Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is Ubisoft’s latest release of the series. It features Evie and Jacob Frye battling out control of London with The Blighters. Somewhere along the way they run into more historical figures as you would expect from Assassin’s Creed by this point.
I decided to pick up this game against my better instincts. I’ve always held a deep love for the series despite its many faults. The last Assassin’s Creed game I’d played was Revelations, and I was excited to see how the series had changed. But I’m sorry to say that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate didn’t do anything new or creative at all. I might be too harsh on the series. But at this point, I feel that Ubisoft is reaching right into my pockets to grab my money, without offering me anything in return.
Our story features two of the most generic characters you will ever meet. Jacob and Evie Frye. Honestly, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly their personalities are supposed to be. All I could gather was that Evie was the brains and Jacob was the brawn. And that’s about the extent of it. Don’t expect any character growth here, the writers couldn’t be bothered.
So Evie and Jacob head to London town to search for a piece of Eden while setting up a new gang in town. “What’s their motivations?”, you might wonder. Well there’s a mentioning of their father being an Assassin. But there’s that’s it. There’s nothing else.
It’s everything you’ve seen before. Templars want to rule the world or something and the Assassins are the good guys. But that never quite comes across to the player. I suspect we are supposed to feel like Jacob and Evie are crusaders for good, but Jacob acts like a 12 year old sociopath and Evie never develops a personality beyond scolding Jacob for acting like a child.
All in all the story is simply too lazy to be called anything other than boring.
Let’s start with what I did like about Syndicate in the gameplay department. The stealth has been changed, and I think for the better. Now the player can crouch and hide behind objects to cover assassinate targets. It’s still the standard rooftop stalking and air assassinating, but the range of weapons has been slightly lowered, and remaining undetected is hard the first quarter of the game, until more perks are unlocked. Which brings me to my next point, the upgrade system.
I actually liked the perks and skill unlocks. Some areas won’t be approachable until you have a certain level of gear. It’s mostly just a thinly veiled way to prevent the player from unlocking every area of the map at once and complete story missions, but once the player reaches level 6, the challenge curve goes down.
The perks work well but too many of them will seem obsolete. They won’t become worth getting until later levels, but buying them raise your level and allow you to buy better gear. It flows well together and creates a nice sense of balance.
There’s now a grapple hook, allowing for fast access to rooftops in a Batman-esque sort of way. This works well and allows players to transport across the street to other rooftops quickly. The free-running system has seen changed as well, but it’s not so much an improvement as a disaster. It allows for more ease of running, but dictating whether Evie or Jacob will jump to the next ledge or off the rooftop to their deaths is hard to dictate.
The combat system has been changed once again, and I like it. It’s fast paced, and keeps the player on their toes. The player must avoid gunshots by pressing Y and completing combo kills. It’s satisfying and rewarding.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics of Syndicate aren’t anything to be proud of, and it tends to have an otherworldly glow surrounding things, but with the open world map and freedom of movement, the graphics could certainly be worse.
Assassinations are completely contextual, and overall, the controls have been simplified. No more weapon wheels or game pausing. This is smoother for gameplay, but means that there are less equipment options.
The simplicity works well for the game, and shaves off some of the extras that deter from the meaty core of assassinating.
Calling Syndicate difficult would be an overstatement, but it’s not easy either. It all depends on how you decide to play. Doing story missions alongside the occasional territory mission will yield the best results. Unlocking territories isn’t necessarily difficult once you’ve reached a slightly higher level though.
The curve of difficulty is there. Once you’ve gained mastery of stealth, the game becomes a cakewalk.
Personally, I can’t claim Syndicate to be replayable. It’s open world venue does allow for finding collectibles as usual, but as far as real gameplay the player won’t be convinced to go back.