Tag Archives: Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, a big ol’ boring collectathon

I started playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate when I came home from the hospital last August; I’m still playing it. It’s a long one, bloated with things to collect and many uninspired missions that I no longer even care about completing the way the developers clearly want me to, but I like finishing things that I start, and so I’ve stuck with it still despite it being really boring. Those are both my words and Melanie’s word; the poor thing has had to endure watching me run around like a maniac in search of every single collectible. I’m currently in sequence 8, with one more sequence to go, along with a few Achievements to unlock because, at this point, I’ve put in a good chunk of work to unlock them already…might as well see them pop.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is set in a fictional history of real-world events and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with liberty, and the Templars, who desire peace through order. The story is set in Victorian-era London and follows twin assassins Jacob and Evie Frye as they navigate the corridors of organized crime and take back the city from Templar control. Naturally, this being an Assassin’s Creed game, you’ll run into many a notable figures as you stab and loot your way to victory, such as novelist Charles Dickens, biologist Charles Darwin, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, political theorist Karl Marx, nurse Florence Nightingale, Duleep Singh (the last maharajah of the Sikh Empire), Sergeant Frederick Abberline of the Metropolitan Police Service (known for his investigation of Jack the Ripper), and Queen Victoria. Phew.

It’s an Assassin’s Creed game, which means it does all the same things previous ones have done, but on a grander scale, this being on the Xbox One and not the Xbox 360. It’s got main missions, side missions, a thousand collectibles, gear to upgrade, income to earn, gangs to upgrade, skills and perks to unlock, and so on, just like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag–maybe the last one I’ve truly enjoyed–Assassin’s Creed II, and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I wasn’t thrilled with Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and all I remember from it is that is focused heavily on bombs. Anyways, taking place in a bustling place like London, the buildings are bigger and more closely connected to each other; to help get around somewhat faster, both Jacob and Evie have access to a grappling hook device that shoots a zipline from one place to another. This still doesn’t make all the running around fun or that much quicker, as climbing can still be iffy, with the occasional leaping off of rooftops to your swift death below.

Here’s something funny I’ve been doing while running around from one place to another simply to collect a pressed flower, a poster, a beer bottle, or a chest full of crafting/upgrade ingredients. I’ve been telling Alexa–that robot lady everyone seemingly now has in their house–to play a playlist of polka music. Honestly, it makes all the to-ing and fro-ing much more enjoyable, because it’s not like any interesting dialogue is happening at this time, and getting from A to B can often take a couple of minutes, depending on where you are and whether or not there’s a fast travel viewpoint nearby. At some point, I have to give up the notion that I’m going to open every single chest in this game because…there are just too many.

Combat in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is still a button-mashy mess. You can string together a couple of combos, as well as counter an incoming attack from a different enemy, but only if you time it just right. Then, some enemies, require you to break their stance by stunning them before you can begin a new combo. This sounds par for the course, and it is, but things go sour real fast the minute you have four or more enemies attacking you at once, as well as snipers on rooftops that you have to dodge. I eventually began using hallucinogenic darts from a distance to get enemies to fight each other, with me sneaking in at the end to finish off the remaining survivors. It’s not the coolest way to go about it, but it works. Also, while the skill trees make it seem like Evie is the sneaky one and Jacob is the more aggressive combatant, both play exactly the same way and can unlock the same abilities for fighting…so there’s really no point in having two playable characters other than for story-related reasons.

Looking at my games to install list on the ol’ Xbox One, I still have Assassin’s Creed III to play. Also, this month, we’re getting a free copy of Assassin’s Creed: Rogue from Games With Gold. Ugh. I’ll never be done with this series. Plus, there’s the newest ones, Origins and Odyssey, which, according to podcasts I’ve listened, sound like they are too big for their britches. Can’t wait. Part of me enjoys the idea of a collectathon, but maybe only one that is both not this big or a bit more fun to play. Heck, I enjoyed collecting 10 eggs recently in Dear Cousin more than anything I’ve accomplished in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Please pray that I’m finished with this beast sooner than later.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #14 – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Ungodly boring
Hate tail missions, save the Queen
At least there was cake

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

2018 Game Review Haiku, #17 – Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

Bombs are a big deal
For an older Ezio
Nothing new divulged

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

In Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, you fight ideas with bombs

I’m continuing to work through the Assassin’s Creed games…well, the ones I have anyways. Left to go in my current collection are the topic du jour (psst, that’s French for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations), Assassin’s Creed III, and two entries from the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles sub-series, which I’m lead to believe are a bit different in structure and style. I’ve already played the first game, the second game, the sequel to the second game, and the one featuring pirates and battles at sea. I like each of them to varying degrees.

