Ubisoft has been releasing Assassin’s Creed games for the past seven years. With the frankly disastrous launch of Assassin’s Creed: Unity last year and the ever-increasing pressure to release new games annually, can Ubisoft regain their reputation with their latest game, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate?
Unlike in previous games, Syndicate is pretty modern. Well, as modern as Victorian London during the industrial revolution can be. Trains, factories and horse-drawn carriages are found throughout the city and, for once, I felt truly at home running down Oxford Street and scaling the Houses of Parliament. For the first time you take control of two assassins, Evie and Jacob Frye (you could control two characters in Assassin’s Creed 3, but technically Haytham Kenway was a Templar so my point still stands!). As they fight to take back London from the hands of the Templars, you also have the customary race to find a Precursor artefact before the Templars. Modern-day events have been kept them to a minimum with only a few brief cut scenes that are beautifully animated as you follow present day assassins around with little drones.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is almost exactly the same as Unity. There is a new addition in the form of a grapple gun; this allows for some pretty quick climbing, and saves so much time when it comes to scaling viewpoints and stops you from having to go down to the streets of London in order to cross a particularly large gap between buildings. You can switch freely between Evie and Jacob with side missions being open to whichever character you choose.
However, when it comes to the campaign missions, Jacob takes charge with most of the main assassinations, which is frustrating as Evie is designed to be the stealthier of the two; Jacob tends to charge into fights at the drop of his rather stylish top hat. This combat is also pretty identical to Unity. However, now you only have the choice of three weapon types: A Kukri, Cane-Sword or Knuckle Dusters, each with their own brutal set of finishing moves and combos. Additionally, instead of only having specific classes of enemies, they also have their own level system. Couple that with the fact you can only equip certain weapons once you reach certain levels, combat remains a challenge for the most part, however, it is rather easy to back an enemy up against the wall and just attack them as they do not have enough space to attack.
Again Syndicate utilises the age-old system of viewpoints and liberation missions found in almost every Ubisoft game nowadays. Syndicate attempts to vary these by introducing different mission types. These include abductions, Templar bases, Templar hunts, child liberation and more, but because London is a third larger than Paris was in Unity, you have to do so many of these missions that they inevitably become a little monotonous and boring.
I really enjoy the Assassin’s Creed games, and I really wish that Ubisoft were capable of reinventing the franchise. It’s not that I don’t like Syndicate, it is just that it is pretty much the same as the last three games, just in differing locations. I think that this is all down to Ubisoft’s desire to put a game out every year; it just isn’t enough time to make a unique game. Syndicate is a massive game with a 20-hour main campaign, and a secondary one set in World War I (that I haven’t got round to playing yet) that is 15 hours long. Pair this with the hours and hours of content with the liberation missions, collectables and secondary missions with characters such as Charles Darwin, Dickens and Karl Marx, and the three DLC packages currently planned for the next six months. I think Ubisoft has given us more than enough to play with for the next two or three years for them to really take their time with the franchise and create something great.