Tag Archives: Assassins Creed Unity

Will Assassins’ Creed Syndicate Turn the Franchise Around?

By Joe Strange


It’s that time of year again; we’ve got more information on the next Assassins’ Creed game. Ever since 2009’s Assassins’ Creed 2 we’ve had a new mainstay Assassins’ Creed game every year; some have been great, some… not so much.

It’s a fairly large point of contention in gaming; annual instalments of huge game series like Assassins’ Creed and Call of Duty. It was once the complaint that sports games like Fifa and Madden released the same game every year with only minor tweaks, and when that trend came over to narrative heavy games it all got a bit real.

Some franchises have suffered for it, with Assassins’ Creed being a notable example; Assassins’ Creed Brotherhood, despite being a smaller game (one city compared to AC2’s variety of settings), was a great extension to a well established system and character arc; it was more of the same, which, while satiating the fans need, did make them ask for more of the sort of advancement we saw between the first instalment and the second. With Revelations the series took a turn into the boring but at least they tried new things avenue. Assassins’ Creed 3 was a mess; boring main character, a combat system that was clunky and a narrative that was so dull that I think I slept through most of it while playing.

For me, Connor’s ‘adventure’ was the last straw. I was done.

That was until I heard the reception of Black Flag‘s humour, wit, fun and charm; it was like playing AC2 again; a likable but flawed main character, a great setting, new mechanics, polish. The series was on the up again.

Then last year, disaster struck.

Sorry, no, I read that wrong; Unity struck.

Full of bugs, glitches, gremlins and just, plain broken features, Unity was an unfinished piece of work that probably shouldn’t have seen the light of day when it did; it was a real advocate against annual releases.

So what’s the deal with this next one? What makes Syndicate different? What does it bring to the table that will maybe, possibly, turn this tail spinning franchise around?

Well, me from two second ago, I’m glad you asked, here it goes.

 1) It’s a new studio and team

Out of the gate, Syndicate is being developed by Ubisoft Quebec, and not Ubisoft Montreal like the previous entries in the series, while we’re not sure how exactly this will go down it’s good to know that one of the leads from this new challenger worked on one of the good Assassins’ Creed games that was based in a single city (Brotherhood, so you know)

New teams often mean new ideas, and new ideas, hopefully means a more inventive and exciting time for everyone, I mean this one’s got a rope launcher that means you can Batman to the rooftops then zipwire on the fly; that’s pretty neat.

2) It’s bigger than Unity‘s Paris.

30% at an estimate, according to Ubisoft. One of the reasons that Brotherhood worked was that Rome was a large, but fairly varied city, you had country side and the crowds of Vatican City, or at least, as crowded as last gen could get. This time we’ve been told that a lot of time and effort has gone into making this version of London, not only busy, but believable, with crowds of people keeping to the pavements and carriages going hither and dither. The city that you’re trying to control should feel alive and worth controlling, not just some barely occupied shell; it’s bloody London after all.

Baring in mind, we were also told this about Unity, but who knows, maybe this one will be finished. Which leads me to…

3) No Multiplayer

Yesss. One of the (many) issues with Unity was the shaky and unstable mulitplayer mode; Co-op was promised but in reality it was restrictive and bland, and that was if you could find a game to join.

While everyone has had a little bit of fun with Assassins’ Creed’s competitive multiplayer in the past, it’s a system that hasn’t seen a lot of change for the better since its introduction back in Brotherhood, and the lack of a multiplayer mode isn’t a huge loss, since at its core, Assassins’ Creed is a single player experience; it’s a narrative lead game, and having idiots dry humping your character when you’re trying to listen to important plot takes away from that somewhat.

The focus on multiplayer has also, reportedly, meant that the team can focus on the single player, meaning that not only could this be a finished game come October, but it might even be polished!

4) New (hopefully good) main characters

Oh, Assassins’ Creed, if ever ‘hit and miss’ was an apt phrase, it would be for your protagonists; Ezio was such an incredibly welcome change to Altair’s stoicism and sense of duty; he was fun, cocky, but had a burden to bare, and his character progressed really well over his arc, Connor, the little shit, was just so dull. His dad was a much better character to play as; more personality, more spark, it’s a shame he’s a massive dick, but eh, what can you expect, he’s a templar.

Then we met with Black Flag‘s Edward Kenway, and we thought ‘yeah this is more like it’ – much more reminiscent of Ezio’s charm and charisma, but more of a selfish edge (he was a pirate after all). And as for… what his name? Arno? Did he have a personality?

With Syndicate, not only are we getting a quick tempered young Englishman as a playable character, but we’re getting his twin, Evie, who’s really only been described as a stealthy master assassin, with promise of her character being explored at E3.

