Is Assassin’s Creed Syndicate the best one in a long time?

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate was the game that was supposed to make up for all of the mistakes made by the previous game in the series, Assassin’ss Creed: Unity. For the most part, Syndicate did. There are cleaner mechanics, fewer bugs, and less clutter on the map in terms of collectibles and side objectives. However, a lot was taken away from the series including no online multiplayer.  I suppose it is preferable to take away some game modes to make the mechanics cleaner and the story more immersive, versus releasing a game with many glitches and a lackluster journey. However, my preferred solution would be for the Ubisoft team(s) to take more time to develop the game so that the potential for all of the game modes can be fine-tuned and included. Imagine what Assassin’s Creed could be, and how much players will miss the series if there was at least a 3-year gap between releases? 

Game Name: Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Platform(s): Multi-platform

Publisher(s): Ubisoft
Developer(s): Ubisoft Quebec
Release Date: October 23, 2015
Price: $59.99 (purchased for $30.00 on Black Friday)

Climb, sneak, stab, and punch your way through Victorian London, under the control of Crawford Starrick as Assassin twins named Evie and Jacob Frye. Initially you can switch between the two characters at will, but eventually, the story establishes a sibling rivalry by assigning specific story missions to each protagonist. Every game in the Assassin’s Creed series depicts this conflict between Assassins versus the Templars, but Syndicate allows you to play as two different Assassins that take different approaches to stopping the Templar’s. Evie is the older twin who tends to be more serious and empathetic, often helping strangers along her journey. She takes the broadest approach to stopping the Templar’s by tracking down the remaining pieces of Eden, an ancient relic used throughout the series. Jacob, on the other hand, tends to be more playful and snarky, finding great pleasure in building a gang called “Rooks”. He takes a more practical approach to tackling Templar control by using the Rooks to take over Blighter territory and assassinating the territory leader. Each Assassin twin has a unique play style.

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Evie uses the more traditional Assassin’s Creed style dominating in stealth and Jacob dominates in close combat. There are three skill trees including, stealth, combat, and ecosystem (using the world around you such as scavenging), in which both characters can utilize upgrades from all three skill trees. They do each have character-specific unlocks such as Evie who can turn invisible when stationary and has increased knife damage and inventory, while Jacob unlocks deadly combo’s, automatic gun counter head-shots and Defense tier 3. Essentially you do not want to limit each character to their respective specialties because a stealth skill such as lockpicking, will come in handy for both of their journey’s. You can also purchase gear, outfits, and weapons with unique perks for each character.

The combat overall felt more precise where you had to time your counter attack’s more strictly than the previous games, and the enemy’s seemed to have more health. However, if you have a fully upgraded Jacob, you can sloppily go through open world missions and easily beat a gang of enemies. The combat remains simplistic and the AI remains well, not too intelligent (especially in comparison to Metal Gear Solid: Phantom Pain AI). Both assassins were likable and the combination of their mission’s brought the most immersive story since Assassin’s Creed 2. Unfortunately, the Syndicate journey had a pretty bad ending, where you defeated the boss with repeatable quick time events. Some of the best moment’s in the game was journeying with historical figures such as Karl Marx, finding hallucinogenic plants with Charles Darwin, bringing Benjamin Disrael’s wife and her dog to drink in the slum’s of London, visiting a haunted house with Charles Dickens and getting the best items from Alexander Graham-Bell. 

The gameplay has minimal additions including a rope launcher, which allows you to travel through London, climbing any structure and escaping enemies that spotted you, with ease. Although free-running maintains its simplistic R2 climb and drop controls, the rope launcher is a good item to make up for the occasional clunky climbing, where you can sometimes grab the wrong ledge, or when you press the drop button, your character climbs up instead. One thing that stood out for me in Assassin’s Creed 2 was observing the crevices of each structure and figuring out where I can grab on, to eventually reach the top. I have mixed feelings about this rope launcher because on one hand, it allows me to feel like a Batman or Spiderman (except without the gliding and leaps), it brought another dimension to aerial kills and makes traversing around a big map better. On the other hand, it takes away from the unique climbing puzzles that the series previously had to offer. Another new addition to the game-play includes an electric grenade that allows you to stun and damage a large group of enemies, but it will absolutely give away your position (just rope launch away when you do).

