After about a year, I revisited Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate last night. I’m a fan of the Creed games – and of Ubisoft’s potato-print open world formula in general – but Syndicate was, and still is, one of my favourites.
It’s probably the strongest of the Creed franchise; there’s something about Victorian London that’s so utterly captivating. Sure, I loved exploring Rome, Paris and the Caribbean too, but they didn’t quite strike a chord with me like London did. Perhaps it’s the joy of seeing familiar structures you’ve seen in person in a video game (although Black Flag brought me similar glee on visiting Tulum in Mexico), or perhaps it’s just that it’s all so well-crafted with so much personality injected into every pub and every alleyway.
I sank about thirty or so hours into it shortly after its release, and even though I’ve had the Jack the Ripper DLC sat waiting pretty much since it came out, I haven’t yet found the time to revisit Evie and Jacob in Whitechapel. With the Christmas lull, I finally found time last yesterday – and it was a joy to return.
There’s something about Creed games that is unrepeatable. A couple of weeks ago I was deep into Watch Dogs 2 with Marcus, pushing my questionable patience for stealth to the limits and becoming a master hacker. Assassin’s Creed asks you to be stealthy too, but hell, I’m a master assassin – I’ve got no time to be sneaking about. With the help of the new ‘fear’ tools given to the Frye twins as part of the DLC, I had no problem barging into enemy strongholds and murdering them in brutal, torturous ways. At times it felt too easy, but as a skilfully trained assassin, it should have been easy. I loved every moment of it.
It reminded me what a shame it was that we’ve had no new Creed this year – the first year in several. We’re fairly sure that we’ll get on in 2017, but Ubisoft haven’t expressly said so. Some rumoured leaks point towards it being set in Egypt, but we’ll have to wait and see. My fear, after revisiting Syndicate and rediscovering just how brilliant it is, is that they’ll change the formula to something unrecognisable. Ubisoft have come under heavy fire with their repetitive formula, especially since 2014’s Assassin’s Creed Unity was released in something of a buggy mess. Of course it’s a personal preference, but it’s precisely that repetitive formula which keeps me coming back. No matter the setting or the story, you know what you’re getting, and for me, that’s a quality open world experience that few developers have ever got close to replicating (with a few exceptions, of course).
It’s a fact of life that you can never please everyone at once, and I hope that Ubisoft don’t change their tried and tested formula too much to try and satiate the outcries of those who have been disappointed by the franchise. Disappointment is always more vocal than satisfaction; and for every person who has tired of Creed, there’s probably half a dozen who still love it exactly how it is.
Please, Ubisoft. Stick to what you know! I’ll be waiting with bated breath to find out what they have up their sleeve for the next instalment of the series, and I can only hope that it’s still reminiscent of everything that currently makes the franchise great.