All right, here we go. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is the third and final chapter in the so-called Ezio trilogy. It picks up right after Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, which, I had completely forgotten, ended with a big ol’ killer twist. Anyways, spoiler alert for a 2011 game…in three, two, one. Desmond Miles has fallen into a coma due to the stress of being forced to kill his ally Lucy Stillman while being controlled by Juno, the hologram attached to the Apple of Eden. In an effort to save Desmond’s mind, Rebecca Crane places him back in the Animus, in the machine’s safe mode called the “Black Room”. Alas, the only way to repair his mind is by reliving his ancestors’ memories until there is nothing left for them to show Desmond, at which point the Animus can separate Desmond from Ezio and Altaïr and awaken him from his coma. Er, yeah–it’s not at all confusing. And so, you jump back into the perspective of the still suave but older Ezio Auditore. Four years after ending the life of Cesare Borgia, Ezio has traveled to the former Assassins’ fortress in Masyaf to discover the secrets Altaïr had previously unearthed and find the true purpose of the assassins.

Phew. Look, at this point, I’m not really paying all that much attention to the plot, especially since I’ve already heard that, despite the game’s boasting subtitle, there are very few revelations to learn in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. I’m here for the running around, rooftop climbing, knife throwing, stealth stabbing, hay jumping, bomb tossing, collectible finding antics. Also, buying different dyes for Ezio’s outfit always makes me happy, especially the green-themed ones, and watching Constantinople grow due to his influence and the money roll into your bank account in larger amounts is extremely satisfying.

As far as I can tell, this plays just as well as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. I think by this point in the series Ubisoft tightened the controls and really made everything feel both good and natural. I’m finding myself not making as many  jumping mistakes when climbing up tall towers, and the hookblade upgrade really helps move things along quicker, with Ezio now able to leap higher and use ziplines conveniently placed around the city. Otherwise, it’s an Assassin’s Creed game, and so you probably already know what you do in these games, generally. Strangely, there’s some optional first-person platforming sections when playing as comatose Desmond, and they are about as fun as you might initially expect. I’m going to finish them all for the sake of Achievements only. Also, if the Templars become too aware of your actions, they will attack one of your dens, and the only way to get it back is through a tower defense minigame, which I do not like one bit.

As of this writing, I’m somewhere in…sequence 5 (of 9) for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. I’ve only seen two or three instances of tailing missions so far, and they honestly weren’t that bad compared to others. Otherwise, everything has been par for the course, with some fetch quests, some platforming challenges, some hidden murdering, some open murdering, and a whole lot of collecting treasure, purchasing shops, and completing challenges. For some reason, I really like these kinds of games because there is always something to do, a goal to go after, not just the main quests. Even standing around idle will eventually help, with money being deposited in your bank account every twenty minutes.

Perhaps the thing that separates Assassin’s Creed: Revelations from others in the series, at this point in its release, is its focus on bombs. For those that don’t know, bombs are explosive weapons used by assassins from as early as the High Middle Ages, and they can be employed for a variety of tactics, including escape, assault, and distraction. Ezio can craft his own bombs by looting dead soldiers for materials or he can purchase them from illusive shopkeepers, and I have found myself using them more than expected; if anything, they are great distraction items, especially if you need to make a quick getaway. Still, the controls for them can be fiddly, and trying to use them effectively in the middle of an eight-on-one sword fight does not always work out right. It does add some variety and options to the missions though.

I don’t expect to learn much by the end of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, but coming to it many years later, and not right after the previous game, wherein many were beginning to suffer from Ubisoft fatigue, I’m having a fine ol’ time. I also have to wonder how many, if any, are even playing this game’s multiplayer; I’ll give it a try after credits scroll, but I won’t hold my breath.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and the honeydew list

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is a perfect game for me. It allows me to do a bajillion things at once…or nothing at all. And along the way, I’m rewarded profusely, no matter which path I take. Progression is always building, and this progression is never lost as the game auto-saves like a nervous cokehead stuck fortuitously inside police headquarters. I love it. I can play it in quick chunks of 15 minutes or for hours at length.

