Assassin’s Creed: Unity was widely regarded as one of the worst games in the franchise, which was disappointing since it came directly after Black Flag, which is considered by many to be the one of the best. Syndicate, the latest Assassin’s Creed game, is Ubisoft’s apology, bringing the series back to a better place and adding a lot of new content and features that are sure to please fans. Still, control issues and virtually no difficulty are once again a problem that will be sure to turn off those who had problems with many of these titles in the past.
Starting with the good things about the game, though, we have to talk about the atmosphere. Leaving Italy, America, and the Caribbean behind, Syndicate takes you to Victorian era London, a land of cobblestone streets and buildings shoved together like sardines, where alleyways are foggy and Jack the Ripper could be behind any corner. The industrial revolution is in full swing, and you’ll see billowing smokestacks and groups of homeless people alike as you race across the rooftops while helping people like Alexander Graham Bell and Karl Marx dream up the inventions and ideas that they’re known for today. It feels like the perfect setting for an Assassin’s Creed game, and it’s very easy to get immersed, especially because the modern day out-of-the-animus sections are virtually nonexistent.
This doesn’t hurt the story, though. In Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, you take control of Jacob and Evie Frye, a pair of twin assassins who are ready to take down their Templar enemies while helping their fellow Londonites through this tumultuous time. Both characters are almost instantly likable, and you’ll enjoy learning their quirks and differences as you play through one of the best narratives in the franchise. There are a few pacing issues throughout the story, but it’s a fun ride nonetheless.
The twins’ differences translates to gameplay, as well. Evie is the stealth character who you will use for reconnaissance and infiltration, while Jacob is all about brawling. This gives you multiple paths to attack each mission and always keeps things fresh. Of course, the Assassin’s Creed gameplay has never been lauded for its challenge, and that’s because there is no challenge. One button handles free running while two or three other buttons are all you’ll need for combat, which quickly gets boring for those who like a little difficulty in their games.
The most frustrating thing is that even though the controls are so simple, they’re constantly causing you to do things you didn’t mean to do. Since the game is fairly forgiving, it’s more of an annoyance than a constant “reload checkpoint” situation, but it can take you out of the game quickly and often. Since it’s a very immersive atmosphere and story, these hiccups grow pretty annoying after awhile.
However, there are enough new features though that still make this a game worth trying if you’ve been a fan of Assassin’s Creed in the past. A grappling hook feels right at home with the movement and combat, allowing you to quickly enter and exit a fight, make your way to far off rooftops, and generally stay in motion the entire time. Since the grappling hook attaches to almost any surface, you’ll feel like a weird hybrid assassin/Spider-man at times, but that’s really not a bad thing. You’ll also get to drive carriages and get access to new weapons like electric grenades and hypnosis darts, which cause your enemies to turn on each other.
All in all, this is a solid return to form for Assassin’s Creed, and if you’ve been a fan of the series in the past then you will probably like this one. As long as you don’t expect it to pose any sort of challenge and are prepared for the occasional control problem, you’ll have a great time.