xander77 (xander77) wrote,

My impressions - Ass Creed Syndicate

I'm insane and breaking my own rules about only playing one AC per year, but after finishing Unity I rushed straight into Syndicate. I dunno - I wanted more proper AC gameplay, but in a context I care about.

First of all, some vids.

An ever-dying bad guy from Syndicate:

And an ever lip-syncing bad guy from Unity:

Impressions time:

Modern day stuff
Not a lot of time spent on that bullshit, which is great. Up to sequence 4 now, and we only had one interruption, which teased Shaun getting fucking murdered but sadly failed to deliver. That would have been a 10/10 on the spot, no questions asked.

A scene in which the assassins fail to murder a random Templar, then the Templars, springing an ambush, completely fail to murder or secure a couple of assassins, who easily get away. Nothing that happened made any difference, but your time sure was wasted with the hope that Shaun would get his head blown off. Quite the summary of the modern day plot.

(Edit - we later get another interruption just to reiterate the information in the paragraph above, with no new information added)

Once again, “finding A piece of Eden" is filler as hell. Yeah, I realize that we've seen like a dozen different pieces or apples across the games, but if chasing one down is the ostensible ultimate goal, then you kinda have to ignore that or at least claim that the power of this piece will seriously shift the balance so that things have any sort of stakes. And like in the very second tutorial mission “oh, and we’ve found ANOTHER goddamned piece of Eden", so who even cares.

When Desmond was actually learning assassin skills alongside the historical protagonist, going through their training made sense. If we’re just here to find a specific object, why not just jump around their memories?

Come to think of it “Jacob and Evie Frye are twins, that’s cool!” is deeply stupid as context-free dialog in-universe and entirely pointless as exposition, because we establish that in the historical narrative. Once again, it's a good example of how pointless and just tossed-together the modern day everything is.

Good changes:

Subtitles are on by default. Excellent. All games should do this.

Whistling is back, yay. Stealth seems to be better. Cover isn't nearly as sticky.

Parkour seems a bit more responsive. For the first time in AC history the game actually figured out that if I’m on a railing around the balcony, I’m generally trying to step off the railing and onto the balcony, not hop over to the other railing.

Dedicated window entering button, another specific fix to a Unity complaint.

You can mark items you see in the game world on your map with one button press, so that you remember where they are. Fantastic.

Someone finally figured out that if you're ever pointing your mouse at a map icon, it's to mark it as a destination, and that there's no need for an additional confirmation.

There's a large, but not overwhelming, number of varied activities, which are mostly a bit challenging and memorable.

Neat bit – saw a target (David Brewster) through a barred window, in a room with a bunch of guards. Thrown knife to the face (or rather, a miss and several body shots) and he’s down. Exactly what I wanted to do during the King of Beggars mission in Unity. Edit – I was actually supposed to air-assassinate him. But the game didn’t display this when I saw and killed him.

Fights are quick and fluid, including AI fights (first in the series - I love AI fights, but in AC it was always a stupidly long drawn-out affair). Being able to auto-loot assassinated enemies is great. I still want the “loot all” button back though.

The “stairs up” cheat that allows enemies to teleport to roofs is a decent compromise if you can’t have enemies climbing for some reason.

I care a great deal more about London than Paris. I don't know if it looks better - at that level of graphical fidelity, the details are indistinguishable to me, but it certainly holds my interest a lot better. Are the poor areas in London using a slowed down version of “Down among the dead men” as their theme? That’s pretty great.

The bad stuff

Liberating an enemy gang territory. The sub-objective is to free and defend your gang members. The moment their captors are dead, they rush to fight the rest of the gang and get killed. This happens every time.

The Rooks are objects rather than actors in story, but it’s still shame they have absolutely no lines or personality. I mean, they’re the last gang fighting against Templar control – they have no reasons for doing so or leading characters? (I basically think the Brotherhood characters, with each activity being represented by a Brotherhood members, make the most sense in these stories in general. I know we have a bunch of Assassin allies in this one, but the gang you run should have had some).

You bat-hook is a lot of fun, but it just refuses to function sometimes, and I have no idea why. Just walking around, waiting until it decides to re-activate.

Other impressions

The henchies in this game really don't want to die sometimes:

Is it just me, or do the Fryes flirt with every single assassin contact?

Why do we keep seeing our main targets and just hiding / running until they go away. "We're not at that part of the game where you get to shank them yet" isn't a very good explanation in-universe.

A fight with a borough leader just locks you into melee. All knife / revolver shots are blocked, and you can’t aim manually or climb. What. The. Shit. The very first leader fight (on top of the train) could just be shot repeatedly. Why? What’s the point of playing an assassin if you can’t be smart about assassinating people?

A number of missions start you on the train, on the other side of the map from the destination, with no fast travel points available. Closing the game and restarting brings you where you need to be, but still.

You can actually knock out like everyone. Be a mostly non-lethal assassin. Neat. Not going to do that, but still. Neat.

Eagle vision now permanently marking enemies is great, but I don’t know why you can’t just run with it.

Gang members and pedestrians randomly mistake one Frye twin for the other.

I swear the game constantly keeps telling me I have new outfits. I don’t, and I’ve read the info for each. They just keep resetting.

Why the hell is there a progress and database entry for every anti-templar activity (child liberation, gang strongholds), but you can’t actually replay them?

