Assassin’s Creed is a lot like real-estate: it’s all about location. They’re selling us the same game with a different venue. But are there enough differences here to make Syndicate worthwhile?
Players find themselves in London at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution, playing as Evie and Jacob Frye, twin assassins on a mission to find a piece of Eden and free the oppressed working class. Evie is the first assassin in a while to actually act like an assassin. She’s tough yet calculating, fights with a badass cane, which reminds me of Daredevil whenever brawls occur in the rain, and uses great stealth mechanics. Jacob serves as a good balance to his sister, a charismatic brawler with smooth combos that are reminiscent of one of my favorite assassins, Ezio Auditore da Firenze.
The characters themselves are a great improvement from Unity’s protagonist, Arno Dorian, because they can actually balance being tough and witty. And I am glad that Ubisoft decided to make another playable female character without giving us the half-assed excuse that women are just too hard to render.
Character’s aside, Syndicate is an improvement over Unity in the graphics department. It comes with a better detailed open world, fewer but better quality NPCs roaming the streets of London and little to no glitches which had plagued Unity and hurt Ubisoft’s image. The game’s restriction on crowded areas and interiors helps Syndicate’s gameplay transition with smoother sequences and scenery, but it also makes the bustling city of London look like an abandoned playground half the time.
Like previous games in the franchise, you get to meet some historically important people, and one of my favorites in Syndicate is the father of communism, Karl Marx. What better way is there to help the working class than to team up with Marx, champion of the laborers and bane of the capitalists? Granted, you assassinate instead of enlighten, and despite your efforts to end child labor you end up paying children to work for you. But it’s justified because of Abstergo and the Templers or something. You can also get some bonus missions with Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin, but Marx is the better tie in to the game.
The signature weapon in Syndicate, which you probably already know, is the rope launcher, an innovative tool that allows the player to become a British Spider-man and bypass the game’s infamous parkour. Although it has its limitations, the rope launcher is a probably the best part of the game. Too often have I heard complaints of the excessive parkour in the Assassin’s Creed games, and, even though the movements are greatly improved from Unity, we now have a way to zip through London without having our fingers stuck on a single button.
Other than that, the gameplay is more or less the same from its predecessors: eagle vision is the same, the mastery of pressing one button at the right time makes you invincible, climbing up to the highest peaks unlocks areas, falling into hay from over 100-feet-high is safe, the bad guys are all red and Abstergo’s secret plan involving a piece of Eden or something. Oh, and Shaun is still British and sarcastic, which hasn’t gotten old.
Although it may just be another Assassin’s Creed game, Syndicate is entertaining enough with its characters and settings to enjoy for hours of gameplay.