Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – impressions


acsyndicate

It’s taken me a few entries in this popular franchise to really appreciate what it does.  The only Assassin’s Creed game I ever completed was the last, somewhat controversial entry ‘Unity’ set in Paris which I’ll admit was the soul reason I gave it a go.  I loved it however and unlike other entries, it held my interest.

acsyndicateevieThis latest game is set in the very appealing setting of Victorian London and was initially to be called AC: Victory (although not a great title I’ll say).  You play as twin brother and sister assassins Jacob & Evie Fry who are out to track down the Templars and in Evie’s case find the legendary pieces of Eden.  Now it has to be said I never play these games for the story as they are convoluted and lacking in focus at the best of times (I still don’t really know what was going on in Unity).  But what I do play it for is the detailed, highly atmospheric setting and the industry defining climbing and exploring and the excellent stealth mechanics.  This game is no different and seems to have further developed both the parkour / free running and the stealth to make the game a real joy to play.  The addition of a grappling hook is also very welcome and makes ascending tall structures a breeze.  Graphically it is also a stunner – very detailed, tons going on on the cobbled streets, a welcome addition of a day-to-night cycle sorely missing from the previous games and decent weather / rain / particle and lighting effects throughout.  It also helps that London has been realised fantastically with several large districts full of things to do and find.  I was puzzled at the absence of Tower Bridge or The Tower of London, but I am only a little way into the game so maybe these areas open up later?

Screenshots taken directly from my PS4

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The fact its very easy to get spotted by the wealth of gang members around the city gets annoying quickly and their cut & paste repeated appearances seems rather lazy.  I think I’ve killed the exact same thugs now dozens of times and they tend to yell and complain with the same lines of dialogue also.  The game isn’t without it’s bugs either as it has frozen on me during loading and had the odd cut-scene with missing / invisible characters in it (!).  However with the usual implementation of key historical figures such as Charles Dickens and in forthcoming DLC, Jack the Ripper – this is a setting that is instantly attractive and intriguing.  I love exploring the city and with two characters to play with, upgrading their abilities and swapping between the two for a slightly different feel to the game is a great idea.  I hope to see this through to the end, and with very little on my gaming horizon until next year I’m sure I will.

Recommended.

An update and stuff


So what have I been up to lately?  Well I managed to complete Assassin’s Creed Unity on the PS4, the first AC game I have ever kept interested in until the end.  Why?  I think setting was key.  Of the previous games in the series I have played, most have been set either in medieval (AC 1 & 2) or around the time of the crusades (AC 3) and well, the pirating of AC4 never appealed so I didn’t play that one.  However this one was set in Paris, during the revolution, the time of Napoleon etc. and it was a brilliantly atmospheric setting I personally have plenty of interest in. 

Secondly I have been playing Grand Theft Auto V.  Now eagle-eyed readers of this blog may recall me posting about it a while back when I got it on the Xbox 360.  Well, for one reason or another I didn’t play it all that much of it, and since jumping to the next-generation with the PS4 and Xbox One, I thought it was high time I took a second look following it’s revamped re-release on these consoles.  I picked it up on PS4, and must say for what is technically a last-gen title, the detail (with improved textures, lighting, effects as well as an enhanced array of music on the various radio stations) it’s one of the best looking games I have played to date.  GTA V is a fantastic game following the exploits of three characters; Michael the former gangster now in witness protection, Franklin the stereotypical gang-banger hoodlum and Trevor the meth-dealing lunatic.  The missions are cinematic and the world is alive and complex and massive.  There are a ton of things to see and do and it never feels boring.  I’m loving it.  Check out a few screenshots I took with the PS4 to show off how damn gorgeous this next-gen version looks in the flesh:

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On the gaming horizon (next Tuesday to be specific) is The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt.  A heavily hyped and very well reviewed game that I have pre-ordered for my Xbox One.  From everything I have read and seen, it’s sounding like it will be a mammoth RPG adventure to rival the likes of The Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy, with you as a bad-ass monster hunter known as Garalt, who inhabits a huge world that is one of the biggest apparently ever made and full of detail, missions, characters and true next-gen visuals.  I have watched some gameplay and read several reviews, and suffice to say I am VERY excited.  Roll on May 19th … I’ll do an early impressions some time in the week.

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In other news, I’ve sadly not managed to secure a trip to the cinema to see The Avengers: Age Of Ultron yet and can see it being a Blu-ray review later in the year.  The same might go for Mad Max Fury Road, but I’m still optimistic about getting to see that one, so watch this space (and no, going by myself doesn’t appeal all that much).  I have a few movies on the agenda however, the names of which I’ll keep to myself for now and let you be surprised when I post the reviews.  Yeah, I’m all about the tease.

