The Assassin’s Creed hype train will be adding yet another carriage to the track will the reveal of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate this coming Tuesday the 12th, and now seems a good a time as any to decide whether or not we care. This franchise has had its highs and lows, but no nadir was ever reached quite like last year. Last year brought the release of Assassin’s Creed Unity, the first title in the series to be exclusive to the eighth generation of consoles. This was their opportunity to move the Assassin’s Creed name into the new generation with a confident foot first. Instead, they skipped the stumble and went right for the face plant.
An unfulfilled promise of epicness was not Unity’s downfall. Several other installments were known to suffer from repetition fatigue and none crashed quite this hard. What kneecapped Unity right out of the gate was that it was that it was simply a technical mess. One would think I game designed specifically to run on one generation of platforms would run adequately on those platforms but Unity disagreed, and what we were left with was one of the worst Assassin’s Creeds… when it was working well enough to play.
To digress back to the original point, this year’s Assassin’s Creed has much to answer for. Syndicate, titled Victory until very recently, was a leaked Assassin’s Creed title that is confirmed to take place in Victorian London. Remaining on the cynicism tangent for a moment, the timing of this leak was very convenient for Ubisoft as it distracted everyone from the abysmal reception Unity was receiving. Either way, it would appear Ubisoft is putting their confidence in Syndicate to be the title indicative of their potential on this generation and to distract us from last year’s mistake.
So all that in mind, what does Syndicate have to offer? An English-Victorian setting is new given the fusion of the old world with the technology of the industrial age, but at the end of the day, it is another old European city, the likes of which we’ve seen several times before. This is not a prediction of the game’s doomed status in any way, but hopefully the developers rely on more than the city layout alone to draw us in.
The yearly release cycle for the Assassin’s Creed franchise began wearing thin long ago, and Unity did not help matters. The release of Black Flag the year prior proved that, with a little imagination and creativity, this release frequency does not necessarily have to be determinative. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has as much potential as any installments before it, but perhaps more riding on its success than most.