Assassin's Creed: Syndicate Xbox One Review
London, 1868. The Industrial Revolution unleashes an incredible age of invention, transforming the lives of millions with technologies once thought impossible. Opportunities created during this time period have people rushing to London to engage in this new world. A world no longer controlled by kings, emperors, politicians or religion, but by a new common denominator: money.
Introducing Assassin Jacob Frye, who with the help of his twin sister Evie, will change the fate of millions in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Rise to rally and lead the underworld to break the corrupt stranglehold on London in a visceral adventure filled with action, intrigue and brutal combat.
The long running Assassin's Creed franchise has had ups, downs and a few more downs. There's no denying that the Buz crew threw their hands up in the air in frustration with Black Flag, the swashbuckling adventure which had an amazing story but forced you to take in all aspects of an enormous world that exploring at first was an immense privilege until you realised you'd be forced to do an insane amount of side The same thing happened in Unity and we didn't finish either of those games...
Now with Assassin's Creed: Syndicate we're treated to something that returns to the 'norm' for the franchise. A huge city, no high seas to explore, no insane sparse areas to traverse, just a living breathing cityscape with enough activity and life to make it feel special. Unity bragged about the number of people in crowds and those people ultimately ended up slowing everything down. Now the pace is reset and Syndicate delivers a London like we've never seen before. It's rough, it's ready and the streets run with blood.
Jacob and Evie are instantly loveable, one wants to change the world and the other wants to protect the creed. Two polar views but a bond that keeps them together through the good and the bad. Their fighting styles are also very different, Jacob is the brawler, built to last and when he's walking the streets and spots a rival gang member you don't feel any guilt when it comes to pulling out your gun and firing indiscriminately into the crowd. Evie however, glides along like a real assassin, her footsteps are light, her movement swift and her blades deadly.
But how does the game look? London 1868 is glorious, it's filth ridden, it's developing, it's broken... the world around you actually feels like it's alive and waiting to draw you in. The inhabitants range from well known historical figures to disposable NPC's and while the quests will take you around the city, it pays off to explore every aspect of the world around you when it comes to unlocking achievements.
The control system however is still not as smooth as it could be, we found ourselves struggling to get to grips with the camera which would have you leaping in the wrong direction or going up instead of down. It's insane until you get the newest piece of equipment which is basically a grappling hook which allows you to quick travel up the side of buildings or from ledge to ledge. At first we thought this new addition would make us lazy or the game too easy but it adds just the right amount of speed in order to stop the endless climbing from becoming a chore.
The story is where it's at though. For some time now we've been saying that UBISOFT need to stop and take note, take time out from the franchise, re-release an updated next gen version of the original games and while that's out there, work on an all-new kickass story that's not rushed, that's not on the shelves every November. Just take some time to breathe fresh-air into the world of Assassin's Creed once again.
In Syndicate the duality of the characters works in the games favour, their banter rocks but there's still something missing overall. While the games stories and characters intersect throughout the series in such a way that fans will go "Oh that guy..." or "OMG He's related to him?" it's really a story about the industrial revolution with a kick-ass set of characters thrown in for good measure. We need more depth, we need to be DRIVEN forward by a narrative that makes us care, that makes us want to push these characters forward. There were times when playing Jacob was a real joy but not because of the story but because of the characters violent nature, his ability and character animations made creating insane street brawls a dream. The story became second nature to becoming part of the city and the gang war that rules the streets of London.
It's a catch 22 but to make the player feel in real control is a triumph on UBISOFT's part and the side activities do not dictate your path or main story, clearing them makes things easier but you can move forward without them taking up all your time. A real balance has been struck and while it may feel like a return to the norm, something has to give to make the next Assassin's Creed a must buy to bring the fan base back to the heart of a franchise that deserves to be love.
We really liked what we saw and while the ending is weak and convoluted, the entire journey, the adventure is well worth 20+ hours of gameplay!
Next time PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE bring back stores and properties you can buy to make income, properties you can upgrade and of course a main hub that you choose to upgrade also. We used to love that! Skill trees are great but becoming an entrapreneur in London woulda been awesome!