Having two main characters that weave the plot together through their interactions and relationships will be so refreshing to see, especially as you’ll be able to switch between them during free roam and use their specialised skill sets during particular missions in the campaign.

So there’s four reasons why I think that Syndicate might be the saving grace that the Assassins’ Creed series needs. I probably missed some, like the fact you can hijack carriages or that throwing knives are back (Yesss), but I’m really hoping that this game is good. But maybe that’s because I’m English and a bad game set in England might hurt my pride. Or something.

What do you think of the look of Syndicate? Or the AC series in general? Leave a comment below and maybe, just maybe, Ubisoft will read it and will make the game much better for all of us.

Maybe.

 

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Game Delays are a Good Thing

By Joe Strange


Earlier this week Rocksteady announced that Batman Arkham Knight would be delayed once more, this time by three weeks, giving us a world wide release date of June 23rd. This isn’t the first time the highly anticipated conclusion to the Arkham series has been delayed; originally planned for an October 2014 release, it was delayed by eight months to June 2nd of this year, the reasoning? The team wanted to make sure that the game was absolutely complete, and up to their own standards, stating that they didn’t want to release something they weren’t happy with.
The reasoning behind the most recent delay is the same; Rocksteady want their final foray into the Batman story to be an experience that isn’t hindered by bugs, glitches and the other types of faults that this generation of gaming is rife with.

There was very little uproar this week when the team announced it, after all, three weeks isn’t that long, but I remember being livid when the game was delayed back in June of 2014, I had been waiting for the game since I finished Arkham City and I wanted more. I turned to a petulant, entitled kid who wanted what they thought they deserved.

That was, until Assassins’ Creed Unity hit in October. I don’t need to tell you how much of a sh*t-storm that game caused; with enough bugs and glitches to make a Fallout game look perfect, all in a game that isn’t half as endearing and charming as the Bethesda series of Wasteland survival, Unity had journalists and gamers alike up in arms. The game was not finished, it was not good, it was not acceptable.

In Ubisoft’s defence, they had backed themselves into a corner with their annual release schedule for the franchise, and were under the assumption that people needed another instalment every year. The end result was, well, weeks and weeks of patches, criticisms and fixes for a game that will forever be an off taste in the memory of an otherwise good series.

343 Industries, however, was a different case. The much anticipated Halo Master Chief Collection promised Halo fans the chance to play all of their favourite maps and game types in glorious remastered brilliance, but immediately people ran into problems with matchmaking. In this 5000+ word article, in fact, Rhys Weir has chronicled all the reported issues, patches and generally painted a picture of the game’s first 100 days of being released, he concludes with saying that it’s still dysfunctional and broken, despite the effort that 343 have gone to try to fix it all.

This isn’t so much because the game was rushed, but because it was poorly prepared, which is just as bad, and would have been more avoidable given more testing time, I imagine. But for a game like Halo, which has such a focus on the multiplayer, having a multiplayer system that just doesn’t work (when previous games in the series have worked flawlessly) is inexcusable.

The truth of the matter is, with the game industry having such a dedicated following and with people clambering for any information on the next big game, the hype train is unavoidable, which puts pressure on developers to roll out the games while the excitement levels are still high.

Games like Dragon Age Inquisition, which was heralded as one of the best games of the last year, released with very few bugs, yes there were some here and there, but none were game breaking, and none really took away from the core enjoyment of the game. The Dragon Age fanbase is enthusiastic, dedicated, but most of all, they know that to get what they want, they have to wait.

Patience is a virtue, after all.

So, back to Arkham Knight, Rocksteady didn’t develop the last Arkham game, Arkham Origins, and while it wasn’t received badly, it was the weak link in the series so far. It would have been tempting for Rocksteady to forgo the polishing process and release Arkham Knight last October to make up for what could have been considered a mistake, but what would they have gained in releasing a broken game? What does any developer gain in doing so?

Ubisoft apologised for Unity‘s upset by giving away free DLC, which would have otherwise been paid for, or, for those who had bought the season pass, a free game from their recent release lists. 343 have plans to release a remastered version Halo ODST for the shortcomings of the Master Chief Collection, all this is more work and less profits for the studios and the dev team. Meanwhile, Rocksteady have a few more weeks to finish the game so that people have faith that not only will they be getting a complete game, but that they can trust the studio.

And faith in a studio is worth a hell of a lot in a time where they’re under a lot of scrutiny.

Good Vibrations

This week I’m going to be talking about good vibes! And no, I haven’t had a personality transplant. “Good vibes” is not a phrase I use often, if at all really, but after watching Kyle Bosman’s most recent episode of The Final Bosman on Good Vibes and Metroid Prime it’s all I can think about.