Just like in The Saboteur, the overworld map is key to getting things done. Instead of just being bloated with countless white dots, Ezio has to stare at…countless icons. All of them different, all of them something to see, to do, to stab. Here’s just a small taste of everything I can do at this point in the game (DNA sequence 3):

  • Kill Borgia captains
  • Burn Borgia towers to the ground
  • Collect Borgia flags
  • Recruit assassins to the brotherhood
  • Train assassins by sending them on missions across Europe or having them take out Borgia soldiers
  • Buy famous locations
  • Do mini quests for arts merchants, tailors, and weapons dealers to unlock special items
  • Collect feathers
  • Remove posters to lower one’s notoriety
  • Take on assassin contracts
  • Do sidequest missions for locals
  • Start memory sequences to continue Ezio/Desmond’s story
  • Read emails
  • Replay memories for fuller synchronizations
  • Purchase stores to upgrade Rome
  • Buy paintings to fill out Ezio’s hideout
  • Hire prostitutes, thieves, or mercanaries to help with missions
  • Find and search the numerous hidden tombs of Romulus
  • Solve Subject 16’s puzzles
  • Collect from numerous treasure chests hidden throughout
  • Destroy Leonardo’s creations
  • Climb buildings and complete viewpoint synchs
  • Train and earn medals via virtual reality sessions

Honestly, I’m sure that’s not everything. And I’ve excluded online multiplayer from the list. Seriously…this game gives you a run for your money, especially considering that I got it on sale for $39.99. And as I mentioned before, you can do all the above, a few things, or none at all. Sometimes I just like to climb buildings and look out at the city; other times, I enjoy riding horseback through the countryside. On occasion, I will simply sit and people-watch. Everyone everywhere is fascinating. The game can be, all at once, the most peaceful and violent experience presented, and I can’t wait to chip away it more and more.

Just about finished with The Saboteur

Well, I had a successful weekend grinding ambient freeplay events into oblivion in The Saboteur. How successful, you ask? Just check out this string of Achievements unlocked over the past two days:

Tourist (15G): You collected all monument postcards.

Wrecking Crew (15G): You completed 333 ambient freeplay in Paris Area 1.

Unnatural Disaster (15G): You completed 212 ambient freeplay in Paris Area 2. 

Walking WMD (15G): You completed 239 ambient freeplay in Paris Area 3.

Guerilla Warfare (15G): You completed 425 ambient freeplay in the countryside.

Whew. The toughest part about this grinding was…not quitting. Especially in Paris Area 1, 2, and 3, because in those areas, the majority of ambient freeplay events are on the roofs of buildings, and if there’s one thing Sean’s not, it’s Assassin’s Creed. Climbing roofs and up tall, bulky buildings is slow and unfun, clunky to put it perfectly, and some buildings seem nearly unclimbable. They are not, but it could take a good ten minutes or so just to find the one ledge that will get things going in the right direction. Frustrating when all one is looking for is a silly little postcard. I definitely had more fun blowing up Nazis in the countryside, using trees for cover and running alongside streams. Plus, y’know, cows. Mooo. Er, right. Anyways, at this point, there’s four Achievements left in the game. Two seem impossible for me, one is a maybe, but would require even more repetitive grinding, and the last is halfway complete, but I just don’t know if I need to play The Saboteur anymore. I’ve seen a lot already, blown up just about everything–in fact, there’s only 10 white dots left on my map. Check out my e-peen! But yeah, with a nearly empty map, there’s only running around and listening to Sean curse. Guess me and him are more or less fini.

Overheard this convo in GameStop last night

Before hitting up Quiznos for a delicious sammich last night, I browsed through the GameStop next door for a few minutes. So many DS games, so many that I want to play and experience. I left the store empty-handed, but not before overhearing the following conversation:

Customer: How’s Modern Warfare 2?
Cashier dude: Fucking sick. Shit’s like…fuck, man. Sick.
Customer: Yeah? Sweet.
Cashier dude: But I gotta be honest with you. Assassin’s Creed II is killing it. I didn’t think it would, but it’s killing it.
Customer: You’re lying.
Cashier dude: It’s good, man. They fixed it. Like ten people traded in Warfare today for it.
Customer: Oh. Is it sick?
Cashier dude: No, I’m fine.
Customer: No, the game.
Cashier dude: Oh, yeah? Warfare‘s sick.


