REVIEWS | November 6th, 2015
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate review

Developed by Ubisoft Quebec and published by Ubisoft, here is the new instalment of the Assassin’s Creed series. This time it is branded Syndicate and yes, we have gone to London for this epic adventure. By some critics and fans the predecessor release, Unity was not quite the fulfilment for the expectations after Black Flag. From our experience marking the ninth instalment in the series with Syndicate, Ubisoft have made massive amounts of effort in making justice to the Assassin’s Creed series by improving and adding new features such as travelling systems, refined combat techniques and stealth mechanics.

This time we are in 1868 London during the Industrial Revolution and may I say that they made a great job, as it looks stunning. This time the developers have introduced two main playable characters who apart from being assassins are twins with the names Jacob and Evie Frye. They are both Assassins and while continuing on their father’s steps, the Frye twins are a complete opposite of each other. Here is where the story becomes interesting and with a whip of comic relief. Ubisoft have created two different characters with Evie being the cautious, stealth and loyal to the ideas and father’s mission while her brother Jacob is more about blasting his way into the enemies’ quarters and building up his gang, which he brands ‘The Rooks’. So, this way Ubisoft have made a more interesting and mixed gameplay to keep you away from boredom. This time we cannot complaint that the main characters do not have a sense of humour while putting forward their sibling rivalry, ending up with a clever character design. Unlike the predecessors, Ubisoft have not included a multi-player mode for this release, which actually it is not a bad idea. For the Assassin’s Creed series, personally I look forward for the single-player part only and the feature of online play for me wasn’t missed much.

Of course, we do not have all London to play into but we have Westminster, the Strand, City of London, Southwark, Whitechapel and Lambeth to explore and liberated. The story in this instalment is to liberate the people in London and its people from the industrial revolution victims who are the small children and adults in forced labour and oppression orchestrated by a viscous Templar Grand Master by the name of Crawford Starrick. Your mission is to find the Piece of Eden and stop it from being an instrument of evil while liberating the people from the tyranny of Starrick. There is not straight continuation of the series but from the fact that you go and search through the Kenway mansion in London, which happens to be living quarters of the late Edward Kenway and inhibited for a while from his daughter we can say that the game is a continuation from years after Black Flag.



Having two characters for in-game experience, you can freely switch between Frye and Evie at any time. Both having individual sets of skills which can be upgraded with skill points which you earn along the game. Each character has its own campaign missions while sharing all side missions and open-world activities. Jacob enjoys the core assassination missions while Evie explores stealthy and fact-finding missions like looking for relics and forgotten tombs. Mentioning the side missions, Ubisoft have made a great job in setting up the side missions after you complete the campaign missions, which makes them more meaningful and feeling part of the story experience rather than just a filler. Ok, you have the normal side quests which are finding lost chests, beer bottles, pressed flowers and glitches, but apart from that, the others have been cleverly integrated in the story. There is one last side quest which are little music boxes spread all over London which from the Progression Log you can see the location and a photo of the area to find them. You will know you are near as you will hear a music box song. Once you collect them all you can uncover the Secret of London which will give you the Aegis armour for Evie. You can start looking for them as you firstly discover the Reuge’s vault.

You start off with nothing and with Jacob’s initiative to start a new gang with the name of ‘The Rooks’ you start slowly building up this gang by taking over areas which are controlled by ‘The Blighters’ who took over London. Thou it is a side quest, it’s more integrated with the motto of the story which is to liberate London and while you take over the areas with the Templar Hunt, Kidnapping missions, liberation of child workers and taking over strongholds, you will have the gang war. In a gang war, your Rooks will be dwelling against the Blighters and at the end you will have to challenge their boss. After defeating the boss, you will have full control of the area.

Along with the story-line of Syndicate, you will find and meet historical characters like Alexander Graham Bell, Karl Marx, Charles Dickens and others, not forgetting Queen Victoria. All these have their own missions for you to take part of.



As said, Ubisoft have put a great deal into detail this time and London looks fantastic. The suburbs, slumps and rich areas of the era are constructed to the very detail. London is divided into areas your exploration extending to Whitechapel, City of London, The Thames, West Minister, The Strand, Southwark and Lambeth. Each with their own characteristic. Thou the map is quite huge, it is not an exact replica of London but still, what about going from one side to another? Well, you can easily ride your train which is mainly your hideout or going from one roof to another, or just race the roads of London with a carriage. I have never experienced the Big Ben and Westminster like I did in Syndicate as I could go on top of it and then explore The Tower of London from the inside. It was really fascinating stopping in a corner and watching the streets alive with activity and viewing the detailed sceneries while taking a stroll on my train.

Another aspect to taking over London is the transportation. You will have a number of side missions to take over the transportation with heists which including trains, riverboats and carriages. It’s not boring to go around London as you can grab a carriage. Carriages can be either easily found around, or you can hijack one. Don’t think you can go Grand Theft Horsey around; thou I would be funny. Carriages don’t have transportation purpose only, you can use the R1 button to get on the roof while driving and jump on another to hijack. You can also use the square button to ram an enemy carriage attacking you. The only train you can be onto and control is your own. You cannot drive trains or riverboats. One of the features and quick means of climbing high places is the Rope Launcher which to be honest was greatly appreciated with myself being a fan of the series. With previous games, to reach high places, you would need to climb it all up and it was painful to wait. Now with the Rope Launches which is free i.e. no need to buy them in-game you can fire it at anything really and zip up a building or zip-line from one building to another. Whilst on zip-line you can air-kill, jump into a haystack or simple let go. The rope launcher can be easily used as a quick escape method by blasting yourself on top of a building while being chased by the Blighters or the Police.

Combat was updated with more fluid and agile experience for the player. Action during combat has gotten more aggressive with death moves being executed when the enemy is near death. You can notch it up a bit by putting a number of enemies in near death and affect an execution combo. This skill can be purchased with skill points. Thou there isn’t a huge number of weapons choice, there is a number of variations. You can use Cane swords, knuckle dusters and Kukri… oh and of course the gun, gauntlets, bombs, hallucination darts and knifes. There are a number of different variation of these weapons which all have their own characteristics like lethality, stun and attack point and all can be upgraded. Talking about upgrades, Jacob and Evie can be upgraded with outfits, gauntlets and gang upgrades which surely comes in handy in gang wars.

Thou stealth for Jacob is not an option, stealth has a major overhaul and welcome as it is no longer mapped to a button. During game play, you can press the X button to go into stealth mode and your character will put on the hood. While in stealth mode your character will automatically move into cover position and stick the objects. A fantastic and innovative for the series, makes the stealth and sneaking into child liberation and stronghold fluid and easy to control.

Conclusion

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is the fresh and awaited sequel after Black Flag. It was a great experience which we personally enjoyed. Ubisoft have really captured the essence of the Creed’s experience and once more made a fantastic game for us to enjoy. I am not saying the game is perfect as there a few glitches here and there were the character got stuck between two objects or the character is invisible in a cut scene; but these are minimal and definitely not show stoppers. One thing is a bit frustrating thou when you die and restart the mission, the loading times can be a bit painful thou. Apart from those, well done to Ubisoft, justice has been made to the Assassin’s Creed series.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate was reviewed by Videogamepeople.com and rated at 9.5 /10
"Almost perfect"
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