Gamesplanet Review Round Up: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
One game, two Assassins.
Another year, another Asssasin's Creed game. Assassin's Creed Syndicate follows up from last years disappointing Assassin's Creed Unity with a better story and some new gameplay mechanics. Set in 1868 Victorian London you play as assassin twins Jacob and Evie Frye who must stop an evil tyrant from overtaking London with the help of some famous faces from the history including Charles Dickens and Alexander Graham Bell. Build up your gang to take over districts of London and uncover powerful artifacts to uncover mysteries.
The gameplay is very much what previous games in the series have been, some additions have been made though such as the wonderful rope launcher that let's you glide over rooftops just like Batman or a skill system that let's you customise and play the way you want to be. Also new to the franchise is the ability to switch to either Jacob or Evie at will, each one focusing on a different approach. Jacob favours combat and is a great hand to hand fighter, his sister Evie on the other hand relies on being more stealthy and tactile towards an encounter. Missions range from freeing children slaves in factories to capturing gang leaders, while the activities don't really add variety to the game, it's the story and city of London that takes centre stage. Definitely a strong entry into the series, so how did it do?
Let's dive into the reviews, Yahoo! Games found it to be the best game in franchise since Assassin's Creed II. The rope launcher does seem to be your best friend for travelling around the city, while not quite the Batman Arkham Knight level of freedom it does do a good job getting you from one place to the other. "You can literally go from running on foot to standing on top of Big Ben in an instant with this thing. Being chased by a group of gang members only to rocket up to the top of a church steeple and out of their sight makes you feel like a Victorian superhero." Also like Arkham Knight, you have an improved control system that feels tigher compared to previous entries in the series and stringing together combos feels satisfying. Compared to the online elements of last year's Unity this time around Ubisoft have decided to strip it back to it's single player roots and it's better for it, "Pleasantly enough, Syndicate also takes a big step away from last year’s troubled Assassin’s Creed Unity by removing every whiff of online connected hooey." It was awarded 4 out of 5 stars.
Elsewhere on Polygon scored the game a reasonable 8.5 out of 10. Jacob and Evie do spend most of the time off on their own mission. Evie might be chasing lost secrets while Jacob is building up his gang to take down crime bosses, though each get plenty of time to shine on their own. "Story missions force you into one role or another, but they're given about equal screen time, and the swapping made sense in the context of the twins' often opposing viewpoints on the correct path forward." The story missions are also much longer and have more variety, but the side missions and assassination missions can be special as well. Do you go in stealthy or shoot first, ask questions later? The game let's do you do both, If you want to run in and clumsily kill everyone in sight, Syndicate will allow it, in most cases. But you can play it more carefully, sneak around, find hidden entrances, knock out guards for disguises and more.
This might not have been a good idea, luckily I have a great view
GameSpot gave it a glowing review, "The game is a triumphant return to form for the franchise, and presents a beautifully structured tale with heart and soul to spare. Ziplining through London is thrilling, and the game allows you to organically discover missions and leaves you open-ended solutions lets you to create a meaningful, personal experience within its world." Driving carriages is another addition to the series, you get a sense of Grand Theft Auto hijacking as you move from roof to roof or try ramming yours into another, they are easy to control and offer a nice change of pace from the other missions. London is recreated in great detail, everything from Big Ben to Trafalgar Square is well crafted. "London feels alive. Towers breathe smoke into the sky, stations bustle with passengers and passing trains, the homeless burn fires in trash cans in alleys, and stray cats pause to look at you while you lie in wait for your target." The game received a high 9 out of 10.
Finanlly we have Game Informer who gave it 9 out of 10. The progression system has been improved from Unity, now you have 3 skill trees for each character with points being shared equally as you progress so they level at the same rate with specific abilities for Jacob or Evie only available to them. "Buying skills also results in gaining levels, and higher levels mean you can equip more powerful gear. This satisfying gameplay loop surrounding your gradual ascent conveys a sense of growing power and influence, and ensures that no time you spend playing Syndicate is wasted." You can go pretty much anywhere in the City, but you might be too low level to last long as all of the areas have a "recommended level", at first this might be annoying as you have to level up to keep up but eventually you'll get used to it and as long as you're near the recommended level you should have issues doing that mission.
Who needs roads?
Syndicate is what an Assassin's Creed game should be, a great location, characters with personality, enjoyable gameplay and a good story. Some parts of the game may not offer much in the way of innovation but it's a step in the right direction, perhaps in future they could take some extra time to create some fresh gameplay ideas. It's one of the best in the series, just falling short of Black Flag and Assassin's Creed II. Evie and Jacob are two of the most engaging characters I have ever witnessed in the franchise, going back to a single player game was a good idea and hopefully going forward something that can be used in another title. That said I wouldn't actually mind another run in with the Frye twins.
- Craig Bishop