ASSASSIN'S CREED: SYNDICATE
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on October 27, 2015
Another year, another Assassin's Creed! It's becoming a tradition that many of us would love to keep alive indefinitely. This year, after the Middle East during the time of the 3rd Crusade, Italy during the Renaissance, Civil War America and France during the French Revolution, it's Victorian England's turn to be the backdrop of these exciting assassin adventures in Assassin's Creed: Syndicate! Hidden blade... check! Fancy cloak... check! attitude and agility... check! We're ready, let's go assassinate someone!
Before we proceed with this review, I have a little confession to make; I've been a fan since the very first Assassin's Creed game and my absolute favorite games are: Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed - Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed - Revelations. Now, I know not a lot of you out there will agree with me, but after that, the series kind of lost its appeal, as far as I'm concerned. Assassin's Creed III didn't quite do it for me. I'm not that fond of ships and pirates, so Black Flag wasn't my cup of tea either. Assassin's Creed: Unity was so riddled with bugs and glitches I quickly stopped playing it, plus, I was never a fan of the French Revolution. So, with this latest installment in the series set in Victorian London, could my love for the Assassin's Creed series be rekindled, or am I forced to just playing the first four games of the series over and over again?
In Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, you live the lives of Assassin twins Jacob and Evie Frye, as they struggle to unravel a Templar network that has a stranglehold on London. This network is lead by a man named Crawford Starrick; a Templar Grand Master who has set his sights on total domination of London, then England and after that, the entire world. He has his grubby Templar fingers in every pie imaginable, ranging from London's industry to its criminal underworld, and isn't about to release his grip willingly. So it seems we have to help him do this unwillingly, won't we?
Upon starting the game, I am once more amazed by the sheer size of the environment. the rooftops, narrow alleys, broad streets, the river Thames; everything is your playground. What I instantly love about Assassin's Creed: Syndicate are the two aforementioned protagonists; Head-strong and somewhat cocky twins Jacob and Evie Frye are a feast to play and remind me of the young Ezio Auditore da Firenze, my all-time favorite Assassin's Creed character... at least, until now. I'm not saying the English twins are more fun to play than our old Italian friend, but they are just as witty, bold and occasionally obstinate as their predecessor was, so that's good news!
Another thing that is worth mentioning is that Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is nearly glitch-free, which makes playing it a fun and exciting experience. The story-lines are woven intricately into the fabric of the Victorian age, leading you to encounter great historical figures, like Charles Darwin, Alexander Graham Bell, Florence Nightingale or Charles Dickens (who I especially like, because he seems to have a fondness for meeting in pubs). These characters will provide you with side-missions that enhance the overall Victorian experience and make the game even more immersive than it already is. The control scheme has stayed more or less the same as it was before, but the gameplay itself is much more smooth than it has ever been. You traverse London with ease, be it on foot, driving a carriage or zip-lining across the rooftops. The possibility to jump on top of a moving carriage or train and go carriage or train surfing is easily one of the coolest new features, incorporated into the game.
Another of these cool features in Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is a brand new game mechanic, never before seen in any of the other games in the series. In Syndicate, you can switch freely between the two twins, letting you choose between two vastly different playing styles and approaches to any given situation. While Jacob is the rowdier of the two, stronger and much more prone to in-your-face, close combat brawling, Evie relies more on her stealth and intelligence. This doesn't mean that Jacob cannot be stealthy or that Evie cannot hold her own in a fight; it just means that one of the two is always more suited for a certain approach than the other. So, whatever your preferred playing style is, you are sure to make the most of it by selecting the appropriate twin for the job at hand.
Visually, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate looks awesome! They've managed to capture Victorian London perfectly, down to the last bleak-looking, foggy, rain-drenched alley. It's exactly this overall bleakness and fog that makes the city itself look almost menacing at times. It's not just a backdrop, it's almost a character in itself. This also makes the story set in this city more realistic and believable. Poverty, child labor, the extremely violent Blighter gang, corrupt politicians and cool historical figures; all these details breathe life into the environment and let you really get into the flow of the game. Another thing that adds to the Victorian flavor of the game is the really cool soundtrack. It really stands out and enhances the entire experience even further.
London is divided into multiple boroughs, each controlled by a different high-ranking Templar. Your job is to eventually 'retire' these people, after sabotaging their businesses and kidnapping their second-in-commands. By doing this, you release their grip on the population. Release it enough and the Templar controlling the borough will seek you out and try to stop you. And when I say 'stop', I mean 'kill', of course. But, since you're not keen on dying just yet, you will need to 'stop' him or her instead. Once you've done that, some of the freed citizens might even join your own gang, called the Rooks.
Forming and expanding your own gang of thugs, The Rooks, in order to tip the balance in your favor is Jacob's preferred approach, while Evie is mostly concerned with recovering a mysterious Piece of Eden, which is currently believed to be in Templar hands. So, although their motives might be the same, they definitely differ in opinion about the best approach to their goal. As you might have noticed by now, I seem pretty excited about this game. And you know why I seem excited? Because I am! I had almost given up hoping for a new Assassin's Creed game that I would like just as much, if not more than my three favorite games of the series. But, with the arrival of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, I finally have just that! So, if any of you need me, I will be lurking the streets of Victorian London, trying to set things right again. And, oh yes, always remember. If you see me, that is only because I want you to see me, by which time it's already too late... mwoohahahaaaaa (turns around and vanishes into the shadows without a trace)
ASSASSIN'S CREED: SYNDICATE
October 23, 2015 (PS4 / XBox One)
November 19, 2015 (PC)