On the TV watching front I have been pretty addicted to Better Call Saul, that breaking Bad spin-off starring everyone’s favourite crooked attorney Saul Goodman (or Jimmy Magill as he’s currently known).  It seems to have all the polish and great writing of Breaking Bad (well, it is by Vince Gilligan after all) and just keeps getting better and better.  I’m also watching The Following season 3 (yeah, yeah I know…we’re not getting a season 4…boo hiss) which has again been brilliant this year.  Clearly there is no accounting for taste, so another show hits the skids.  Talking of TV, I’m also looking forward to season 3 of Orange Is The New Black, a show at first I wasn’t entirely sure was me … the first series was good but a little lightweight, but with an excellent and gripping season 2, I am now officially a fan.  Damn Netflix just keeps on giving, doesn’t it?  I am also watching Brit drama Luther on it at the moment which stars popular actor Idris Elba as a tough Police detective who specialises in catching serial killers – right up my alley.

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So other than the above, and getting over some man-flu and a tickly cough that just won’t quit … it’s been all about work, which is going very well.  I am learning some new stuff to do more with secretarial tasks and finding it challenging and educational.  Love it when my job gives me those opportunities to learn new skills and I think it helps build a real profile and shape me for the future.  I’m also of course still looking forward to finally seeing my favourite band Garbage in November when they appear at Brixton Academy in London.  It’s going to be such a once in a life time experience for me, someone who doesn’t really get such opportunities.  I have my big brother to thank for making this happen and with my 40th birthday very much right after, November is looking to be a real belter.

Well, enough from me for now.  Hope you’re all having fun in whatever you’re all up to and continue to check in on me and this blog regularly for more updates, reviews and gaming impressions.

Craig.

Update


Hi folks.  A quick update to say I haven’t vanished.  Not a great deal of movie watching going on right now but planning on rectifying that soon. Been catching up on the rather brilliant TV series ‘True Detective’ after a friend borrowed me the DVD box set, and also watching Breaking Bad for the second time following getting the Blu-ray set for Christmas.

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Other than that playing and trying to finish various games.  The Evil Within has ramped up it’s difficulty from hard to bastard-hard of late, so struggling a bit with that one, and Assassin’s Creed Unity is well, mammoth so still playing that and making progress bit by bit.  Wonderful, underrated game though in my opinion with such beautifully detailed graphics and atmosphere.

Work has been particularly busy, with a lot still to do and well, catching up from having a week off at the beginning of January is always difficult … and I still have plenty of holiday left to take before April.

Another friend has borrowed me the Simon Pegg / Nick Frost comedy The World Ends, which I’ve heard nothing but mixed views on, so will probably check that out soon.  Also the Alex Garland sci-fi drama Ex_Machina has just come out so would like to go and see that at some stage.

I’m also excited this year as it’s going to be pretty special for my favourite band Garbage and singer Shirley Manson.  They have two brand new tracks planned for Record Store Day in April, as well as a whole new album at some stage … and 2015 also marks the 20th anniversary of their debut album, which they are planning to re-release as well.

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Well, that’s all from me for now.  Reviews and what not coming soon.

Gamescom gameplay stand-outs


I have kept a close eye on this week’s games convention in Germany, Gamescom and some of the gameplay videos that have surfaced really impressed me.  I think there were some exciting reveals, even if the increasing focus on Indie titles leaves me a bit cold (I tend to find these budget games get a bit boring after a few plays…).  But I’m all for the blockbuster franchises and games like Call of Duty Advanced Warfare and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looked very impressive.

My highlights though remain these two:

Quantum Break

Format: XB1

Developer: Remedy

 

Assassins Creed Unity

Format:  XB1 and PS4

Developer:  Ubi Soft

 

Sadly at the moment only AC has a release date (pencilled in for Oct 28) but Remedy seem to be keeping tight lipped about when we’ll get our hands on the very cool looking QB.  Either way, lots to look forward to for gamers.

X1 kicks off E3 2014


Well it’s day one of the E3 event in Los Angeles, an annual gaming event where publishers and game developers showcase all their big games for the next year or so.  My verdict so far?

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I watched the Microsoft event that showed off the upcoming games for the Xbox One and well, some underwhelming announcements… ‘Fable Legends’, ‘Phantom Dust’ (??) but games such as a new ‘Crackdown’ and the new exclusive from Platinum Games ‘Scalebound’, look very promising.  Indie platformers ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’ and ‘Inside’ both look great also.  The trailer for ‘Forza Horizon 2’ looked decent too, with some cool-looking weather effects.

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Multi-platform titles showcased included ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’, ‘The Division’ and ‘Assassins Creed: Unity’ … all of which looked lush, even if UbiSoft’s reputation for showing off gameplay footage running on high end PC hardware passed off as in-game Xbox One or PS4 gameplay is a concern, even if the controversy over the visual downgrade of Watch Dogs was a bit of a storm over nothing.  The game still ended up looking awesome in my opinion.  So we’ll wait and see.  A brief trailer for ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ got me rather salivating though, I must admit.  Love me some Lara Croft.

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The other news coming in is that the new development tools given to developers to utilize the reserved graphics power for the Kinect, will mean better resolutions and visual performance for X1 games, which has to be a good thing.  Oh and another trailer for ‘Sunset Overdrive’ got me, if possible even more excited.

So final thoughts, this was a good day for the Xbox One.  No major showstoppers, but some very interesting announcements.