Next, there is a convenient and surprisingly well-handling form of transportation called a horse carriage. Time Square makes me against horse carriages, but this game brought horse cruelty to a whole other level. I mean, there was a trophy that included me ransacking 5,000 objects in London AKA I spent the entire game driving like a nut, running over objects and NPCs. Another trophy was to flip 5 carriages by shooting their horses :cry: . This made Assassin’s Creed feel a bit like Grand Theft Auto when Hijacking carriages, and like Mad Max when side-bashing enemy carriages that were chasing you. Lastly, the gameplay offers an opaque white ring around your character and another around nearby enemies, which makes stealth a lot more organized. You can even take a Blighter or Policeman hostage, and utilize this white ring as a meter for detection. 

Syndicate does a really good job capturing London in 1868 by including train stations and factories across the map. Although I’m more partial to mystical vista’s such as the environment and sky in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Syndicate absolutely captured the 19th century industrialized setting in London. I would rope launch into a cloud of smoke from a factory pipe and then I would climb down landing perched next to a stray cat in an alley way.  The Assassin’s Creed series has always been a beautiful game with a well-crafted map, that captured the intended location and its landmarks really well. There is no doubting the extensive research and passion for culture that goes into this game. Although the character design and intricate details may not be as superior as Metal Gear Solid: Phantom Pain, it still remains a graphically impressive game.

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Keeping up with the series reputation of a beautiful soundtrack, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate’s music absolutely captures the sadness of the oppressed, and the triumph in victory. The music gets intense during battles, and ominous during the World War 2 Sequence. As you are climbing to a viewpoint you can hear an ambient melody becoming stronger and more apparent, the higher you ascend and the closer you get to synchronization. Every time you are detected by an enemy, the music becomes loud and obnoxious. One musical piece that stood out to me the most, was the melancholy tune of despair during child liberation missions. Seeing the innocence stripped out of their childhood and forced into labor, was almost as sad as the horse abuse.

Worth the buy, at a price drop.
  • Graphics - 8/10
    8/10
  • Game-play - 8/10
    8/10
  • Audio / Sound - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 6/10
    6/10

Overall

Ubisoft has made an improvement to making sure Assassins Creed: Syndicate wasn't as buggy as Assassins' Creed: Unity, by minimizing the amount of open-world objectives on the map, limited NPC crowds, and eliminated alternate game modes such as multiplayer. These changes made platinuming the game a lot more desirable and less redundant. Although you may spend less time playing this game than you did the previous games in the series, Syndicate doesn't over stay its welcome, as much. If the ultimate goal for Ubisoft was to keep the game clean and more playable; that goal was accomplished. I still think Assassin's Creed 2 and Assassin's Creed: Black Flag are the strongest in the series, the former being a masterpiece for its time and the latter being one of the more innovative with gameplay additions. Ezio is still the Assassin I admire the most, but Evie and Jacob are strong runner ups. Assassin's Creed: Syndicate hands down has one of most immersive journey's in the series. Within the past few years, I have experienced this consistency, where every time I platinum an Assassin's Creed game, a new one is announced to be released within the year or the following year. Besides this making the game's allure feel repetitive, I haven't had a chance to miss the series.

Pros:

  • Likable protagonists and fun side missions
  • Less cluttered map
  • Excellent world design
  • Minimal bugs

Cons:

  • Underwhelming ending
  • Occasional imprecise controls
  • Simplistic gamplay
  • No multiplayer option
7/10

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About The Author

Delaila Lugo
Editor/ Video Game Reviewer

At 2 years old, she was the little sister that was given the unplugged NES controller, and when finally discovering her big brothers trick, she couldn't be stopped. Her parent's would buy almost every single console (NES, Sega Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, N64, etc.), with the expectation that they had to be shared. Finally purchasing her own PlayStation 2 is when she finally accepted gaming as one of her treasured hobbies. Favorite Games: The Last of Us and Bloodborne