It would appear that game company Ubisoft listened to the great upcry regarding including PLAYABLE female characters in their popular titles. Do you guys remember that? It was mid-last year, when a poorly chosen representative at E3 made the mistake of saying female characters were too difficult to design, and their inclusion would “double the workload for the designers”, which of course became a thing.
By thing, I mean a HUGE deal because this sounded simply like a cop out. In a world of Halo, Call Of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto, playable LEAD female characters in games are few and far between. We can always count on our gal Laura Croft, but the most recent titles have been extremely disappointing and for the most part, too easy.
Let’s back it up to 2003 when the second Devil May Cry title came out. Why this year in particular? Because this signaled a change in game design. DMC2 had a playable female lead, when at the time all we had were Tomb Raider, and Samus from Metroid. (This was before Heavenly Sword, etc.) Many female gamers don’t want the cut and paste gaming experience of a “fluffy” title centering around a woman, so DMC2 was exactly what we were looking for. Which in some weird round about way brings me back to Ubisoft and their new release, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.
Just for background on me, by far, my favorite two titles in the hugely popular Assassin’s Creed franchise have been 2, the title that centers around Medici run Florence, and the piratical adventure that is Black Flag. My entire household LOVES Black Flag, from the amazing water textures to the ship battles, it really is a crowd pleaser.
In Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, you FINALLY get to play as a female. The main characters this time are a pair of Victorian twins, Jacob and Evie Frye. They are on the hunt to destroy the last remaining Templars hiding out in London, and along the way Jacob founds his own street gang called The Rooks. You also meet and interact with notable personalities from the time including Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Alexander Graham Bell, Florence Nightingale, and Mr. Charles Dickens.
I’m from San Francisco, and each holiday season, I perform at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. I play Nancy, from the Dickens story of Oliver Twist. This entire game is like the origin story of one Mr. Bill Sikes, because Jacob and Evie gather street urchins, who steal and work for them. I can’t EVEN.
On to actual gameplay. I completely disagree with this review from the Guardian, specifically their comments on the vehicle travel:
frequent slowdown and texture pop-in are both fairly common on PS4, especially when travelling around in a horse and cart, where a disgusting motion blur literally attempts to disguise the fact the world is struggling to keep up with itself.
My system is the XboxOne, so perhaps it’s simply a console thing? I haven’t had a single issue with blur, even when using the speed boost, nor with the textures loading slowly. I don’t know if this was something they worked out? But I REALLY oh so much love driving a horse and buggy through the streets AND OMG I CAN DESTROY EVERY LAMP POST I COME INTO CONTACT WITH, THIS IS AWESOME.
Evie is probably one of the best characters in the Assassin’s Creed lexicon to date, I mean other than our dear pirate Edward Kenway (because Matt Ryan of Constantine was frakking perfect). Her fighting style is unique, and flows extremely well. Watching her take down a group of cockney rapscallions is thrilling, and I LOVE that some of the villainous opposing gang members are also women.
Pretty sure Ubisoft has some of the most talented artists in the business right now, their cityscapes in this newest title are unparalleled in their scope. I mean look at that depiction of the London Fog on the Thames! Also, how disgustingly perfect is that color and thickness of the water? You feel like you want to take a shower as soon as you get out of it.
So far, I’ve only logged a handful of hours, but I’ll be jumping back into it here in a little while on this lovely weekend. In closing, thus far I give Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate a solid 3 1/2 of 5 stars, with the possibility of gaining more as I progress further in the narrative. If you are a fan of London, Victoriana, and Assassins, pick yourself up a copy now!