Syndicate, originally code named Assassin’s Creed Victory, is set in a Victorian London and takes players back to the roots of the AC franchise. Dropping the franchise’s multiplayer modes, Syndicate seems to focus on what made the original Assassin’s Creed titles such a resounding success.
With two lead protagonists, twins Jacob and Evie Frye at the helm and a host of exciting and well developed characters, the story certainly grips you, pulling you in further with every mission. The twins compliment one another perfectly, while Evie is the more subtle and level headed of the twins, Jacob is a little more unorthodox and thuggish, shooting first and asking questions later. Both of these characters are very likeable, but you’ll probably find yourself sway towards one more than the other. This is fine as the game also grants players the choice to switch between each character mid-mission, giving you an added element of freedom. The way the characters and cast interact with one another has certainly improved since previous titles in the franchise. The writers are back in full force, and have pulled out their A-game and created one of the best Assassin’s Creed storylines to date.
The visuals have had a welcomed upgrade and the industrialised streets of 19th-century London have never looked so good. The roads and buildings are alive with the hustle and bustle of residents and the latest addition to the franchise, vehicles, specifically horse-drawn carriages. The arrival of roads and carriages in 19th-century London revolutionised the way people moved around the city and was a fundamental step forward in London’s world renown efficiency. It’s easy to see how and why Ubisoft made carriages a really well developed aspect of the game.
The main consensus of the story is to build a gang to rival that of the current iron-fist power within London, the Blighters. With the progression of each mission, you’ll have a few more muscles join your motley crew. Before long, it looks like something out of The Warriors (1979, Walter Hill).
Whilst walking around London, I’ve often wondered to myself how cool it’d be to run up the side of Big Ben and other such landmarks. In Syndicate, this is of course a reality. The technical struggles that have cursed previous releases in the franchise seemed to have been more or less ironed out. So far we’ve not had any game breaking glitches or technical hitches and after the shambles that was Assassin’s Creed: Unity, boy oh boy, we were expecting them. It’s fair to say that my faith has been restored in Ubi. 19th-century London offers a fantastic playground for any fan of the AC series and in Syndicate it’s presented and executed brilliantly.
With a campaign totalling up to a little over 20 hours of gameplay, the missions return to a simplistic and tidy state. We’ve perhaps taken a back step and returned to the rinse, repeat cycle of “Go here, kill this dude. Now go here, steal this. Go there and kill that dude after that. Then go and listen to those guys…” and so on. Despite the lack of variety, the missions don’t get boring thanks to the brilliant writing, script work and of course, the characters. Other such characters in the franchise wouldn’t have complimented the story so well, for example Assassin’s Creed III‘s Connor.
With a new title, of course there are some new gadgets at your disposal. As well as the addition of carriages cluttering the roads and offering a swift way to cover ground, you’ll also gain a grapple gun. It’s not as grand as Batman’s signature tool, but it makes the painfully slow ascent of a warehouse or church a pleasurable burst of speed and adrenaline. Simply fire and ZOOM, less than a second later, you’re there. I wish my morning commute was that easy!
The combat system has also been refined. Both Jacob and Evie seemed to have been trained by MMA heavyweights, as the bare-knuckle strikes they throw at enemies within the game seem massively over powered. Of course, part of what is great within the AC series, is that it makes you feel like a badass, but at times, watching Evie beat grizzly dudes three times her size to the ground seamed a little unrealistic.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with Syndicate. After Unity left a sour taste in my mouth, I was cautiously optimistic and feared the longevity of the series, worried it was growing thin. The new gadgets, improved combat system, the brilliant setting, the likeable characters and most importantly a solid build with little to no bugs, ultimately resulted in a much more enjoyable experience. If, like me, you were unsure on the future of Assassin’s Creed, trust me, Syndicate is no disappointment. It could well the best Assassin’s Creed title I’ve ever played.
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