FANDOM


This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Assassin's Creed Syndicate.

Transcript Edit

Well, here we are again. That might as well have been the subtitle, actually: Assassin's Creed: Well, Here We Are Again. I'm not sure I can pinpoint the moment that my feelings towards Assassin's Creed crossed over from cautious enthusiasm to a resigned sense of Monday-morning dread, 'cause if you told me before, say, Assassin's Creed 3 that they would do Victorian London, I'd have said, "All the fucks, yes! I'm gonna rub my face all over Queen Victoria's bustle! Nyam nyam nyam, gor bless ya, Ma'm." 

Not that 3 was necessarily the shark upsurge moment, 'cause I think we're all in agreement that 4 was good, at least as long as I wave this broken bottle around, but then again, we only liked 4 when it was being Steady Eddy's pirate adventure fun times, and we didn't like it so much when it was being Assassin's Creed, and obviously Syndicate doesn't have room for a pirate ship, what with all the space taken up by the absurdly large sideburns. 

I once described the Assassin's Creed series as a line graph and here's how it continues: from the point that Unity was at, draw a perfectly horizontal line. We've jumped 60 years and about 250 miles, but we haven't budged a fucking inch. I wouldn't say Syndicate is the worst Sassy Credo, but it might well be the laziest. Lazily written, certainly. We play as twins, Jacob and Evie Frye, one of them is brash and reckless and direct-combat-oriented; the other is smart and measured and more suited to stealth. I'll leave you to guess which one's the boy and which one's the girl, but here's a hint: try to think like the laziest writer in the fucking universe. 

And the sideburns were taking up even more space than I first thought it seems, because there also wasn't room for much in the way of plot or motivation. The game literally starts with the protagonists going, "I'm bored, let's go to London and liberate it from the Templars." "Ooh yes, that sounds like a smashing time!" "And you know what? I've always wanted to start a street gang and call it 'The Rooks'". The way it's presented, it's like one of those terrible wink-to-audience moments from bad historical films. "What did he say his name was? Da Vinci? Well, he won't amount to anything, and may the atomic bomb fall on the Japanese if I'm wrong." Speaking of, remember how Leonardo was a major character in Screedo II and the friendship between him and Ezio was actually firmly established? Well, the sideburns muscled that out, too, 'cause every meeting with a historical figure in Syndicate plays like something from a fucking kids TV series: 

"Hello, I'm the famous Charles Dickens."

"Hello the famous Charles Dickens, we're stand-ins for the audience."

"Hello stand-ins, I guess that means I can inexplicably enlist you to solve my problems."

"What problems, the famous Charles Dickens?"

"It's all these random thugs, stopping me from finishing the famous books I write. If only there was someone around here who could brutally stab them all to death for me."

The bridging future plot is the same as it always is as well: we're looking for a new Piece of Eden, an assassin in the past found it once, so you have to go into their memories and see how they did it because we can't be arsed to lift a finger and put the same effort in, like the entitled fucking Millennials we are. 

Mind you, I said we haven't moved anywhere since Unity, but at least Unity tried to play a bit with the idea of Assassins and Templars not being a totally uncomplicated good-versus-evil situation, whereas in Syndicate the best and only argument for opposing the main villain is, "Fucking look at the guy! He's like someone drew a Snidely Whiplash moustache onto a picture of Joseph Goebbels."  

So you know what the gameplay of Screedo is by now, it's like being a vigilante rent boy: you jump around the rooftops pacifying districts by strategically inserting things into people. Let's focus on the new mechanics or rather gimmicks: a gimmick is a new mechanic that lets us achieve something we could already do with the established mechanics, but easier, or harder. In the latter case, rendering itself as vestigial as an armless chimpanzee's bellend. 

Syndicate has examples of both. The new hookshot merely replaces all the traditional climbing gameplay with one button press and when things go corset-up, you can instantly escape pursuers with a smoke bomb and hookshot out, a.k.a "the Batman Bye-Bye." And while it was occasionally annoying to watch Ezio or Altair bounce his little tushy up and down, internally debating whether a 2mm-crack constitutes a handhold, this is taking out gameplay and not replacing it with anything, unless you count trying to figure out which square foot of rooftop you need to stand in to make the game register the opposite building as hookshotable. Now there's an adjective that deserves to enter common parlance: "Hello Patricia, you're looking jolly hookshotable this evening." 

Meanwhile there's the street gang stuff, whose main benefit seems to be that if you run into a hairy fight, you can lure your enemies down the stairs, out their stronghold and through the streets until you can find some friendly NPCs to tag in, or alternatively just stab them yourself, you big, wet nelly. 

Also there's drivable carriages in the sandbox which are the centerpiece of the odd chase mission, in which you run enemies off the road with sideswipes, which would only be physically possible if your horse were capable of spontaneously teleporting six feet to the side. But it's slightly faster than parkour and slightly slower than hookshotting, making it a gimmick introduced and made obsolete within the same sodding game. 

There are more fiddly little differences I could bring up, but my main point is that, broadly speaking, it's just Assassin's Creed: Another One. More by-the-numbers, find-and-replace shit. Same ending as usual, too: Fight over the Piece of Eden with the big villain in the Assassin vault, because despite thousands of years of practice, the Assassins have yet to develop a secret vault that their own people can't get into before the Templars do. Hey, ancient Assassins, you ever heard of safety deposit boxes?

You know that opening screen that used to say, "This game was developed by a multicultural team of various faiths etcetera"? Well, now it says "various beliefs, sexual preferences and gender identities". Now, in Screedo 1 I assumed this was about preemptively dodging racism accusations before they let you slit up all the Muslims. So I wasn't sure what this new one was about until I discovered that roughly half the standard enemies seem to be women now. Go equal rights, but I wonder if this was the equality they had in mind, as I headbutt them and stab them in the tits. Slightly historically iffy of course, but let's not talk about this like it's an artistic choice. This is because of that bullshit with Unity not having a female player character that the internet randomly drew as the thing that they were going to be arbitrarily cross about that week. And this is exactly the kind of bland corporate response one should expect from what Ubisoft is now. There's got to be some remnant of the human being who gave us Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and sought actual creative fulfillment in there somewhere. Is he not sick of his bullshit yet?  

[Darth Vader voice] "I'm afraid it's too late for me," intones Ubisoft, as it solemnly begins to remove its helmet and horror grips my heart as the sideburns begin to emerge. 

Addenda Edit

  • Blimey bollocks give us a chip: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Looking forward to the World War 1 installment where the Templars explain why they senselessly murdered millions of young men as part of a scheme to make the beaches less crowded
  • And remember, Big Ben is the bell, not the tower

Screenshots Edit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins · Sonic Forces · Star Wars Battlefront II

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.