Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – the franchise that just won’t quit. For some reason, I feel like I have said that before. I was extremely hesitant to play this game. The last Assassin’s Creed game I played was Black Flag and I wasn’t the biggest fan of it; so I was skeptical of Syndicate to say the least. If you haven’t already, check out the Black Flag review here. So, like approaching a drunken fat chick at a bar, I proceeded with caution. Let’s see how it held up.
Blue Ball Score: 19 out of 25 balls
The mechanics of this game felt similar to the first few games in the Assassin Creed franchise, but with a few improvements and tweaks. Let’s start off with the controls. The controls were pretty typical of any Assassin’s Creed game. Running, wall climbing, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, it was all there. The fundamental aspects of being an Assassin was present. One thing to note is that the combat seemed much more difficult than the other games before it. Perhaps this is a good thing because it forces gamers to play the game as it was meant to be played. But, it seemed Ubisoft went a little overboard emphasizing this point.
What about the overall feel of the game? Was it just another Assassin’s Creed game? Nope. Now, keep in mind, I did not play Unity so I may mention some “new” things that aren’t brand new. Moving on, the first thing I noticed was the addition of a grappling hook. Your assassin can now create zip lines and move from rooftop to rooftop much more quickly. This helps out a ton when you are trying to escape a horde of enemies that have the speed and agility of Flash himself. The second thing I noticed was the ability to quickly scale DOWN buildings. Sure, it is easy to scale up buildings, but we all remember getting down could be tricky. You had to be really careful or your character may go full ‘tard mode and just jump off the top of the Coliseum with no f#@%$ given. This was much appreciated because nothing was more frustrating than being at the end of a 3-hour mission and falling to your death only to realize you gotta do it all over again. Yes – it is the game’s fault.
Ok, so it has a few improvements. Who cares? Where does the game take place? Funny you should ask Jim! The game takes place in London around the year 1868. Your mission(s) is to take back London and search for another Piece of Eden. Will you get to it before the Templars do? Time (and a few bucks) will tell.
As you can see the gameplay was pretty typical of any Assassin’s Creed game, but with a few improvements and features. There were a few glitches in the game that I noticed while playing through it, but overall it was solid. For the reasons outlined above, I give this a 4/5 balls.
Let’s start off by discussing the old. As with any Assassin’s Creed game, there was much to do in the campaign, including: plentiful side missions, spur of the moment “community” events, a “legendary” armor that you can unlock, various collectibles and trinkets to obtain, and much, much more. It was all there.
OK, so it’s a typical Assassin’s Creed game. What’s new? Why should I buy it? One addition to the game was a dual protagonist approach. You don’t play as a single character. You can play as one of the Frye twins (Jacob or Evie). Not only can you play as one, but you can switch between them in-game! And, most importantly, they aren’t the same character archetypes. Evie is more of the stereotypical Assassin with stealth and focus on the main objective (retrieving the Piece of Eden). On the other hand, Jacob is more of the brute. He starts off using Brass Knuckles if that tells you anything… Jacob is more concerned with taking London back from those damn Templars and makes fun of Evie’s obsession with the Piece of Eden. He isn’t a true believer in the power of the Piece of Eden. But, does that change? Unfortunately, no spoilers here.
Storyline? Plot? How does it all tie in? At this point, I believe all Assassin Creed(ers) have given up on a sequential storyline that is all connected together. With the release of so many games, and some connect while some are more standalone games, a consistent storyline has been an impossible task. But, within Syndicate itself, the plot is really interesting and good. The sharp contrast between Evie and Jacob adds some twists and minor conflict along the way. Your objective is simple and clear throughout the entire game: Find the Piece of Eden and take back England. Ubisoft found ways to integrate Jacob’s obsession with taking back England into discovering the Piece of Eden throughout the game. Kudos.
Overall, the campaign was extremely good to say the least. The foundation of all Creed games was strongly present (and improved), the dual protagonists, and a consistent/solid plot. The only thing I yearn for is a consistent plot that builds from one game to the other and ultimately leads to a conclusion. What is the conclusion here? 4/5 balls.
