- Jacob and Evie
- Improved gameplay
- Zip line
- Lackluster story
- Side content
The last few installments in the Assassin’s Creed series have been less than stellar. Assassin’s Creed Unity was plagued by glitches and other issues along with a lackluster story. Assassin’s Creed Rogue was basically forgotten by many and did little to separate it from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which many people liked but it still had its issues. Now, with Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the franchise seems to have cleanly assassinated its target, of making a good game that fans of the series will enjoy.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate takes place in London during 1868 at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, making it the latest in history the franchise as taken place besides the present day story part. Since it takes place during the Industrial Revolution technology has a greater impact on the game than ever before. With guns, trains, and other technological advancements, the game feels more technologically advanced than the series has ever been. The setting is filled with what you would expect from the period with child labor, carriages, and giant plumes of factory smoke rising in the air. If there is one thing the Assassin’s Creed series continues to nail its the setting.
For the first time in the series, history you play multiple characters (not counting flashbacks) that you can switch to at basically any time you want. Jacob and Evie Fry are a brother and sister duo that have traits that reminded me of some of the series best characters like Ezio and Altair. Jacob is the brash, cocky, and always looking to get into a fight character that still can be charming at the same time. Evie is the calculated and stealthy character who most seems like the traditional character you would see in the series but she still has other traits that help set her apart. For the first time since Connor in Assassin’s Creed 3, I felt the characters were actually interesting and added something to the game. I would definitely be in favor of more from these characters in the future.
Gameplay in Syndicate is the best the series has been in the last few years. The parkour is improved compared to Unity last year and the addition of the zip line makes it a breeze to climb large buildings and cross wide streets. If not for the zip line some of the wide streets in the game would have made it tedious to traverse London, but the zip line erases any tedious traversal that plagued the series the last few years. The zip line is a must for the series from here on out.
The combat is fast paced and closer to what fans are used to with the series. The combat still has the typical counter, attack, and use item gameplay that has been with the series for years, but it is much improved over Unity. It still has kinks that need to be worked out, but for now it is a system that gets the job done. Some of the kills in the game are extremely brutal and makes the combat more enjoyable as you hope to see an awesome triple or quad kill.
After all the improvements with gameplay, so far the one step back for Syndicate is the side content. I thought Unity did side content and missions very well, I was a big fan of the murder mystery missions from Unity. Syndicate does not have these murder mystery missions, which is a letdown. The main side activities you can do are gang related stuff that helps you clear out the rival gangs influence over London, other activities are rescuing children from factories, fight clubs, and killing targets. The side content isn’t bad, but overall it feels like a downgrade compared to Unity last year. There also is so much stuff to collect in the game it will take you hours upon hours to collect it all.
While the strong gameplay and characters make the game standout, the one aspect that remains disappointing is the story. The story is pretty par for the course as far as the series goes, with Jacob and Evie looking to take back London from the Templars by assassinating a group of targets throughout the game. The main bad guy, Crawford Starrick, is a mad man who thinks he is doing what is best for London. He is trying to hunt down a precursor artifact that plays an important role in the game. The villains have their moments, but overall it is another forgettable cast of villains. The story mainly focuses on the retaking of London by taking out the Templars, who control aspects of the city but it makes the story pretty generic and the missions between assassinations are nothing special. It is a shame that with some of the better main characters in the series for the first time in a while, that the story barely focuses on learning more about these characters.
It’s Assassin’s Creed so you would expect their to be assassinations, and this year the series delivers some of the best assassination missions the series has had. The assassination missions are very similar to Unity last year, but are far better scripted compared to last year. The missions allow you to tackle a assassination any way you want, while offering tips that may help with getting to the target and maybe getting a more cinematic assassination. I felt that there was more than a handful of ways to tackle these missions and I really enjoyed taking my time to find the best way to get to my target. The improved stealth in the game also makes these missions more enjoyable to earlier entries. The more open assassination missions were the best part of an otherwise pretty average campaign.
The present day story in Syndicate is more present than compared to Unity last year and has some interesting moments that make it seem like Ubisoft might be coming close to trying to tackle that storyline again; but overall is still very confusing for anybody who is not a hardcore lore fan.
The upgrade system this year reminds me of what you would normally see in a RPG, which is good. For every 1000 xp you get in the game you get a point to spend to upgrade stats that help improve your character in a way that doesn’t make it seem like you are just getting a skill you should already have, but instead improving the the arsenal you have at your disposal. Both Evie and Jacob have their own skill tree you have to upgrade but most likely by the end of the game both characters should be close to being maxed out. Weapon and equipment upgrades are similar to what the series has had for years, but it gets the job done.
For the first time in years I can recommend playing an Assassin’s Creed game. Syndicate has its fair share of problems, but the improvements vastly outweigh any negatives. The gameplay is the best the series has been in years with the zip line making traversal through London a breeze. While the overall story is another disappointing tale that does little to keep many people interested, the assassination missions are open and allow players to attack assassinations in a variety of ways. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is the Assassin’s Creed game fans of the series have wanted for years now and is a good building block for future entries in the series.