Game: Assassins Creed Syndicate
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Release Date: PS4/Xbox One October 23, 2015, Windows November 19th, 2015
These days, whenever an Assassin’s Creed title is released, the first thing that comes to mind is oversaturation. This isn’t surprising when you consider that this is the 10th game in the series (no, you didn’t read that wrong). As someone who has been playing this series since the beginning without missing a beat, I can say with certainty that this game hits all the right notes. I haven’t felt this confident in an AC game since Brotherhood (the sequel to Assassin’s Creed II). Now I should say that the game doesn’t do anything remarkable or new, but despite that, Ubisoft has made a game that plays it safe, and that’s what the series needed right now.
The latest installment in the AC series follows Jacob and Evie Frye (pictured here), twin assassins running about Victorian London. Without revealing too much, I can say the story follows our protagonists fighting Templar-controlled gangs led by a Templar Grand Master by the name of Crawford Starrick for control of London, while also searching for a piece of Eden (the re-occurring piece of advanced technology in the series). Jacob and Evie are laid out as very different characters, with Jacob portrayed as being more of a headstrong brute, while Evie plays the role of the more traditional stealth-based assassin we’re used to. Despite these two having different personalities and play styles (as well as a few different skills on each character’s skill tree), they play about the same.
The plot isn’t incredibly inspired, but it keeps a moderate pace, providing enough content to prevent the player from losing interest. The real gem here, however, is the story that takes place outside of the Animus, the virtual reality machine that enables users to experience past ancestors’ lives through their own genetic memory. While we have no gameplay outside the Animus, the overall plot makes it the first real bit of progress story-wise since AC III. Dare I say that we may even find ourselves playing as Shaun Hasting in the next installment?
On the technical end, the game runs fine with very little to no bugs being experienced during my playthrough (the same however can’t be said of its predecessor: AC Unity). I encountered some slight hitching as well as the occasional dip in framerate during my 20-plus hours with the game, which is nothing that I would consider overly disruptive or game breaking.
Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty: what I didn’t like. While Jacob and Evie are more appealing characters than say, AC III’s Connor Kenway, I don’t ever feel like I understand either character’s motivation. Jacob only wants to form the strongest gang in London because that’s what he wants to do, while Evie wants to track down the piece of Eden because that’s what she wants to do. The characters seem one-dimensional, and I didn’t feel like I actually understood what the meanings were behind these motives. As far as the game’s core mechanics go, they’re nothing new. Climb towers, reveal missions, and assassinate targets. Rinse and repeat. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, although it can become stale rather quickly. The use of gang members (Jacob’s Rooks) is similar while not identical to that of the assassin initiates in AC Brotherhood.
Fans of the series will love it. While it does nothing new, it gets the series back on track and gives it a breath of life after the terrible taste AC Unity left in more than a few players’ mouths. It’s the most fun I’ve had with the series since Black Flag, and I hope Ubisoft has the sense to give our favorite assassins some time to breathe before we dive back into the Animus.
Score: 8 out of 10