Like myself Kyle Bosman is a fairly straight laced individual, we both wear ties during a normal week, and formality tends to be the norm. Yet every now and then both of us can make statements that are out of the norm; and today I’m all about the good vibes! *puts on shades* *then takes them off because the screen is no longer viewable*

So why good vibes? Well the context for it is “game feel”. When you’re playing a game and there is just something about it that feels right. In essence it’s pure subjectivity. Hyrule Warriors might warrant a solid score of 7, but that game is full of good vibes! It’s satisfying wailing on hundreds of Zelda themed enemies and for me a considerable amount of the vibes comes from the excellent soundtrack, which is a collection of remixes of the classic Legend of Zelda music we all know and love.

In a way Nintendo are the masters of good vibes. It helps that their games are solid pieces of entertainment, if a Nintendo game was released in the same state as Assassin’s Creed: Unity then something has gone very wrong at Nintendo (and in the world). It is very rare for a Nintendo developed game to get a low score, meaning it is very difficult to say a Nintendo game is bad. Yet Kyle makes the good point that just because we think Captain Toad is a brilliant game, doesn’t mean everyone will like it. I might experience good vibes from it, but that doesn’t mean it will gel with everyone.

Recently I took advantage of Nintendo’s very generous deal for release of the Metroid Prime Trilogy on the WiiU. The Metroid Prime series is interesting because whilst I agree with Kyle about the good vibes that come from the original Metroid Prime, as a game I’m not a huge fan of it, mostly because I found the controls too clunky and this got in the way. Yet the games atmosphere is almost unmatched. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the other hand does not excel in the same well in regards to its atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, it does have a really good feel to it, but nowhere near to the same extent as the original. However, the controls make the game so much more engaging, and as a result I’m enjoying my time with Corruption so much more, and therefore I’m in the minority for actually preferring Corruption over the original. That is the power of good vibes. Although I haven’t tried out the original using the motion controls, so that might change.

Of course there are non-Nintendo examples of this. Just last night I tried out the Battlefield Hardline beta. The interesting thing about playing the beta was that by the end of the evening I was having so much fun that it was distracting me from playing the game properly. The aim of the game is to shoot people, yet I was perfectly content messing about half way up a skyscraper and parachuting, or just faffing about in a helicopter. Getting a good score no longer became a concern of mine. In a sense the game failed. It wasn’t just me, I noticed as I went on the total scores of everyone else  dropped ever lower as well. Congratulations to EA for making a fun FPS, but as a competitive shooter it needs refining. So in this scenario the good vibes were of a detriment to the core game, which is a pretty unique situation for a game of this nature to be in.

Of course there are plenty of games with bad vibes, I think it’s safe to say that microtransactions are a considerable source of bad vibes (once again I’m looking at you Unity), but today I’m all about the good vibes. Some of my favourite games have received bad review scores, yet for me games like Killer7 and Deadly Premonition are a continued source of good vibes. So don’t worry about what other people say, if a game gives you good vibes, then its all good.

Stay groovy people!

 

*Next week the New 3DS comes out, so I’ll either have it and I’ll be irrationally praising it, or I’ll still be waiting and will be hyping myself up further like the irrational Nintendo fanboy that I am.*

Coffee Time News 07/01/15

The Ant-man trailer cometh, Bourne 5, and Majora’s Mask special edition

Film

For anyone who missed it last night, the first trailer for this year’s Ant-man starring Paul Rudd has arrived. We don’t get to see him go big yet, but we do see him ride an ant, and joke about the fact that Ant-man changes his name like every week.

Deadpool casting rumours point to a ‘sidekick’ and the big bad. The sidekick, or ‘addition comic voice to accompany Deadpool’, is to be played by T.J Miller, and could be his fractured psyche or Deadpool’s best/wost friend Weasel. The Villain, who’s character is yet unnamed, will be played by Ed Skrein.

Bourne 5 looks to be taking the spot left void by Planet of the Apes 3 to give it some distance from the third Star Trek film in July of next year, the 29th to be precise.

Television

Agent Carter aired last night, and for those who have seen it you might be interested in this piece which talks about the way that Agent Carter’s 8 week run will fit into the greater story.

In other Marvel news, before Christmas we spoke briefly about Clark Gregg teasing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye appearing in Agents of SHIELD. Well that’s looking more and more likely as Renner has recently shared that he is once again suiting up.

Game of Thrones, as Spring is nearly here (which let’s face it is a worse tagline than Winter is Coming), will be seeing another resurgence in publicity, and what better than the last 3 episodes of season 4 airing in select Imax cinemas in North America.