Instead of the Online Experience, let’s talk about the customization and upgrading system. Syndicate has, yet again, improved their upgrading system. As stated previously, there are two main characters – Evie and Jacob. Each one of these characters are upgraded separately. For the most part, the types of upgrades are the same for each character. In other words, you can increase health for both Evie and Jacob, but buying it for Evie doesn’t buy it and apply it for Jacob. This allowed you to specialize them a bit differently. Perhaps you upgraded Jacob to be a non-stealthy, ruthless, and brutal OJ Simpson-like character. Or maybe you upgraded Evie to be stealthier than a, well, stealth bomber. The choice is yours.
Customizations? Oh good golly gosh. There was plenty to customize, but not so much that it was ridiculous and overwhelming. Each customization even had its own perks and down sides. A new outfit could mean a stealth boost. Or maybe a new outfit meant a defense boost. Also, the game includes your “gang.” In the past games, you could buy and upgrade buildings to make money or you could upgrade “recruits.” Well, Syndicate is a happy middle ground of those two. You do have the ability to increase revenue, but you also upgrade your gang/recruits as a whole. There are a ton of ways to upgrade your gang and the game leaves it 100% up to you on how want to approach it. Maybe you just wanna make bank? Or maybe you want to build an army for Templar Assaults? Do whatever you please. Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.
One thing to note is you can also craft items. You can gather schematics and craft weapons, outfits, armor, belt upgrades to carry more items, and much more.
If you can’t see that I am excited, then here you go… 5/5 balls.
The graphics were stunning. The attention to detail was crisp. Character movements were on par. The AI wigged out sometimes and I have seen carriages fly across the screen from time to time, but as a whole, the graphics were consistently beautiful. Also, a special note, the rendering of these graphics as you are racing across the city is stunning. However they render the graphics is nothing short of extraordinary.
Audio? It is no Ezio or Altair, but the audio is always good. I have yet to play an Assassin Creed where the audio is bad. The English accents were authentic and there was even an Irish (or Scottish. It is hard to tell…) accent in the game. The tone and intensity of the narration was accurate at any given point given the situation. If you were in a silent place, your character would whisper. If it was an intense battle, screaming was prominent. The sound effects were also on point. From the carriages hitting one another, to the sound of a gun firing, to the sound of Evie zip lining down from Big Ben.
Perfecto! 5/5 balls.
As a personal fan of this franchise (in case you couldn’t tell), I have played *most* of Assassin Creed games. One thing I have always found intriguing is the secondary story that takes place outside the Animus. What do we all think of when we think about this? Desmond “mother-f*&@@~!$%” Miles. God I miss that guy!
This secondary story seemed to get worse and worse as the series went on. Especially after Desmond died. Ubisoft didn’t really conclude or expand on this secondary story. Gamers were sort of left dazed, confused, scared, and depressed.
With Syndicate, Ubisoft nearly did away with this story. There are times throughout the campaign where a cut scene will occur outside the Animus and you can gather the bare minimum on what is going on, but it isn’t enough. It is just enough to really piss you off and leave you angry. I always looked forward to learning more about how Templars are working in modern-day times and what their current plans are. How do they plan to achieve their goals? Yes, I enjoy a good conspiracy theory. So what? Get over it. I’m sorry.
Due to the lack of a real in-depth secondary story, I give this a measly 1/5 balls.
In conclusion, Syndicate was a solid game. If I had to describe it in one sentence, it would be: Ubisoft returned to their roots and did what they do best. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate focused on improving their campaign, making their campaign the best it can be, taking out multiplayer (hopefully to make a comeback and actually be worth playing), and just making a really good game. One can only theorize that they are re-laying the foundations for the next wave of games to build on. Hopefully, the secondary story returns and Ubisoft can develop an even more fleshed out game and story line. All of these reasons lead to a grand total of 19/25 balls.