I have been getting lucky with some early access to collectibles in the past few months so I guess it's karma balancing things out..
Oh well.. let's finish this post then.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate..
After last year's not-so-great reviews for AC Unity, there is a lot of pressure on Ubisoft to redeem themselves this year.
I personally thought the reviews were a bit too harsh for AC Unity. Yes, admittedly a lot of the criticisms were indeed warranted. The numerous bugs & glitches, frame-rate drops, connectivity issues at launch are un-deniable.
Fans grew frustrated and Critics had a field day.. Blaming the series' yearly release not giving them enough time to polish up the game, also faulting the decision to release 2 AC games in the same time-frame. The ultimate blow was when Ubisoft was awarded the dubious title of being the "new EA".
The most frustrating issue for me was the entire plot. Not only was there a lack of follow-up on the modern day storyline, the Arno-Elise / Assassin-Templar 'Unity' just wasn't living up to it's promise. There was so much expectations of seeing how an Assassin and a Templar were going to work together against a common enemy but they just flopped on that aspect.
Eventually, the technical issues were fixed and I felt that it was a much-improved game from the series' predecessors in terms of game-play.
The new 'parkour' system felt a lot more fluid. Traversing buildings downwards were smooth! The combat system was a lot more challenging since you couldn't counter-kill your way through a bunch of guards. It did force me to make use of more of my skills and gadgets. I did miss the whistle skill though.
The outfit customization in AC Unity and the more RPG-style of choosing your arsenal was a very refreshing approach.
Finally, Co-op multiplayer was amazing and lots of fun whether you go all out gung-ho or coordinated your attacks with stealth. Though the missions got repetitive and boring after a while, it was truly enjoyable while it lasted.
Co-op multiplayer was a feature the series was clearly moving towards, when you saw the Wolfpack Multiplayer modes in previous games.
So, I was very, very disappointed when Ubisoft announced that there will be no multiplayer of any form in AC Syndicate. (Yes, I remember I'm doing a AC Syndicate post and not a AC Unity review.. I'm getting there...)
With 2 playable characters this time, AC Syndicate was set up brilliantly for a co-op game!
So.. no multiplayer, no accompanying 'Templar game', no Companion App. (Yes I was curious to see if Ubisoft were going to do a 2nd game each year, focusing on the Templars like AC Rogue. Also, for the record, I do feel Companion Apps can be fun if done right.. Like the name suggests, it should be a accompanying feature rather than a forced one.. AC IV's one was good.. AC Unity's not so much.)
It seemed like Ubisoft was not taking on the challenge and proving the doubters wrong. They could have still added Multiplayer and probably even a Companion App and say.. Look, we accept AC Unity wasn't as good as we hoped but we believe we can do it right this time round..
To me, focusing on just single-player seems to be going back to the beginning..
But...... It seems to have worked!
A lot of people who previewed the game seem to have enjoyed it. I too had the opportunity to try it out at the Ubisoft Singapore Charity Jam event, you can check out my comments in the link. It wasn't only early impressions. Lots of reviews have been popping up in the last few days and you can see that the general consensus is that AC Syndicate is a very, good game.
Ubisoft has already promised that the modern-day storyline will be satisfying for the fans, compared to the lacklustre plot in AC Unity.
The AC Series isn't going to change drastically from game-to-game;
Combat will introduce new weapons and accessories but is going to be more-or-less the same.
New historical settings are replicated in great detail but free-running through towns will feel all too-familiar.
The story is still going to be about Assassins fighting back against the rule of the Templars.
Ultimately, it is the modern-day plot that ties all the games together and direct the individual games to a much, bigger plot.
What is Juno up to? What are the Pieces of Eden being collected for? These are questions that fans of the series want to know. Let's bring those back and AC Syndicate will be remembered for all the right reasons..
I'm disappointed with the back-to-basics approach Ubisoft has taken, but the sacrifice seems to have worked in their favour bringing back the confidence in the series and more importantly in the company.
The 2 equally playable characters in AC Syndicate seem to be lots of fun, marrying the 'all-in' attack style as well as the stealth approach with the different characters. Having kept away from most articles and videos, I'm excited to see what London has to offer in Assassin's Creed Syndicate.