Game: Assassin's Creed Syndicate
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Good evening, guv’nor!
Today, we will be reviewing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate! For those of you who are not familiar with the Assassin’s Creed series, traditionally the game takes place in a variety of settings at different periods of time (i.e. The American Revolution, French Revolution, etc.). This time the team at Ubisoft chose to explore the industrial age in London.
If you already have a general idea of the game, feel free to skip straight to the pros and cons of gameplay.
General Plot (No major spoilers)
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate as always has you, an assassin, fighting against the main villains, the Templars, in order to prevent them from ruling the world. However in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the Templars already have control over London thanks to a head Templar named Crawford Starrick. This is incredibly unfortunate for the assassins because at the time London was a vast empire with control extending almost all over globe. As the intro narration states, [at the time] “He who controls London, controls the world.” With London under Starrick’s rule, unsafe child labor has become commonplace, police officers are corrupt, and a gang known as the Blighters run the streets. The city is in need of change and fast.
Enter the two main protagonists/assassins Jacob and Evie Frye!
Jacob and Evie are twin assassins who want to liberate London from Starrick’s rule. Although they have the same goal, their tactics for achieving that goal is entirely different. Jacob wants to fight the Blighters by making his own rival gang known as the Rooks and assassinate head Templars. Alternatively, Evie wants to stop the Templars from getting powerful artifacts known as the “Pieces of Eden” that could be used to enslave humanity. Their personalities are opposites in a lot of ways and the two even approach missions differently. Jacob is more interested in the brute force approach and Evie is more interested in being stealthy and this can be reflected even in their character skills, but we’ll get to that a little bit later.
Now that we have introduced the basics of the game, I leave the job of uncovering the rest of the story up to you. Let’s instead turn to the gameplay.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate features multiple aspects of gameplay, so in the interest of keeping the review more organized I will be breaking them down into separate sections based on good aspects and bad aspects.
Here are some of the good gameplay aspects of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate:
Two main playable characters
This is my favorite part of the game. Jacob and Evie offer us the ability to customize two entirely separate characters with different types of play styles and switch between them by simply going to the options menu. It resembles how most people tend to approach past AC missions by either stealthily sneaking to a target or brute forcing their way to the end goal. Now, you can choose the character that best suites the way you approach missions.
The skill tree
The skill tree is an interesting addition to the Assassin’s Creed series. Personally, I love the addition of a skill tree in a game that has multiple ways of combat. It adds depth and customization to the characters as well as the feeling of being able to tailor their skill set to your own personal playing style. I have heard some people criticize this by saying that it is making Assassin’s Creed more like an RPG, but I’m not entirely convinced that adding a skill tree truly makes the game an RPG. I think it fits well.
In the past, Assassin’s Creed games have sometimes been frustrating since they often feature a lot of climbable structures but Syndicate does a great job of allowing the player to climb up, down, or sideways on most buildings pretty fluidly. Syndicate also features a new addition which is a grappling hook that shoots from an assassin’s arm gauntlet so the player can travel from building to building with ease. The grappling hook (although reminiscent of Spider man) works remarkably well for the city of London. Without the grappling hook, going from building to building in a dense city would be a pain.
Variety of weapons
In Syndicate, there are a lot of weapons and gadgets to utilize in your arsenal. The three main weapons are the cane sword, brass knuckles, and the kukri. These all have different stats and there are multiple versions of the three main weapons offering a lot of variety for how a player can approach certain enemies. There isn’t much else to say here though besides the fact that they look cool and you can upgrade them to deal more damage.
In my opinion, London is an amazing setting for an Assassin’s Creed game and I was really impressed by how large and detailed London was in Assassin’s Creed. It features famous landmarks including the river Thames and Big Ben along with several local pubs. In addition, there are many underground secrets of London which is pretty cool. One of the reasons that London could be featured in such detail was because of the fact that the Ubisoft team actually had pictures to look at and model London after. Unlike many of the previous settings/time periods of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, photography existed in the industrial age so they could really do their research.
Tons of story content/side quests
Syndicate has a lot of side missions that offer a wide variety of benefits to the player. Some of the side missions will allow you to unlock special weapons and uncover secrets across London. Other side missions such as fight club and cargo heists allow the player to earn money or craft materials to make new outfits for their assassin. In addition, the story has a lot of detail and will take time to complete. Most importantly, the story is not linear and you can choose to skip straight to confronting Starrick whenever you choose however you may not be strong enough to beat him.
As you can see, there are a lot of good things about Syndicate. However, there are also a few bad things about it too that I will address below.
Here are the bad aspects of gameplay for Syndicate:
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Before you start to get flashbacks to the glitch fest known as “Assassin’s Creed Unity”, these glitches are not on the same scale as Unity and are very minor. However, they still do show up sometimes. One of the issues is with the AI. I’ve seen some of the AI continually run into a wall when nothing was there. I’ve also seen some of the cut scenes run when I was replaying the game where the characters just disappeared, but the items they were carrying did not. It was extremely weird to see a cut scene with a voice, no people, and a floating crate that jiggled every so often. In the end though, the glitches didn’t really influence my gameplay too much and if anything gave me a pretty good laugh.
Missions can start automatically
So, another issue is that if you are navigating London by foot being in the vicinity of a side mission can trigger it to start. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it wasn’t for the fact that if you are already on a main mission, the side mission that you are around may take precedent and cause you to fail the main mission. This can be incredibly frustrating and force you to do the mission over and over again.
Fighting can be repetitive and tiring
In Syndicate, the action that occurs in a fight is amazing and is visually appealing. However, the game tends to rely on the fighting mechanic a lot and after a while you may get tired of it after having to do things like fight club and tons of side missions that require you to fight. This is a very minor complaint but towards the latter half of the game I felt burnt out and didn’t really want to fight many more people because of the repetitive process.
There is no incentive to upgrade your weapons
So, increasing your weapons to deal more damage is a cool feature don’t get me wrong. However, there really isn’t any need to do so. Every level grants you access to new weapons that are generally stronger then the predecessor. Until you get to one of the final weapons of the game, there really isn’t a point in upgrading the weapons before because you won’t use them long enough.
I think this is one of the things that Unity actually got right and many people enjoyed. I missed being able to connect with my friends and do missions together because that was a lot of fun. However, I can concede that it could be hard to integrate that into the story. I still was a little disappointed that it seemed like Ubisoft took a big leap forward on a feature that most people enjoyed and then cut it from the next game.
All in all though, this isn’t a bad game by any means which brings me now to the summary.
+ Two main characters
+ Skill tree integration
+ Smooth movement/controls
+ Variety of weapons
+ Tons of story content/side quests
- Minor Glitches
- Missions can start automatically
- Fighting can become repetitive
- No incentive to upgrade weapons until late game
- No multiplayer.
My final score of the game is a 7.75 (above average).
Syndicate features a vast open world with tons of amazing content and customization. Despite the lack of multiplayer and occasional minor glitches, there is a lot of great stuff here. Syndicate doesn’t represent the epitome of storytelling when it comes to most games, but it definitely has an interesting story at least. It also has a lot of features and gameplay that make the game remarkable to play. However, it doesn’t necessarily hold my attention as well as most current games that are out. Now, should you buy it? I would, but I’d probably say for you to wait for the price of it to drop which it will since the franchise always has an annual release.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the review and I look forward to making more in the future.
Good day, ladies and gents!