So we all know Assassin’s Creed: Unity and the standalone Freedom Cry were just not of the same standard as previous incarnations in the franchise. Don’t get me wrong – they were totally playable – but they had issues, with many gamers feeling the storylines weren’t strong enough, protagonists not sympathetic or believable enough, the environment lacking those little extras that bring a game to life, and let’s not forget the bugginess. So fans of the franchise looked on at the upcoming release of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate with a mix of trepidation and cautious excitement. Would the game fall flat, or would it soar and restore fans’ faith in the franchise?
Well, in our opinion, the game is a triumph. You’ll be excited to don your assassin’s hood and stealthily, or not so stealthily, cause chaos all over Victorian London.
Unlike previous offerings, Syndicate features two protagonists – twins, in fact, Jacob and Evie. While not the only element that makes a game great, the central characters carry the story, so, however good the action, the story itself, the landscape, etc, if the protagonists aren’t relatable or believable, you just won’t enjoy the game. Jacob and Evie are the fabulous characters that Assassin’s Creed is known for, like Ezio or Altair. These siblings have an engaging, interesting relationship.
Their unique dynamic injects more color and personality into the story and each character brings different styles of gameplay to liven things up. Evie is the more stealthy of the siblings. She’s faster and more nimble, so is better suited to stealth missions. Jacob, on the other hand, is a more confrontational character who, although he has much of the stealthiness that is the foundation of Assassin’s Creed, he is more comfortable brawling in the streets and engaging if full-on, close-quarters, hand-to-hand combat.
Set in Victorian London, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate features a vibrant yet gritty landscape. The city is gigantic, offering players plenty to explore. The rich cityscape is incredibly detailed, really helping to bring the game to life. Little extras, like being able to eavesdrop on conversations of everyday citizens of Old Blighty happening on the cobblestones below you, the smog, and the grime of Victorian London during the industrial revolution allows you to immerse yourself in the illusion of a living, breathing city with a dark underbelly.
Meeting crucial historical figures, like Charles Dickens, Alexander Graham Bell, and Charles Darwin makes the story even more engaging. With the introduction of the Loyalty system, you have to work for the respect of these characters by completing side missions.
In a break away from the tradition of the franchise, Syndicate doesn’t require you to use just your two feet and a ship. Instead, you’ll find yourself a Victorian Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto mashup as you take the reins of a horse-drawn carriage.
To improve the fluidity and reduce the restrictions of your awesome free-running across the city, you get a Batmanesque rope launcher so you can create zip lines between buildings, rappel up and down structures, and perform awe-inspiring uber-stealth kills from high above.
We love it. Yes, there’s obviously some similarities in the plot from previous installments – but that’s all part of the fun. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is a much-welcomed return to form. But what do you think? Love it or hate it? Let us know your thoughts.
– Katy Willis