That said, despite having some qualms with Assassin’s Creed, my interest in Assassin’s Creed II is growing. If only it wasn’t $59.99 though. Money, you do not make things easy.

JUST BEAT: Assassin’s Creed


Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre(s): Third Person, Action-Adventure
Mode(s): Single player
Rating: M
Time clocked: Not sure exactly, somewhere around 15 hours or so

The Basics
You are Desmond Miles, a bartender kidnapped for his memories. Conversely, you are also Altaïr, an assassin stripped of his rank and forced to earn his place back in the cool club by eliminating a number of targets that are somehow involved in the same plot to obtain a “piece of Eden.” It’s all very mysterious stuff, and you basically just told what you’re told (“Go to sleep, Mr. Miles!”) until you can begin to piece things together for yourself.

The Good
The graphics, namely those of the cities you’ll visit and explore, are simply stunning. The cities and their streets and their rooftops and shadows and little dirt-covered crevices—they all just look absolutely gorgeous. People walk through the street with lifelike fluidity, and the small sounds of chatter or a pot breaking really do add to the world.

Free running is a blast, and it works out well just about 90% of the time. Once the guards knock you down and have you surrounded, there’s really no chance of escaping without doing some good ol’ sword-swinging.

The combat system (at times) is fun. You have a variety of options: take guards out ahead of time with throwing knives, do a low-profile kill with your hidden blade, or duel it out with swords, countering as you go. This, however, is not button-mashing combat, and if one isn’t careful with their timing, they can find themselves getting slaughtered easily. But once you find your rhythm, taking out an entire circle of city guards is both exhilarating and nerve-wrecking.

The Bad
Unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed is a lot like the directions for shampoo. Once the game gets going, you are sent to one of the main cities—Jerusalem, Acre, or Damascus. After sneaking inside, Altaïr must find the local assassin bureau where he’ll get his first clues about the mission. After that, there’s some eavesdropping, integrating, and pick-pocketing…once enough of these side missions have been done, Altaïr is then given the option to terminate the latest target. Kill him, and head back to Masyaf for some talking until you are thrust back to another of the Holy Land’s cities. And that’s it.

The Fugly
It’s annoying to have to do the same thing over and over again; it’s even more annoying when the said same thing offers you nothing new. I saved every single citizen being bullied by city guards, and about 50% of them told me they’d run right home and the other 50% said that all the city would know of my good deeds. Neither of these claims really solidified. What would’ve been nice is if my actions led to something. For instance, maybe extra guards get posted in areas where I saved someone, or a single citizen (maybe the saved citizen’s brother?) would help me in a fight or something like that.

Speaking of worthless, there’s the flags. Fun to stumble upon, a pain to fully track down, and they exist only for Achievements-sake. Again, if they did something for Altaïr (like letting him run faster or fall from greater heights) then they’d serve a point. Alas, they do not.

Lastly, there’s the “ending” to talk about…what a disappointment. I was just as dumbfounded as Miles was after seeing that weird vision and writing on his bedroom’s walls. Granted, Altaïr’s storyline came to a sound and understandable conclusion—why couldn’t Miles? After the credits roll, we’re given control again and can wander around his confined cell for clues, but there’s really nothing else there. A shame, as I wasn’t even sure if the game was over at that point, but I guess it was…

The Overall Vibe
Assassin’s Creed is a game that should be played though not entirely to its end. Visiting your first city and running along a stream of rooftops is a sure-fire blast, but once you beginning to see the game as nothing more than the same ol’, same ol’ it loses its charm fast. There are some great moments here, but it takes a bit of grinding to get to them. The “ending” is a complete letdown, nothing more than a lure for those hungry for Assassin’s Creed II.

7 out 10

I totally am the Keeper of the Creed

Took a small break from my new crack (Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times) last night to run around in Assassin’s Creed. Earned two achievements, one of which was story-based. The other, however, I’m pretty pleased with. See below:

Keeper of the Creed
(10G): Find All Flags in Masyaf.

Hidden throughout the main hubs of the game world are flags. Some are easy to spot, glistening on top of roofs, but the majority are hidden in nooks and behind buildings or down alleys that have to be walked. The flags do nothing; it’s just something to collect. But it calls out to my OCD and therefore all must be gathered. And there were 20 flags to be hidden in Masyaf, and I found them all without the use of a map or guide, which makes me feel pretty darn good. Granted, there were only 20, and some of the other cities have a ton more to find, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled.