I think I can’t consider myself the biggest Asscreed fan out there. I think I’ve skipped half of the games of the franchise, but at the same time, that means I played the other half and they’re not a just couple.
The original, the second one, liberation and black flag were the games I played before this one. And how would Syndicate compare to them? Read this to find out.
I don’t think I have to explain what Syndicate is since it follows pretty much the same formula of the other Assassin’s Creed games. In this case you’ll be playing in a victorian london setting but the game itself is the same open world third person action adventure romp with stealth mechanics and a very stremlined platforming portion. So, instead of going into unnecessary details about that, I’ll just tell you about the most important new stuff you’ll find on this one.
Conquer territory: Ubisoft went a little GTA San Andreas on us introducing this mechanic. The game revolves a lot around gang cultures of that late 19th century london. The map is divided into districts and those are divided into other pieces that you will conquer by completing an activity. Liberating kids from forced labor, killing templars, kidnapping guys, taking over rival strongholds.
Vehicular gameplay: It’s the late 19th century and London is quite big so, in order to move around you could go parkour-ing the city’s rooftops like we always did in Assassin’s Creed but the quickest way to move around now is actually hijacking a carriage and riding it to your destination.
Grappling Hook: London streets are wide and the buildings are quite high so the game provides you with a new gadget. A grappling hook you can use to instantly climb any building and that also lets you zipline from rooftop to rooftop across those wide streets. Very useful indeed.
Two protagonists: You won’t be controlling one but two assassin’s this time around, the Frye brothers. Jacob is more of impulsive and cocky while Evie is more thoughful and mature, that also translates to the gameplay as she is more stealth oriented while Jacob has more of a brawler build.
Story-wise the game doesn’t break any molds. It’s still about the long battle among the assassins and the templars. This time around, the two factions are behind a very powerful relic, the shroud of eden. The best part is that in their quest to find that ancient artifact the protagonists will get involved in various social and political affairs related to the era they’re living in. I found it to be a quite an intriguing game for that matter and the characters you’ll be encountering are quite interesting as well.
On a visual stand point the game is a joy. The recreation of this victorian london is just superb. I’m not an historian to know how faithful that was to the actual 19th century england but the locations to feel very lively and detailed and I’d dare to say that it rivals with Rockstar’s GTAV on how realistic the city feels.
Character models are also quite well realised while obviously the normal townsfolk is less detailed.
On a purely technical level, the game looks gorgeous but it can’t deliver a completely smooth framerate. It has some noticeable drops specially during the most intense carriage chases but those aren’t that common and it never becomes too bothersome anyway.
Things I liked
- Well crafted missions: I had a great time with AC IV Black flag but the game main missions were pretty repetitive, it often asked you to follow a guy stealthy for him to reveal a location, then you had to go there and kill some random guy. It felt very formulaic. They clearly put more thought when designing the missions for Syndicate, they’re more complex and varied.
- Non-linear approach: On the execution missions the game will straight up spew you a couple ways you can accomplish the same objective and having options is always cool. But it’s actually better than that, in most activities there’s always multiple ways to achieve your goal. Say you want to kidnapp a guy to take him to the authorities. You could enter his place guns blazing and kill everyone or be stealthy and take his guards one by one but… why not scare him out of his hideout and take him when he runs away alone? You have the choice.
- Great setting: The victorian setting it’s one that I’ve always found interesting and in this game is executed very well. The architecture, the population… the city looks, sounds and feels real.
Things I didn’t
- Unreliable controls: Sadly this has become some sort of staple of the franchise. You’ll encounter plenty of instances when you’ll want your character to perform a certain action and they’ll just do something else. You’ll want them to jump from this ledge to another one but they’ll land on a completely different one, you’ll try to grab an enemy from behind and your character will pick a corpse from the ground instead… too many actions for too little buttons I guess.
- Too much kidnapping: There is this new mechanic they introduced for the game. You can walk behind an unsuspecting enemy and kidnapp him. Coercing him/her into walking with you for a number of advantages. The mechanic works pretty well, but they overdid it a little, appearing on too many missions and that ends up being repetitive.
Who’d like this?
I’d recommend the game to anyone who likes the series since I found this to be actually my new favourite of all the Assassin’s Creed games. The missions are more open and fun and the victorian city is a delight to play in.
If you never liked the AC games this probably won’t be different enough to make you change your mind.
<This game is available on ps4 and other platforms>