Monday, November 30, 2015

Not different enough

I tried, really, really tried, to finish Assassin's Creed Syndicate over the long holiday weekend. I would have, too, if I had not been distracted one evening by Roger Waters The Wall. It is a mostly good concert video with some attempted heart wrenching vignettes that proves that The Wall is still awesome and that Roger Waters' voice is not at all what it used to be. There was not rental option so I bought it and watched it sober. Not by choice, mind you, I just had nothing to drink.


Having two main characters in Syndicate has been entirely wasted. For starters the two characters, Jacob and Evie, do not play differently enough for one another. Supposedly Jacob is more combat centered and Evie is more stealthy, which befits their personalities and there are a few token skills that are specific to each of them, but in practice they play exactly the same. All it meant for me was that I had to grind for more money after gaining a level because I had twice as much equipment to purchase.

Second, Jacob is clearly the main character. He is skilled, brash and lacks forethought, just like Ezio in his first game. Evie is much more thoughtful, spending her few missions cleaning up after Jacob and searching for a piece of Eden. She actually behaves like an assassin while Jacob is a thug with a hidden blade. This difference should have been played up much more than it was. For most of the game Evie shrugs her shoulders at Jacob's antics, antics that include murdering a member of Parliament, destabilizing the economy and a temporary alliance with the most interesting character in the game, Roth, the mob boss. Only in the final chapter does she call him out on his bullshit.

I have yet to see how it turns out but I do hope for a messy conclusion.

Plot missteps are forgivable when everything else is enjoyable. Syndicate delivers to that end quite well, not quite eclipsing Black Flag but making me forget about the banality of Unity. Every once in a while a 'traditional' screw you fail mission pops up but for the most part if the player makes a mess of things he or she is left to deal with the outcome. I have more fun fleeing from a botched assassination than playing the same mission over and over, trying to not be seen.

Of course the final chapter (?) strips both heroes of their weapons and armor, then forces Evie to sneak around in a fucking ball gown. I failed once last night and went to bed. It had been a good evening and I did not want it soured by one of those missions.

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