Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is the latest title in the popular Assassin’s Creed franchise and this time we are in Victorian London. You can play as one of two twin assassins choosing to go with the more brutish Jacob Frye or someone that has a bit more stealth and wisdom in Evie Frye. Each one obviously has their advantages and as you progress through the game you can level up each one as you see fit. Even though each assassin has their speciality you can still choose to play them almost whenever you want. Even though Evie is really good at stealth she can just as easily take someone out like her brother Jacob and you can try and play as a stealth character with Jacob as well despite his strengths being elsewhere. You can choose to switch between the two assassins any time you want unless there is a mission that specifically requires Jacob or Evie. Those missions will tend to highlight the strengths of each character with Jacob always wanting to charge into situations head first while Evie researches the problem at hand and tries to determine the best course of action. As you progress throughout the game you’ll experience both their personalities as they give each other a hard time in a way that siblings often do.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is set during the time of the Industrial Revolution and that brings some more mechanics and ideas to the franchise. You can now drive horse drawn carriages around the city which will obviously get you places quicker than running through the streets or on the rooftops. The carriages handle really well and I was able to dodge traffic when I needed to as well as take that sharp turn at the last second. You can also engage in combat with these carriages by slamming into an enemy carriage that is right next to you and if you do that successfully you can even hit the “R1” button to jump on the roof of your carriage, jump over to theirs and then perform a quick assassination. One of the items you can upgrade throughout the course of the game is the carriages as they become more resistant to damage and the horses can go faster. You can also unlock an ability where your enemy’s carriages are a bit weaker making it easier to take them out when necessary. If you are running through the streets and you quickly need to get into a carriage you can either find an empty one to jump in and drive or you can run up to another one and hijack the carriage by throwing the driver to the ground, similar to how you hijack a car in the Grand Theft Auto series. Ubisoft has included a nice GPS system when driving as well as you see a white line that is on the ground that will direct you to where you need to go next whether that is finding a collectible or tracking down an enemy.
On the other hand, if you need to get to a rooftop quickly you can use the brand new rope launcher. Remember in previous iterations of the franchise where you would run up to an object on the side of a building and cut the rope so that it shot you into the air and on to the roof quickly? This is a similar concept but you have this rope launcher at your continuous disposal rather than having to search around to find something. It works really well and it helped me traverse the environment pretty quickly and it also offers up new gameplay possibilities. I could be on the rooftop of one building and then shoot the rope launcher across the street to another building and once that is done zipline to the other side. As I cross to the other side I can stop at any time and drop to the ground if I need to or, if an enemy happens to be right below me, I can perform an air assassination then and there. You’ll also need to use the rope launcher to get some Helix Glitches that float in mid air. This new tool in my arsenal was invaluable on a number of occasions when I needed to escape an area quickly as well as when I needed to traverse a good amount of ground in a short amount of time. I would combine this with my use of Eagle Vision to determine both where the enemy was as well as my objective and plan my routes accordingly.
There was a group of people that experienced a lot of technical issues with the previous game in this series, Assassin’s Creed Unity. I’m happy to say that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate does not have any of those problems. The game runs really well and I didn’t notice any framerate drops during my time with the game. Unlike the last few Assassin’s Creed games, Syndicate is purely a single player experience. There isn’t even a companion app this time around so you can just focus on your own experience and not have to worry about anything else. I have to wonder if this was in response to some people complaining about how the companion app tied in to Unity last year. It was a completely optional experience that didn’t affect your game if you chose not to use it but there were those who thought it was a requirement and Ubisoft probably just decided to do away with it altogether to prevent any confusion. There are other elements of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate that seem to be a bit more simplified. When you find a locked treasure chest, for example, there is no longer a lockpicking mini game. You simply hold the button down and after a few seconds the chest is unlocked. You still need to upgrade your lockpicking skills as you progress through the story but you don’t have to worry about having any lock picks or anything like that. The combat to me also seemed to be a bit easier. Ubisoft completely changed things up with Unity last year and I enjoyed the added challenge the new combat brought to the table. You had to think and strategize about how you were going to approach a situation. You could no longer wipe out 30 enemies in 10 seconds like you could with prior entries in the franchise. When you triumphed in a big fight it felt a bit more rewarding because you had to earn it more. With Syndicate I didn’t have as many problems as I did with Unity and I’m not quite sure if that is because the combat is overall more simple or I have just adapted to the combat with this being the second game using that new system. There were definitely situations though that I found myself in that were quite challenging and you had to think about the best way to approach it, which I appreciated.
