The Assassin’s Creed series has had both moments of glory and tremendous failures over the past eight years. Though the games have had both major breakthroughs in gameplay and graphics, certain published some sequels have had their fair share of poor reception. With Ubisoft’s rocky decision in the series, every installment can seem like a gamble for the gamer. So, how does Assassin’s Creed Syndicate hold up?
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate takes place during the industrial revolution of 19th century London. With an environment unique from other Assassin’s Creed games, Syndicate takes during an age where coal and iron working where at their apex. Though not entirely a time of peace, the backdrop of Syndicate is far from grand wars of previous titles. This era works for Syndicate since it concentrates on the harsh environment of the world, the citizens, and the assassins seeking change in London.
With fewer NPCs roaming the streets, Syndicate centers on the horse carriage and shipping traffic surrounding London. The traffic system can really make a player think in how they approach the game’s various missions.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate follows the lives of twin assassins Jacob and Evie Frye. With conflicting personalities and distinctive fighting styles, the protagonists of Ubisoft’s latest addition to the Assassin’s Creed series provide a different mix to the game.The game starts off with the twins already in the middle of their careers as assassins, rather than have you go alongside them through their journey to become assassins. Jacob is carefree and keen on joking around, which really shows while he is speaking or eliminating Templars. Evie, on the other hand, is intuitive and educated. Jacob is aggressive and brutish in his combat while Evie has a more refined elegance. The subtle differences in the assassins’ combat help reflect the personality of the character you’re controlling.
Put these two characters together and their sibling remarks/humor provides excellent interactions amongst themselves and others around them. The twins are a refreshing change from the “my family member dies and I want revenge” mindset that has plagued protagonists in the previous installments. I find myself enjoying Evie and Jacob’s interaction to be a wonderful mix and they may be my favorite video game characters to date.
Both assassins can be accessed at any point in the open world setting of London, though there are certain story missions that won’t allow you to switch between the twins. This may not be ideal for players that enjoy one over the other, though it does show the world and story through two different set of eyes.
Within the series’ latest installment, the mechanics surrounding weapons are outfits have been revised for an experience that focuses on the story. Fans of the the series that played Assassin’s Creed Unity may remember the game’s long list of weapons and clothing system that were meant to increase stats and personalize your assassin. While these elements can still be found in Syndicate, the options are greatly toned down. Syndicate replaces the swords, pikes, and great axes of previous titles with concealable weapons. Rather than drawing a saber and engaging templars, Syndicate has players utilizing handguns, brass knuckles, cane-swords, and kukris.
Though there are few upgrades that are character specific, Syndicate allows you to improve the twin assassins in a relatively simple manner. By combining personal upgrades alongside those of your in-game gang, you will really feel like you can control the streets of London.
Though Syndicate does not have many options in regards to weapons, the game makes up for it with a new close quarter’s combat system that bears a resemblance to that of the Batman: Arkham series or Shadow of Mordor. Combat places greater importance on a hand-to-hand combo based system where players can utilize the environment around them. I personally had a lot of fun fighting on top the moving trains that can be found in the game and was elated when I discovered I could knock people off. Combos in Syndicate are brutal and I found myself cringing at the game’s brutal finisher moves. Syndicate offers some of the old fashion Assassin’s Creed finesse while also allowing gamers to take a more aggressive approach with either assassin. This combat system is also complimented with an upgrade system for the variety of skills each of the game’s protagonist.
While Syndicate’s combat and the upgrade systems take major steps in the right direction, the game’s free-running suffers from similar issues found in previous titles. Gamers will continue to have problem getting either Evie or Jacob to move exactly where they want them to when scaling buildings or leaping from building to building. Luckily, Syndicate incorporates a new grappling system to help ease the scaling of London’s buildings. An instance where this newly implemented system particularly stood out to me was when a mission had me climb to the top of Big Ben. Normally climbing to the top of the clock would taken around fifteen minutes of gameplay in another game, but the grappling hooks allowed me to climb to the top of the monument in less than ten seconds. The grappling hooks are a huge help when trying to get to different parts of the cityscape.
Though I wish I could tell you that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is free from the gameplay glitches that plagued previous titles, I can’t. I’ve observed both NPCs disappear out of nowhere while I was standing and a group simply waltz past me while I was engaged in a fist fight during a mission as if there was not a battle happening at all. There also appears to be some major disconnect issues that should hopefully be fixed in a timely manner with the next a patch update.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has some rough spots to fix, but the game has offers several improvements that both fans of the series and gamers just picking it up can enjoy. If you can overlook the troublesome free running problems and the common game glitches, Syndicate can be an enjoyable gameplay experience.
I give Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate an 8 out of 10.