Finished Syndicate + Jack the Ripper DLC. Syndicate was dumb but semi-decent, JtR was fairly bad.

General nitpicking

Replaying the Sir Brewster assassination. Evie has the “become invisible while sneaking still” upgrade, which activates as he blathers on in the white room. She stays invisible throughout the subsequent escape.

We never did explain why the twins insist on keeping serial killer mementos in the form of bloody handkerchiefs from each victim. Ditto the pit-fights / races guy - he first shows up in a Templar base, and he reminds us that this was the case towards the end of the game, but we never get an explanation as to what the fuck he was doing there. Guess I would have to read a novel or some shit to find out.

Is George (the assassin leader who features in exactly one early game cutscene) seriously such a useless and pointless character that no one bothered to proofread his encyclopedia entry? Or was I having a stroke as I read it? Are "memories" now slang for assassin assignments?

Otto Berg’s entire biography is an excuse for what a mess he was in Rogue, "technically unable to correctly pronounce his own name". Presumably. I didn’t actually have anything to do with Rogue’s present day sections.

Juno is just so fucking boring. Who thought that having constant interruptions from her during the WWI sections, interruptions that can’t be bothered to progress the plot or even tell us anything we didn’t know, are a good idea?

Your gang members outright mess up the mission structure. No communication between different Ubisoft parts, I guess? They can be sent to kill everyone in an area where you're not supposed to kill anyone yourself. Or they can cause you to be detected and fail the mission by their very presence. The Marx anarchist mission - if you get on the roof of the carriage, a gang member will take over the driver’s seat. If you try to drive the carriage, the anarchist will get thrown out and automatically die. Oh, and at the end of the mission, when the carriage is supposed to get hijacked while you’re busy, my gang members just killed the hijackers. I still had to go "retrieve" the explosives tho.

I haven’t been doing multi-kills (because it’s a stupidly long quicktime event that’s really hard to trigger outside fight clubs) but it’s amazing just how anxious the twins are to stop you from doing that. You’re comboing a guy, and they will teleport to the other side of the ring in mid-combo to execute a staggered dude.

Is it really too hard to lock side missions involving specific NPCs behind the main missions where we are introduced to them? “Your highness, Evie Frye - Yeah, we’ve killed like 500 Templars together”.

Starrick goes “didn’t I tell you, boy...” – no. You’ve never actually talked to Jacob. Much less give him a speech about exploitation you seem to be referencing now.

Actual problems

I swear it’s true – I was literally thinking how one dumb thing Ass Creed DOESN’T do, is the old “you pick up a bunch of ancient relics, run all over the city to open the thing they lock, and the bad guys show up just as you open it, with no in-universe explanation” – right when the game goes and does just that. And now we’re chasing the Shroud of Eden, rather than the two already introduced Pieces of Eden.

“How will the audience be able to tell that the Joke… our craaaaaaaaazy scarred bad guy is truly sinister and reprehensible? Oh I know! We’ll have him forcefully kiss our hero! Even though they’re both dudes! Man, that is so gross and disturbing! He’s truly an agent of… an actor of chaos! See, it works on multiple levels!”

I like how Starrick has his stupid belief system and ostensibly stands for more than just being evil. On the other hand, every single dead bad guy has a big speech justifying their eeeeeeeevil plans, and our heroes are left sputtering along with “well, that’s just like your opinion, man”. Except for Cardigan. Someone on the writing team had a huge hate boner for that guy. But the biggest objection they actually manage to bring up is “he’s a boastful blowhard”? JFC that’s terrible.

Look, you can have a bit about how “revolutions have a price, indiscriminate violence is not necessarily the answer” (“discriminate violence is the answer”) but you’re literally talking about how getting rid of horribly corrupt and murderous people heading an enterprise (and replacing them with totally nice and law-abiding people, but not changing or abolishing any of institutions involved) is fraught with peril. That’s basically the most liberal take on reform possible, and we’re pointing out how dangerous that is?

Ok, someone got shot in the modern day plot – time to use the shroud? No, not that either? And we’re adding another dumb plot point that will go nowhere? Thanks.

Checking the database entries for present day in Jack The Ripper – the woman who got tazed is fucking dead, while the guy who got smashed into the floor and was the subject of a “nope, he’s not moving” closeup lives?

Jack The Ripper DLC – The original game apparently didn’t have nearly enough trailing missions. Trailing missions where the target’s path-finding AI breaks down completely CONSTANTLY.

More involved investigation scenes prove that putting more effort into something does not make it better. More slow forced interactions leading you by the nose as you are forced to dig through the clues in a linear order are not an improvement. For some reason, the investigations DLC isn't actually a part of the season pass, so that's time and money well saved.

Ok, so we have assassin vs assassin. Jack is dissatisfied with the Creed and is implementing his own reign of terror. The root of the disagreement, the ideological foundation that underpins your whole high-concept spinoff is that… Jack is CRAAAAAAAAAAZY. And just to emphasize that, our climax takes place in a mental asylum, where every inmate is a murderous lunatic attacking everyone he sees (well, except for other bad guys, naturally).

Seems fairly obvious Jacob was meant to be the Ripper. “Oh yeah, it was actually Jack all along, just like Evie supposed from the start” is so stupid.
Tags: ass creed, assassins creed, my impressions, syndicate, video games ubisoft

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