One of the new mechanics that I really enjoyed in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was the area of effect. In previous games in the series I always enjoyed using the berserk darts because that would cause my enemies to fight amongst themselves. You could shoot one enemy with one dart. This year you are able to shoot heat sources and have the effect spread. There are many instances in the game where you will see two or three soldiers huddled around a fire in a trash can trying to keep warm. If you shoot that trash can with a Hallucinogenic Dart then all three soldiers will be affected instead of me having to shoot each soldier individually. It is a great tool to have at your disposal and there were many times where I would sit perched on a roof or a wire or whatever and shoot one of those trash cans below me and then watch the chaos unfold. You can of course use the old method as well and just shoot a guard with one of these darts if there isn’t a heat source nearby and watch him go crazy as well.
The main story of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate deals with Jacob and Evie Frye trying to liberate London from Templar control. Jacob and Evie tend to disagree on how to do this though. Jacob concentrates on trying to seize control from the Templars by utilizing brute strength and by building up his own gang called the Rooks to take the city back. As you progress through the game and gain the loyalty of people you can recruit Rooks to your cause and they will fight alongside you. In addition to being able to upgrade your abilities, skills and equipment you can also equip your gang as well. You can get them good training , have them sabotage supplies that the Templars use, increase your notoriety so the Blighters (the main gang in London) won’t mess with you in the streets and more. Evie favors the more subtle, intellectual route. She looks for clues to the whereabouts of precursor artifacts and concentrates on trying to find them before the Templars do. She gets in her fair share of trouble just like Jacob and can wreak some havoc as well. These differences tend to make Jacob and Evie into a good team and they do have a common goal, even if they disagree on how to get there.
The Assassin’s Creed games always have a lot to do in them and Syndicate is no different. There are a plethora of optional side quests for you to do if you really want to liberate all of the different districts. There are child liberation quests where you go and free a group of children that is being forced to work in a factory or another location. You also have gang strongholds where you need to try and wipe out a gang as well as save some prisoners , bounty hunts, templar hunts and more. As you get further in the game you will come across income side quests as well such as hijacking cargo. Once you liberate enough areas in a district then a gang war side quest becomes available where you take on the gang leader for that whole borough and if your gang wins then that entire borough is liberated. Throughout all of this you also have the standard collectibles such as treasure chests, pressed flowers, illustrations and more.
As I mentioned before, the game performs really well. The development team over at Ubisoft has done a great job here both with the presentation of the game as well as the overall atmosphere. All of the different areas looked different and authentic to how it would have looked back then whether it was a residential area, an industrial area, all of the ferry traffic on the Thames and more. London and the surrounding boroughs look fantastic and the soundtrack for the game does a great job of setting the mood. I found the voice acting to be quite good and overall I enjoyed all of the characters that I ran across during my time liberating London.
Overall Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a lot of fun to play and the team over at Ubisoft should be commended. If you are a fan of the franchise then you are sure to have a great time here. If you were in that group of people that had problems with Unity and were hesitant about Syndicate you have nothing to worry about here. I didn’t have any problems during my time going through it on my PS4. If you haven’t played a game in the franchise before then this is a good starting point even though some of the references from previous entries in the series will go over your head. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a wonderful title with two interesting protagonists set during the Industrial Revolution. Be sure to check it out and tell us which of the two new assassins is your favorite.
Originally posted on Gaming Target