Welcome to our Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review, a game set in MGL’s own country of England, with London as it’s home for 2015.
London is a remarkable city, not one I see too often but the history around every corner when I do get there is staggering. This was the perfect fit for this year’s instalment of Assassin’s Creed and Syndicate, even with some flaws, is one of my favourite games in the series.
With the stunning architecture, more visceral combat and the two lead characters really being some of the best in gaming this year. All the ingredients were there to make a great Assassin’s Creed game, and Ubisoft have delivered this year.
While the overarching plot is not so stunning and there are some notable technical issues with the game, it’s still a great ‘Creed.
Look and feel
To those who are not bothered about graphics in games, I say this: scale the Palace of Westminster and climb right to the top of Big Ben and not be impressed. It’s beautiful, from the architecture and the little details as you climb up the building, or indeed shoot up it with the rope launcher. Plus you have the glorious city to look at too.
It’s really well designed, full of people and activity and a joy to explore.
An addition year with the new hardware has made its mark on the game’s graphics and presentation. While there are bugs in the game, the framerate is so much better this time around, as is the draw distance of the city and the general flow of everything as you play.
The detail also extends to the characters with even better facial expressions, detailed clothing and more atmospheric locations. When you consider the time period of the industrial revolution, the smoggy, dirty looks of the time is captured so well it’s the perfect representation of London on could have hoped for.
Assassin’s Creed games may be all about gameplay, but it’s so much for fun to experience that gameplay in a world as well thought out as this one.
Story & Gameplay
The game starts out with an introduction to the Frye twins, Jacob and Evie. Both get a level to play that teaches you the basics and let’s you experience their world.
My fear with the game was seeing Evie as a mere sidekick. And while she isn’t, by default, given as much time in the game as Jacob, overall, she’s a very strong character and the relationship between the two of them, not to mention the banter, makes for some of Syndicate’s best moments.
The narrative that pulls them through as they try to free London from the Templars and the man in power, Crawford Starrick, is a relatively thin one that ultimately ends a bit flat. But the journey there was certainly an enjoyable one thanks to the return to form gameplay wise.
Starting with the obvious, the two character mechanic opens up the gameplay in a very nice way and also gives Ubisoft a bit more licence to make more varied characters from the norm. Since this is indeed London and the 19th Century, the game has a much more dirty feel to it, and the combat certainly reflects that with Jacob taking the lead as your brawling character and Evie the more subtle and stealthy Assassin.
This alone is a massive step for the series and I was concerned this would be either, one main character and a side-kick or just two identical playing roles but you can be the girl if you want. But thankfully it works perfectly, the two complement each other in having different playstyles, missions and even personalities when it comes to cut scenes and motivations.
But what stands out most in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is the gangs system and it really is the feature of this instance of the series. In a similar way to InFamous, you start with a map totally overrun and out of your control, but you soon set out to take it back. There are gang strongholds across each of the districts of London, all of them varying in style from more dirty industry areas to beautifully rendered traditional areas of London.
Jacob creates his own gang, The Rooks and progressively recruits people to join him and his members in taking back the city. This is all done very simply by tapping R1/b as you see a member willing to rebel and join you. Then you can start fights on the street with the Templar controlled Blighters, but ultimately you need to take down those strongholds and confront them in a gang war, winning the area for your Rooks and the Brotherhood of Assassins.
This is the most addictive gameplay mechanic since exploring the Sea’s in your ships with Black Flag really making it special after taking the best feature out of the disappointing Assassin’s Creed III.
Upgrades not only affect your character but your gang also has a set of upgrades that you really do need to focus on in order to allow them to dominate the city. With this and the various upgrades and crafting you can use to make more weapons, there is a lot of depth to your Assassin’s Creed experience this year and I really have enjoyed my time with it.
But this is still an Assassin’s Creed game and as such you get those annoying moments where the game just goes wrong. Bugs are by far better than Unity but there are still moments that see people vanishing during cut-scenes. Collectables around the city are also not correct in numbers on occasion with the game stating there are more to collect than their actually are available. Plus you get some moments where, in the open world things float or get trapped on objects etc.
In other words, the usual.
Still, with the amazing gameplay mentioned and the new rope launcher that makes for a lot of fun and an entirely new way of getting around the city. Plus the interesting main characters and the secondary ones too like Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria itself all add together to make one fantastically fun and addictive Assassin’s Creed game.
If you consider Assassin’s Creed II and Ezio the best of the Assassin’s Creed series still then this is as close to that level of quality in terms of characters, gameplay and a beautiful open world to explore. The main story is a bit of a let-down in the end but the way you get there is so enjoyable you won’t actually mind too much.
With loads to do in a stunning, industrial revolution London I think I’d put this as the best in the series for me personally and, even with its bugs, is one of the best action-adventure games this year.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review Format: PS4