Last Friday Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate was released and being a hardcore fan of the franchise of course I picked it up. I’ve played a good 6 hours of the game and my initial impression is very good. After the botched launch of Unity, it felt good to just be able to turn on the game and get down to it without bugs or logon issues. What was really interesting to me was the reviews for the game seem to be all over the place. Typically with most releases the ratings tend to be fairly close but Syndicate is running the gamut. I don’t really understand why either.
IGN – 8.2/10
Gamespot – 9/10
Forbes – 7.5/10
The Telegraph – 2/5
I’m going to preface this whole piece by saying I usually take reviews with a grain of salt. Reviews are always prone to subjectivity and you can’t always base your buying habits on reviews. However, it is very interesting to me that this game caused so much confusion and wildly different ratings considering most of the reviews I’ve read pretty much say the same thing.
Syndicate is an AC game, the solid gameplay is still there and the combat feels much more visceral than in other games. Punching someone in the face and then throwing a kukri in their face just feels so intense. The combat also feels more fluid than in other games in the series. I had played through the last hour or so of Unity before going into Syndicate and it definitely is true, combat is in fact smoother. Combos are interesting and being able to use finishers is also a welcome change. As well as the AI being a little bit more unpredictable. Some reviews say that the gameplay is the same and list it as a con which baffles me. Why would you change something that fundamentally works? I also am not sure how else you could possibly do it. I also really like that the lock-picking mini-game is gone, it felt like a chore in Unity.
The story so far seems to be good. In my opinion, changing the story to have you as the player actually be the character seemed lazy to me. Ever since Desmond died, the story has suffered in my opinion. It does seem to have less interruptions in terms of jumping back to the real world, which always seemed to be annoying after Desmond died, the content of the jump backs were never substantial. It’s back to where players want to be, in the open world of London.
Another gripe was that the game looks “dull”. I don’t understand that myself since London during that time period would have looked like that, smoke stacks everywhere and a general drab look. To list that as a con and potentially take points away for essentially being historically accurate is mind boggling to me.
Another plus that most reviews didn’t touch on were the now manageable side missions, quests, and collectables. By the end of the game, my Unity Map was essentially a wall of stuff, actually seeing the map became a chore of filtering out things. So far in Syndicate they seem to have gotten control of it. In Unity eventually I stopped trying to do everything and collect everything because I just felt so overwhelmed. The same is true about Black Flag. The other good thing is now the Side Missions actually help you work toward the overall conquering of the map and are not just there as filler content.
There are still some inconsistency with the wall climbing, jumping, and combat. Most of the issues are when you combine those. There has been quite a few times when my character vaults across a length no man would ever be able to when doing an air assassinate. There are some walls and ledges that you could clearly jump on or jump to but the game is hesitant to let you actually do it. I spent several times just rolling the control stick in circles mashing the jump button trying to get the character to continue jumping. This is probably the biggest issue for me, you would think at this point they could polish that up.
Having not completed the game yet, I can’t speak to the overall story or plot but from what I’ve read the ending ruins it. I can’t imagine what could possibly be so bad that it ruins the entire game’s story but I guess I’ll figure it out.
In conclusion, I don’t agree with the majority of what various reviewers are saying about the game and cannot really understand the wildly different ratings. The only thing I can say about it is the subjectivity of the reviews in general, depending on who you are, you’re going to have a different take on the game. Which is why I think more review sites should take multiple reviewers and truly come up with a fair review. Doesn’t that just make more sense?