Making a new Assassin’s Creed game this year isn’t all that hard. After last year’s disaster that was Assassin’s Creed Unity, a game that is competent would be hailed as an improvement by many. Thankfully, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is more than just competent, it is a good game that manages to refresh the entire series.
Set in Industrial-era London, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate puts you in the shoes of twin assassins Evie and Jacob Frye. The former is a devout Assassin whose goal is to track down the remaining Pieces of Eden to stop the Templars. The latter is an individual who rebels against the Assassin’s burdensome legacy. Both their viewpoints sets the stage for the Syndicate’s story, which is engaging thanks to the fact that the characters are likeable and well-established.
CHOOSE YOUR CHARACTER
Throughout the game, you’re able to switch freely between Jacob and Evie, much like how GTA 5 handles multiple characters. Side missions and open-world events are open to both, but the main storyline missions are mostly handled by Jacob. The playstyles of both characters are quite similar to each other, which is a little disappointing as I was expect both characters to have differing playstyles.
World building is an area that I particularly liked about Syndicate as well. As the game is set in the Industrial-era, the skyline of London is filled with smoke as the factories below it are hard at work churning out materials. Famous landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, the Palace of Westminster and the Tower of London are also present in the game. It’s not a particularly accurate recreation of London, but it manages to get the job done.
For the most part, the main storyline is a dark and serious affair. The fun parts however, comes in the form of the side missions. Syndicate may be considered as one of the sillier instalment in the series. Some of the side missions pair you up with various well-known Englishmen to accomplish tasks that have highly absurd scenarios. For some, they would say that this missions takes away from the general tone of the main storyline, For myself, I’m enjoying myself despite the tonal shift.
Gameplay is largely unchanged from the previous Assassin’s Creeds. You’ll still be stalking, blending into the crowd, and free running throughout the game. That said, Syndicate does have one new addition to your arsenal. Making its debut in Syndicate is the grappling hook, a device that lets the characters in the game channel their inner Batman. Who needs to climb up a building when you can just hook shot your way to the top of the building. Syndicate has also taken a page out of GTA by allowing you to steal carriages when you’re on the ground, allowing you to traverse the world much faster than just using your feet.
Combat in Syndicate is fast-paced and fluid, but can feel repetitive over time. On the plus side, some of the combat manoeuvres feel painful and a few finishers look particularly gruesome. Taking the roll of weapon smith for Syndicate is Alexander Graham-Bell, and he will provide both assassins with the tools to get the job done.
NOT QUITE PERFECT
There is no denying that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a huge improvement over the misstep that is Unity, but that is not to say that the game is perfect. The control does hiccup occasionally, and the annoying “grabbing the wrong ledge” problem is still here in all its frustration.
Also, the game is rather buggy as I’ve crashed to the desktop quite a few times throughout my playthrough. The AI companions can also bug out, forcing you to reload your checkpoints in order to proceed with the mission. Load times gets longer the further you progress through the game as well, making it annoying if you need to reload a checkpoint frequently because your AI froze again.
The biggest problem Syndicate has however, is the fact that the game largely remains the same. You’re still doing the same things you did in the other Assassin’s Creed games. You continue to stalk your prey, you continue to look for Pieces of Eden, you fight, flee, hide in haystacks and watch as the Templars and Assassins try to off one other. For all the improvements that Syndicate has, you are still playing an Assassin’s Creed game. If you’re looking for a total revamp of the game, Syndicate will disappoint you.
Despite the fact that there are no big changes to the standard formula, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is still fun to play. For me, this game managed to wash away the foul taste of Unity, which is admittedly a very low bar to set. It isn’t perfect by any means, but it is one of the better games in the installment after Black Flag.
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release Date: October 2015
Genre: Third Person Adventure