Games

Destiny players will be getting a ‘legendary token of gratitude’ from Bungie this week, they also shared on twitter that some of you may dismantle it pretty quickly, so it looked like we’ll be getting a legendary engram,  

Majora’s Mask’s special edition will include a Skull Kid figurine, which you can take a look at here. So far this is only for the US, but hopefully we’ll see it in England soon too.

Assassins’ Creed Unity continues its attempt to get on your good side by offering the first piece of DLC, Dead Kings, for free. See, if the game had worked on launch, you’d be paying for that.

Coffee Time News 19/12/14

Film

There’s a bunch of character featurettes for Kingsman: Secret Service over here, which only adds kindling to the excitement fire for the film.

Evangeline Lilly divulges a bit more about the Antman plot, including a reference to her character being the daughter of the founders of the Avengers, which may just be a misunderstanding or mix up with the source material, either that or we’ve got a bit more intrigue into SHIELD.

Jonah Hill and James Franco star in the first trailer for True Story, a drama based on real events about a journalist and a murderer.

Television

A new image has surfaced of Charlie Cox as Daredevil, and from the looks of things this is before he suits up, whatever that suit may be. (Hopefully not shiny red leather)

A sneak peak at Agent Carter, which will be filling the gap left by the Agents of SHIELD hiatus in January, has popped up, showing off Peggy’s relationship with her housemate.

There’s a casting notice out for Robin’s parents in Gotham, the show intends to tell the story of how the boy wonder’s parents got together.

Games

Dragon Age Inquisition has two pieces of DLC coming up; one free one and a premium one. Click here for some more details,

Telltale continues its reign of making games about popular properties, though this one may surprise you; a Minecraft game has been announced. Yup. You heard that right.

Those spurned by Assasssins’ Creed Unity now have the chance to claim a free game, you’ve got to have a Uplay account, but hey, free game,

Coffee Time News 17/12/14

Film

Unsurprisingly, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has topped the UK box office chart, earning £9,753,642 in the first weekend. This is also the most any of the Hobbit films has made in the first weekend of sales.

Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom seems to need some educating on what exactly a reboot is. He claims the fifth Pirates film will be a reboot, but with all the same characters, plot history and themes. So I think it might just be a sequel.

The Suicide Squad have pretty much found their Amanda Waller in the form of Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder).  Waller is a major player in the DC universe, being a sort of morally ambivalent puppeteer.

Television

The Flash’s Rogue Gallery just keeps on growing; Mad Men’s Peyton List will be taking the role of Lisa Snart AKA the Golden Glider, who’s kind of incorporeal, 

The Walking Dead is returning to a city setting, or at least the spinoff will be, as it’s taking place in Los Angeles.

Oh it’s time for the teasers to begin for Game of Thrones season 5; here’s a very small, very brief look at the next season.

Games

In case you missed it last night, GTA Online’s Heists are READY ENOUGH FOR A TRAILER.

Day three of the Assassins’ Creed Unity update story; it’s finally rolling out, and it’s huge; 6.7 GB to be precise, but we’ve been told not to worry, as a lot of that will replace existing data.

Shadow of Mordor gets a second DLC in the Lord of the Hunt expansion which introduces new beasts and a new set of Warchiefs.

Coffee Time News 16/12/14

Film

Batman Vs Superman Dawn of Justice has recently finished shooting, and with it has come a host of rumours about the plot, the villains and the heroes.

Christoph Waltz will not be playing Blofeld in Spectre, and it turns out he might not even be playing the leader of the evil organisation.

The Avengers Age of Ultron gifts to you, this holiday season, a look at the newest Iron man suit, in the form of a collectible figurine, but still.

Television

Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman) and Jess Plemons (Breaking Bad) have been confirmed for season 2 of Fargo, and will play Husband and Wife in the ten episode series.

There’s a new poster for Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad spinoff, as well as a synopsis if you missed out on it last time.

HD remasterings are all the rage at the minute, and one show that also got an aspect upgrade (from 4:3 to 16:9) has caused a bit of a stir. Buffy the Vampire slayer’s remastering has had some less than favourable feedback for messing with the show’s lighting, cinematography and showing off some of the crew, so much so that series creator Joss Whedon gave his two cents.

Games

There’s a very short and tease-y trailer for The Order: 1886 that shows just how useless the bobbies were in ol’ Victorian England. (Or new alternate reality old Victorian England).

Hearthstone is now available on Android tablets, and as an incentive, those who download it will get a free card pack, the contents of which will carry over to your other devices.

Yesterday we said that an update for the ever buggy Assassins’ Creed Unity would be heading out, but unfortunately it’s been delayed until Ubisoft ‘can give you the improvements we’ve promised’.