Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review - on PlayStation 4
So, I have had the opportunity to review the latest instalment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise; Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. The last AC I played myself was Black Flag on the Xbox One. This time round I am hands on with Syndicate on the PlayStation 4. I think it goes without saying, Syndicate has a lot to live up to with the success of the franchise’s predecessors. On a personal note, I am relieved to see a top AAA title set in my country of residencies’ capital - London.
As is typical with the AC franchise you’re instantly immersed into a world of historic relevance. This time round; it’s the dreary world of the industrial revolution set in the streets of London, England during the 1860’s. Immediately you can see the finer details of the factory smog filed city. You play two characters: the Frye twins - Jacob and Evie. Jacob is a more hands-on, aggressive character, whilst Evie prefers the stealth approach. Both of your characters rewards are combined into one. As such you need to be careful how you spend your pounds and XP as you'll need to purchase each item and upgrade twice - one per character.
After completing a couple of break-in missions in the ‘charming’ town of Croydon you are thrown into the midst of the capital. It is at this point you’ll notice that the expansive world of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is nothing short of beautiful. You’ll get the opportunity to visit so many famous landmarks whilst travelling around the districts (White Chapel, The Strand, The Thames and Westminster) of London. A few of those famous landmarks being: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Waterloo train station and London Bridge.
So; with The Templars in charge of London, it's the job of Jacob and Evie to take it back. Thankfully the Frye twins both have the helping hand of Henry Green to assist them; London’s only surviving assassin.
Whilst out and about completing missions throughout the capital, you’ll come across some pretty iconic historical figures - Charles Dickens and Alexander Graham Bell are just a couple of the early acquaintances you’ll meet. Be sure to pay these acquaintances regular visits, as they help with the progression of Jacob and Evie.
When exploring the city, you can see the change in poverty. This transitions from the well-dressed folk of Westminster - to the Oliver Twist likeness of the little, thieving, cockney kids.
In terms of navigating the vast open world, Syndicate mixes things up significantly. Shortly into the game you're issued with a grappling hook, which you can shoot from your gauntlet - this really adds to your free-climbing ability. Another plus side to the grapple feature, Is when you're in a combat situation and “The Blighters” are getting the upper hand - you can fire your grapple and hoist yourself out of danger. The only issue I have with this is; when you're running and climbing around the city, above your head there is an “L1” instruction at the top of the screen letting you know when your grapple is available.
The second means of travelling is the good old horse and carriage. You can jump in the back of these and go for a ride to wherever the driver takes you. The other option is to take the reins yourself. You can either jump on an unoccupied carriage or hijack one passing by. Once on board and in the driver’s seat, this is where the fun begins. You can travel at a fairly fast pace, smash into other carriages and when being chased - ram your pursuers off the cobbled roads; whilst ripping up the city of course.
In terms of action and combat the game is very fast paced and can be a little repetitive, but this is more an issue with the genre than the game itself. With that being said if Jacob and Evie’s combat skills are supposed to differ, the game does a poor job of distinguishing between the two. You build the exact same skill sets throughout. Another frustration relates to the over eager nature of the police; they have a bit of a habit of getting unnecessarily involved in street battles and this just leads to an unlawful demise (on their part, of course!).
To assist Jacob and Evie on their quest to take back London and topple the Templars it is up to the Frye twins to recruit their own gang of Rooks and develop them into hard hitting allies. Make sure you keep an eye on upgrading your gang because as you progress through the game, your enemies become much stronger and you will need support!
All-In-all Syndicate is a solid fast paced open sandbox. You will likely develop a stronger affinity with one of the twins and stick with them throughout, my personal favourite was Evie. It has to be said the way London has been captured is absolutely wonderful. As always with AC, there is plenty to do to keep you busy. Personally myself, I don’t like to rush through games and like to explore and take on the side mission. Sometimes even more so than following the actual main story. The fast paced combat and fluidity really compliment the game - albeit the fights can be a little tedious. As I never played Unity - I can’t really compare, but judging from the reviews it received, Syndicate knocks it out the park. That said, I was a huge fan of Black Flag and sadly Syndicate fails to reach the dizzying heights of its pirate predecessor. But do not let that comparison put you off - for any fan of the franchise Assassins Creed: Syndicate is a huge step back in the right direction.
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