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1st December 2015

Review: Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

Travel back in time to Victorian London in this year’s Assassin’s Creed game. Does it stand tall when compared to its predecessor? Find out in our review!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see London from the top of Nelson’s Column? It’s fair to say that I hadn’t considered it… until Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate came out. With the newest addition to the Ubisoft franchise set in London, it’s on home turf for a lot of fans. Underneath this Victorian façade, however, is still the same Assassin’s Creed that we are used to, with the standard plethora of assassination missions, tailing missions and stunning viewpoints.

The game follows on from that of Unity, with the storyline of the Initiate. Many may argue that the present day story became a little thin after the events that occurred in AC3. But in my opinion, I feel that it is an interesting take on the story because it shows the process of becoming an Assassin. And, with certain characters making a reappearance, it paves the way for much more interesting developments in future instalments.

To deviate from partner characters, Ubisoft decided to include the Associates, a group of allies for whom you complete missions, rewarding you with loyalty to that Associate as well as weapons, upgrades and outfits. Unlike the historical figures used in earlier games, Associates in this game are fictional characters who all relate to Victorian London in some way. A child mastermind, a transport mogul and the sergeant of Scotland Yard are just some of your allies in this game. Child factory liberations, cargo hijacks, and bounty hunts are the respective missions for each of the Associates listed, and completing each will give you reputation with that Associate, which in turn will give you weapons that will help with the progression of the campaign, or in just running around and killing people.

Photo: Ubisoft Entertainment S.A.

The main additions to this game are the Twins: Jacob and Evie Frye. In a new venture, Ubisoft have opted to have two separate protagonists. They may be twins, but cannot be more different from each other. Jacob, the leader of the Rooks, prefers to use his fists to solve problems, whereas Evie takes the more stealthy approach. In the events of the game, they pursue two different objectives, which do sometimes clash. Both paths can only be completed by the relevant Assassin; Templar assassinations for Jacob, whilst Evie goes about searching for the precursor artefacts, a.k.a. the pieces of Eden. To aid in character development, and to help with the missions, there are two separate skill trees for each of the twins. One can be levelled faster than the other since free roam allows an instant change from one to the other, not constraining you to a single character. Progression through the game will grant you skill points, which can be spent on making Evie stealthier (so much so that she becomes invisible when stationary), or making it so that Jacob takes a mere sliver of damage from a full-on attack. However, you may find that whatever your play style, both characters level very quickly, and can both be fully leveled even before finishing the campaign.

As good as all this sounds, it’s hard to not mention the hot water that Ubisoft have been in for the past few years. It started with the introduction of time-saving micro-transactions in Assassin’s Creed 3, and the problems have carried on all the way to last year’s instalment of the franchise, Assassin’s Creed: Unity. The game didn’t have the smoothest launch with a lot, and I mean a lot, of people reporting game-affecting bugs. Missing graphics, unusual NPC behaviour, lost missions. The game wasn’t as polished as previous versions, and resulted in the release of many patches. Too many to keep track of and they weren’t always a good solution.

While one problem might have been fixed, another rose in its place due to the patch. This went on for a while, until in the end, it seemed as if Ubisoft might have benefited from delaying the game a few weeks to try to iron things out. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is a much better game in terms of launch, gameplay and amount of bugs. Having played the game for a while now, it is a much smoother experience, with very few glitches occurring. If glitches were to occur, it would be more to do with the NPCs bugging out and minor things with the protagonists. NPCs decide to hover; weapons are hovering from the positions they were in after a big fight, and most recently, Evie stayed invisible for the last part of one mission. But these are minor and are fixed very easily by just walking away. It seems Ubisoft learnt from their mistakes and decided to ship a game that can be played with little graphical frustration.

Photo: Ubisoft Entertainment S.A.

With all AAA games, the whole game isn’t shipped. DLC is one of the things that makes Assassin’s Creed what it is. There are a whole host of missions that are linked to the season pass, pre-order bonuses, or available with the special editions. This is where the famous people are introduced. Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin are just two of the characters that can only be interacted with when the DLC has been obtained. Queen Victoria makes an appearance in the base game, however, she does so only for four missions. The Dickens and Darwin DLC gives an extra 15 or so between the two of them. The timing may be slightly out, and their motives questionable, but it’s all in the nature of the game to make everything about the fight between Assassins and Templars. Who cares though, it’s all in the name of fun, and by Jove, is it fun! I mean, who wouldn’t want to go ghost-hunting with Charles Dickens. Currently, I do not have the season pass, so cannot comment on the missions from a personal experience, but from trailers and other gameplay (I’ve been trying to stay away to avoid spoilers), it does look like a worthy expansion to the London scene.

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is just that. An Assassin’s Creed game. There is no fancy multiplayer factor to it, no extra application for mobile devices, and is very simple to get your head around. It is basically a modern version of Assassin’s Creed 2. Ubisoft have partly redeemed themselves with this instalment, and it makes a very good addition to the arsenal of Assassin’s Creed games that Ubisoft have produced. If you are a fan of the series, go out and buy it. It is not a game to miss, and who knows, maybe playing this may prompt you to play the previous ones that you may have missed. If you are new to the series, it is not a bad place to start, and again, it may push you to play the older games in a chronological order. Regardless of what rank of Assassin you are, go out and buy it.

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