Assassin’s Creed is pretty well entrenched as a solid gaming franchise and as gamers we have a fair idea of what to expect when getting the latest release from Ubisoft. And you will be glad to know that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is no different, new visuals and a couple of new lead protagonists but underneath it all the same old Assassin’s Creed we all know and love. And with a new Batman-like gadget, things get a whole lot more up in the air this time round…
This time round you have at your disposal twin brother and sister Jacob and Evie Frye. Jacob likes to lead with a blade and ask questions later while Evie is a little bit more discrete. Between the two of them you have to free the downtrodden Londoners of 1868 from vicious gangs and tyrannical industry overlords. Remember, money makes the world go round, especially during an industrial revolution.
First off, Syndicate is definitely in line with many tried and true Assassin’s Creed elements, which is a good thing if you are a fan. Not so much if past games haven’t grabbed you. Admittedly the setting of London will appeal to a much wider crowd with landmarks like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace to climb all over, but it is still a very familiar game for those who have followed the series. Obviously with a more modern setting there are a few changes to be made, the most defining being the use of firearms. You can still stick to your blades but with so many enemies being armed with guns you sometimes have to play them at their own game. Remember the old saying, ‘Never take a knife to a gunfight’. Gun play is handled differently to Black Flag, not better, or worse, just different. I guess you are less reliant on guns in Syndicate but they could still be deemed a necessity.
Transportation is much more prevalent in 1868 so new gameplay elements have evolved to included these different forms. From leaping from moving carriages to barges on the Thames, to hiding in passing buggy’s, there is always more movement happening around you. Even your base of operations is a beautiful steam train, which works really well as a centre to control your different gangs and allies. Bounties, traders, and your all important collections can also be found on board your train. Although you can change between Jacob and Evie on the fly in the game world and with each of them you can kit out weapons and clothes, I found myself going back to the train and using the wardrobe instead of the pause menu. Kept me drawn into the world that little bit more.
The big addition to your arsenal/abilities is in the form of a rope launcher. Now you can go all Batman on Ye Olde London Towne. Sounds cool and is definitely useful in some areas, more to grab collectables than any other reason. Unfortunately you can’t just aim and shoot, connection points are fixed and labelled, pretty much to stop you getting to inaccessible areas I think . One minute you can hook up to multiple points all over a building only to find the next building has no highlighted connection points. Still fun to shimmy between buildings and drop assassinate the unsuspecting though. As expected with a more modern age your weapons have also moved with the times with Evie’s main stay being a sword cane and Jacob being a bit more brutal with a kukri and brass knuckles.
Visually Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is up to scratch but for some reason I’d just like to see more out of this current generation of consoles. Not just this title but across the board. It is a nice rendition of London though, plenty to explore and landmarks to visit. One of my pet hates appears with certain combinations of gear and that is items poking through clothing. Like a sword hilt or belt that breaks the texture of a coat or cape. Appears in many games these days, not a game breaker by any means but still ruins the immersion a bit. I still have a problem with Syndicate, as I have had with all previous titles, that is when running along open ground if I get too close to a building or object you tend to latch on and start climbing. Can be a real pain when giving chase.
Assassin’s Creed. Been round a while now and most gamers either love it or hate it. And Syndicate is no different. It is what you expect from the franchise and doesn’t fail to fill that Assassin’s Creed game you may have in your life. They do seem to be coming out at quite a frequent rate these days though. Black Flag, Unity, Rogue, and now Syndicate all seem to be ‘recent’ if you like. I’m a fan, open worlds, even if a bit ‘samey’ , lots to collect and bad guys to stab in the neck. I don’t think that will ever get old.