I was aboard the hype (steam) train for a long time about Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and although it’s predecessor Unity had a few issues I still enjoyed the vibrant bustling streets of Paris and the historic storyline the Creed games offer us. This time Syndicate is set in London (my home city) which gives an even better feeling as I’ve visited most of the historic landmarks but sadly as yet, I have never climbed them to synchronise my surroundings before diving off into a bale of hay.
At the beginning of this year I luckily got tickets to the Assassin’s Creed world tour and attended a small venue giving me a developer session, free merchandise, a spray on tattoo, a beard trim (bit random) and half an hour of gameplay. I walked away hooked, and later at EGX 2015 in Birmingham I played it again but this time a different mission. So when my Ubisoft exclusive Big Ben edition was delivered I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in Victorian London.
Syndicate has a completely different feel and experience from any other Creed game, you play as a pair of twins Evie and Jacob Frye. Evie being the master of stealth and Jacob is a hard-hitting in your face brawler that you wouldn’t like to meet in a dark alley. The combat system is based on close range concealed weapons like brass knuckles, a sword cane and the devastating khukuri. With every mission or collectible acquired you earn experience which allows you to level them up to become master assassins who can craft and equip even better and stronger weapons and equipment.
The transport system fits the period with the introduction of the horse and cart, now drivable so you can cover a vast distance with relative ease or hop on a moving paddle steamer heading up or down the river Thames. For a more personal experience though they’ve introduced the zip wire which allows you to scale buildings with ease or traverse between them allowing you a massive tactical advantage. Dropping from the zip wire to assassinate an unexpecting victim is an extremely satisfying experience.
The game for the first time feels less like a slog, by which I mean climbing everything to synchronise or pursue a target wasn’t a hardship but it did feel repetitive after a while.
In Syndicate it’s such an easy process that you don’t get bogged down running up and down buildings all the time, your given a new level of freedom that was so badly needed. Combat also feels more flowing and responsive, so you’re not stuck with a load of enemy’s for ages, as once you wear a few of them down a beautifully brutal yet graphic intro plays out as you butcher an entire gang in an engaging cinematic.
Talking of gangs there are two main ones in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the blighter’s who are the Templar gang that roam the city exploiting child labour, building up strongholds and having their fingers in a lot of underhand pies. The rooks (although still technically a criminal organisation) are run by Evie and Jacob. They can be fully upgraded to cause even more devastation and aid your plight as you squeeze even more resources and cash out of London as you tighten your grip and seize control of each borough. Once a borough has dropped down enough you trigger the showdown in the form of gang fight, where you meet to finally see who has full control.
The storyline is captivating and immersive as you get to grips with gritty England in the fantastic Victorian era as the rich diversity of characters that have helped mould the modern age come alive. The likes of Alexandra Graham Bell inventor of the telephone, Charles Dickens the famous author, Charles Darwin the founding father of the theory of evolution and Florence Nightingale the mother of modern medicine all come alive as incredible NPC’s and there are even talks of a Jack the Ripper DLC.
This incarnation feels perfect, the small changes are enough to keep any a Assassin’s Creed fan happy with enough storyline and subtle hints of the back story, however even a new comer to the franchise wouldn’t really feel left out. All in all the game brings a few new things to the old table and gives it a slightly fresher look and appeal, like clearing out a slightly messy cupboard. I maybe bias in my opinion as a long-term Creed fan but this game is easily one of the better titles, giving this game an easy 9/10.
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