Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – impressions


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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.

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PS4 @ E3 2015


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Well having watched what Microsoft were bringing to the table yesterday, I have recently finished watching rival Sony’s briefing at the hyped and famed convention in Los Angeles.  Riding high on strong sales figures that have been way ahead of Xbox One, Sony were seeming to be getting a little too smug … with last year’s e3 offering very little beyond Destiny hype and Bloodborne.  So with another twelve months since then, what have Sony delivered?

FFVIIThe vibe it seems this year was a lot of old, and a handful of new.  Answering hard-core gamer’s wish lists for dream games was firmly on the agenda as two much desired franchises got a mention and new games being announced that we never thought we’d see.  Yes namely Final Fantasy VII getting the remake treatment and finally there will be a Shenmue III.  Both niche projects it may seem, but exciting none the less.  Also surprisingly we got to finally see the much delayed, rumoured cancelled but highly anticipated The Last Guardian in action … and underwhelming graphics aside, looks as engrossing and as powerful as Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus that proceeded it.  The only thing missing from such wish-fulfilment was Half-Life 3.  Oh well, we can’t have everything it seems.

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Thankfully then Sony did have a few new titles up their sleeve, most notably Killzone Creator Guerrilla’s very promising looking Horizon: Zero Dawn – which seems like a post-apocalyptic transformers, with tribes people up against mechanised dinosaurs in a somewhat Monster Hunter vein.    Yet Media Molecule’s game making painting-thing Dreams looked pretty, technically interesting but well, didn’t Project Spark do all this a while back?  Then we come to Street Fighter V … which looked, dare I say it a step-back from the visual cartoon beauty of SF IV…  I was expecting to be blown away by a franchise that has been close to my heart for decades, and it looked old and out-dated.

Adobe Photoshop PDFThankfully then it was down to some old faces from last year and a few multi-platform titles to liven up the show with a newly announced Hitman – always a yay from me, a very Advanced Warfare looking Black Ops III and erm, no in game footage and just a cut scene for Assassin Creed Syndicate?  Bizarre.  Although Star Wars: Battlefront looked amazing.  So naturally Sony closed the show with what was easily their best chance for a win – Uncharted 4: A Thieves End – and despite what I’d seen over at the Xbox briefing – this was the killer game of the show for me.

Sony also had Project Morpheus which they demo’d to interesting results and an extended look at No Man’s Sky, the ambitious space travelling simulation that wowed everyone a couple of year’s back.  Still no release date on that one though.

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Sony did a good job but felt like beyond Uncharted and Horizon, were trapped on the promises offered up in the past and not kept.  Pinning their hype on a former PS3 game that was rumoured dead (The Last Guardian) and giving us games only the hard-core care about anymore (FFVII and Shenmue) seemed a gamble.

It didn’t excite me as much as what the Xbox briefing did … no real welcome surprises and a lack of new IPs.  We’ll see.  Either way PS4 has little to worry about, but for me Microsoft just pipped them this year.

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.

A xmas message


Well its upon us, that time of year again, and every year I am not in the mood, being a big grump, letting the things that have happened to me during the year cloud my thoughts and make me a miserable bah humbug.  Then like every year, there comes a time where it just hits me.  I was out doing some shopping this morning and just gathering some stuff, a birthday card here, a bag of cocktail sausages there, some drinks etc. etc..  Walking around the supermarket with Christmas music blaring in my ears and a couple of ol’ favourites come on – Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses and Fairy Tale of New York by The Pogues.  Yeah I’m feeling Christmassy.

That stuff I reported on a little while back about being depressed, was referencing losing / severing ties with someone I was very fond of (… I do wonder if she ever reads this). Well … thoughts of that still linger, but I know it’s the past – she is the past, and I really have to finally accept that, even if it was simply a friendship that I had wanted a lot more from.  I need to mend, move-the-fuck-on and well, get on with my life.

This blog is a portion of my life, it’s my comfort blanket and somewhere I can sometimes just bleed out my thoughts, even if more often than not I choose not to.  In recent months I think it’s a good idea though and get comfort and support from likes or the occasional comment – and that’s no matter the subject.  I’ll keep it mainly movies and games based, but don’t be surprised if I have a self-reflective moan occasionally along the way.

For the blog I am trying to squeeze in those last few movies before the end of the year.  I keep getting recommended Angelina Jolie’s Malificent and well, I will surely see Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend.  Not sure about much else, what with Christmas day on the horizon and family visiting etc., as well as work in between (sob).  I also might do an impressions on Assassin’s Creed Unity, probably one of the most interesting and immediately next-gen games I have played so far.

So wishing all my readers, occasional visitors, regular commenters and anyone else a wonderful festive time. I’ll report back on how my Christmas day turns out, what prezzies I’ve had and what I’m up to on the day itself, and you can look out for a Top Ten of my movie viewing year on New Years Eve as always.

I’ll leave you with this brilliant tune: