Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is the 9th major instalment in one of the most successful and loved franchises which has seen us introduced to many of the historical figures of the last 800 years. Set in 1868 at the peak of the industrial revolution, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate follows the story of twins Evie and Jacob Frye as they battle to free London from the grip of the Templars.
For the first time in any of the main Assassins Creed Games, we can play as a female character; we can also for the first time switch freely between both main characters Evie and Jacob. Evie is the more intelligent twin and relies on her stealth and wit, while Jacob is more hot headed and is more adept at close quarter brawling.
In Assassin’s Creed Syndicate we have London split into 7 boroughs, Whitechapel, City of London, The Thames, Southwark, Lambeth, The Strand and Westminster. Each area has a number of tasks such as Templar Hunts, Child Liberations, Bounty Hunts and Gang Strongholds all of which must be completed to liberate the borough, each area also has a leader which must be defeated in a gang-fight and then the borough is free from Templar control.
More historical characters are revealed to us in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate including Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Alexander Graham Bell, Florence Nightingale, Duleep Singh, Sargent Fredric Abberline and Queen Victoria.
Fortunately there is much less interaction with the modern day, which I can only say is a good thing; personally I hate the interaction with Abstergo and the modern day in previous Assassin’s Creed games, but that may just be a personal thing.
Ubisoft have maintained the same button set up in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate as in previous games, which makes getting to grips with the controls relatively easy if you have played any of the previous games. If you haven’t played Assassin’s Creed before it is quite a simple layout and you can quickly master the strike and block combos in general, running and climbing are all relatively straightforward.
If you have played many of the recent games like Batman Arkham Knight or Mad Max, you will find the controls feel familiar; Many of the games around seem to be using the same play mechanics, are all games going to become uniformed in their combat style? and if it was the case would this be a bad thing, in my opinion it would not as it would make life a lot easier.
Combat can be a little tricky as you advance through the game and I found the controls were less reactive to the more complicated combinations. Also when attempting to run when in close combat can be very frustrating as I climb when I want to run and when I try to drop I swing around the wall, this has led me to losing contact with the target, when I am in a fight with multiple targets all trying to prevent me from kidnapping their boss.
I can only call the graphics of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate “Outstanding” this is more like a top end ‘Pixar Movie’ than a video game. If you are anything like me you will go sightseeing in London, but don’t expect the London we all know today, while many of the landmarks remain exactly as they were in 1868 many don’t.
Lighting is spot on the mark, right down to the paraffin lamps, which flicker in a very realistic fashion. The reflection in water is near perfect and the smoke which there is rather a lot of is right as well. Ubisoft have conveyed the atmosphere of the industrial revolution to perfection and the poverty that affected parts of London, while still capturing the feeling of opulence in the more up-market areas of the capital.
Foliage, Trees, Brickwork, Water and Clothes are all spot on and only add to the realistic feel of the game, even the effect of rain in puddles is near perfect.
One of the most imposing and impressive landmarks of London is the Houses of Parliament, this was one of the first places I visited in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. The graphic reaction of this London icon is stunning to say the least, the architecture has been captured to near perfection, as have all of the famous landmarks, I have seen photographs of the Palace of Westminster that are not as stunningly impressive as the image in this game.
Most of the sound in the game is excellent, most but not all, for example the sounds the characters make when climbing does become irritating after a while as it never changes no matter how short or long the climb.
Footsteps change sound depending on the surface you are walking or running on, grass sounds different to mud, and mud sounds different than cobbles. When you walk on wood there is a slight echo, and when you walk through leaves there is the swishing sound that I used to love in autumn as a kid.
The sound of wind and rain are excellent, and when in or close to factories it is just about spot on the mark. Even in the streets there is a lot of sound that you can’t quite put your finger on but you know is there, like in any city it is filled with noise, this has been captured very well in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
The soundtrack is good and you can get access to download it from 30G from Ubisoft Club, when you reach a certain point in the game. Ubisoft have captured the ambiance of 19th century London and this helps the player to become immersed in the game play without making it your main point of focus.
Each of the historical characters has a sequence of missions; add to this the main missions and the side missions and you will not be surprised to know you will not finish this game in a couple of hours. You quickly become immersed in the story and game play, and feel you are part of the community in London in the 19th century, albeit that none of us are actually Assassins.
