Most people think about fall colors or great holidays when looking ahead to October and November, but anyone who’s been a gamer in the last seven years may share my outlook: Another year, another “Assassin’s Creed” game.
This year’s installment was revealed by a series of trailers released earlier this week. We got a long look at some gameplay footage, a theatrical trailer and a short biography on one of the game’s protagonists: Jacob Frye.
“Assassin’s Creed Syndicate” will take place in Industrial Revolution-era London. Players assume the role of Jacob and his twin sister Evie on a quest to unite the gangs inhabiting the seven London-area burroughs found in the title to battle the evil templars, who have apparently taken over the city.
Because it’s an “Assassin’s Creed” game, there will no doubt be a futuristic element, as well as some sort of magic stick or something that Evie and Jacob will find in a convoluted quest arch.
“Syndicate” is actually the second “Assassin’s Creed” game to release this year. “Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China” released earlier this year to little fanfare. I didn’t know it existed until I started writing this column, but hopefully you won’t hold it against me. It is after all the 14th game released in the series since 2007.
The 15th overall and ninth “major” release in the series, “Syndicate,” does show some major progress. I like a lot of what I saw in the handful of looks inside we received, but I know better than to review a fall major release in May.
Here are some of the major things I took away from the trailers.
Ubisoft learned its lesson about female characters
The gigantic French game publisher, which also oversees the two Canadian development studios that work on the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise, took a major step forward in 2015 by releasing two games that feature female main characters.
The characters come after the company took a beating in the press for its decision to not allow gamers to play as a woman in the multiplayer mode of 2014’s “Assassin’s Creed Unity.”
The developers were probably being honest when they said this was a simple cost-cutting measure — a female assassin means double the voice acting and animation. But they had to know that women like assassinations too and probably would be upset that they had to do so as a man for the millionth time.
However, Ubisoft didn’t quite get it right this year. They released a bio and gameplay footage featuring Jacob, not Evie, which has some more aggressive critics worried about just how much she is featured in the title.
And good riddance to a silly addition. The franchise doesn’t need a multiplayer. It is one of the few remaining single-player experiences we have to look forward to each year.
I didn’t even touch the multiplayer found in “Unity.” Maybe I missed out, but it’s a single-player experience for me. I actually suck at the “Assassin’s Creed” games. I barely make due in the campaign. I don’t need a bunch of 12-year-olds stabbing me repeatedly to enjoy it.
Plenty of “please sir, can I have some more?” moments
I thought about writing this whole column in the stereotypical cockney style, but I worried that my poor editor would have a stroke when she opened it up.
Make no mistake: you will get a ton of Dickens-era street urchin dialogue rattling through your brains.
If you played “The Order: 1886,” which also deals with supernatural forces ruling London only two years before “Syndicate,” expect more of the same. If you didn’t, stop reading this immediately and play “The Order.”
Don’t blame Ubisoft for releasing a very similar game in the same year, though. They stuck to their development deadlines, as they do every year, while “The Order” was beaten nearly to death with the delay stick.
“Grand Theft Auto” carriage moments
The trailer indicates that you can “borrow” any of London’s many horse-drawn carriages by simply punching the driver and throwing him to the side.
It also shows some extremely unrealistic carriage chases and demolition derbies, but I think they will be a fun way of shaking up the constant running found in most of the franchise’s games.
Jacob may actually be Batman
One of the other ways “Syndicate” shakes up gameplay is by equipping its heroes with Batman-like Gatling guns, which players can use to scale large buildings.