I personally found it an advantage to play as Evie most of the time and I only switch to Jacob if I know I am about to get into a fight. Assassin’s Creed has always been about sneaking about and as Evie is more attuned to stealth it makes sense to play as this character. Evie is also hell bent on finding the ‘Piece of Eden’ and most of her interactions in the game focus around this fact. Jacob is more interested in bringing down the Templars, physically stronger than Evie, Jacob is more inclined to hit first and ask questions later.
There are some interesting parallels in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and the modern day, in an early mission for example, you are trying to remove illegal opium from the streets of London, where you need to track down the drug dealer then trace this back to the source and eliminate the entire supply chain, which ultimately is all about cleaning up London, something that has not really changed in 150 years, although sneaking around on London’s rooftops with a hidden blade assassinating drug dealers today would be frowned upon to say the least.
One thing that I did find a little disconcerting is the effect of firearms in the game, it can take 3 -4 shots to kill an opponent unless it is a headshot which will be a ‘one shot kill’. Yet with a throwing knife it takes 2 shots to kill or a single knife to the head.
There are some very nice animated multi-kill sequences in the game, if you can get 2 or more players into near death status in a brawl, killing one will trigger a multi-kill animation, which although quite brutal does have a morbid sense of achievement when you take out 5 or 6 opponents.
There is no Companion App or Multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, which I was personally a little disappointed with, as I enjoyed the 4 player Co-Op in Assassin’s Creed Unity, but I do think I was in a minority. I never enjoyed the Multiplayer in any other Assassin’s Creed game so I am not that overly disappointed there is not one in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
There is more customisation in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate than you can shake a stick at, from equipment and weapons to costumes and colours, not to mention the gangs and the skills.
Upgrading the gangs gives you a variety of advantages, the menu is split into 3 sections Ringleader, Insider and Swindler. Ringleader focuses on improving the ability of the gang members and making them more available to help, while Insider deals with your reputation and item availability in the game. Swindler is all about increasing how much you can earn in the game.
Costumes have to be upgraded separately, however the colours are shared, if it is unlocked for Jacob, it is unlocked for Evie. Weapons, gauntlets, and firearms can all be upgraded however once you have them they are available for both Evie and Jacob, although some are better for one than the other.
Skills also have to be upgraded separately; it is advantageous to focus on Stealth for Evie and Strength for Jacob early in the game, although as you progress both will eventually have all of the same skills. Keeping in mind that some skills do give Jacob a distinct advantage over Evie, and others give Evie an advantage over Jacob, it is up to you to decide how you want to play the game and this will influence which skills you upgrade first. Also in the Skills menu is Ecosystem that both characters can benefit from, although this one is slightly better for Jacob than Evie.
Like all good Assassins Creed games there is also a crafting menu where you can craft gauntlets, weapons, equipment and clothing; you can also upgrade your pouches to carry more knifes, bullets, bombs and medical supplies. So all in all there is a massive amount of upgrading and crafting to be done.
Many of the London’s historic landmarks are available to visit, however, it is worth remembering that they will look a lot different in the game from what they are now, like 10 Downing Street where the layout is completely different than we are used to and has no gate, in fact in the game it is open at both ends. Or like Buckingham Palace which in the game is missing the Victoria Memorial which was not actually erected until 1926.
Perhaps it’s just me but I find that Assassin’s Creed always stimulates my interest in the history of the time and that location, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is no different and I have spent some time looking into the history of London around 1868.
Historical information in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is not as accurate as it should be, in the description of St. Paul’s Cathedral it refers to the church changing from Catholic to Protestant under Henry VIII and back to Catholic under Mary Queen of Scots. This is untrue as Mary Queen of Scots never sat on the throne of England, and would only have been 11 years old when Mary I came to the throne. Henry VIII was succeeded by Edward VI and then by Queen Mary I (Henry VII Daughter) who became known as “The Bloody Mary” who indeed did decree St. Paul’s as a catholic place of worship, before its permanent association with the Church of England under the reign of her sister Queen Elizabeth I in 1559.
I was really looking forward to playing Assassins Creed Syndicate because of the time period and the location, I can truly say hand on heart I have not been disappointed in any way, I have loved every second of the game. I love the fact you can play the game as both Evie and Jacob, it is refreshing to be able to play as a female assassin this time round.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a visually stunning immersive open world action adventure game; this is the 9th major instalment of Assassin’s Creed, although you do not need to have played any of the previous games to enjoy Syndicate. Switch between the 2 protagonists utilising their individual key skills, to fulfil the requirement of completing a variety of historically based interactions and missions. Strengthen your gangs, develop your characters, and fight to free London of the grip of the Assassins arch enemy, the Templars.