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Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (PS4) Review

 
AC Syndicate header image
AC Syndicate header image
AC Syndicate header image

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
7.5
7.5/ 10


User Rating
4 total ratings

 

We Liked?


  • Wonderfully realised world - Industrial Revolution London is a stunning setting
  • New approach to territories and gangs helps add something more to the usual mission roster
  • Some good missions and fun to be had
  • They finally got the hint about follow and eavesdrop missions!

Not So Much?


  • Repetitive combat
  • No real engagement with the protagonists of the tale
  • Controls are a little imprecise at times
  • Series is in desperate need of rethinking how it delivers it's core mechanics as they're seeming older and staler with each iteration


Final Fiendish Findings?

Another year, another Assassin’s Creed title hits store shelves and to be honest, apart from the blip that was the pleasantly surprising Black Flag, this has been a series of diminishing returns since Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

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Posted November 10, 2015 by

 
Final Fiendish Findings?
 
 
A

nother year, another Assassin’s Creed title hits store shelves and to be honest, apart from the blip that was the pleasantly surprising Black Flag, this has been a series of diminishing returns since Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

Last years Assassin’s Creed: Unity was promising in theory but in execution is suffered a multitude of woes both in the technical aspects (who can forget some of the embarrassing images of people without faces etc) and in the execution. Assassin’s Creed had become stale with terrible follow and eavesdropping missions littering the overly populated maps.

Enter Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, this year’s entry in the franchise. Here we follow two main characters, twins named Evie and Jacob Frye. Each offers a slightly different perspective on the events of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. With Evie being the more devoted follower of the assassin’s creed, devoting herself to locating the missing pieces of Eden. Jacob, however, is more the rebellious pragmatist. He’s more interested in driving the Templars from the city and helping his gang, The Rooks, take back the London boroughs one by one.

Syndicate_AC

As in the previous titles in the series the game flows by using a reasonably proficient parkour system. Freerunning with the trigger button skips and jumps you around the place whilst different buttons control your vertical movements – ie one for up and one for down. The system isn’t perfect, you often dumbly run up walls, fail to enter windows or miss a jump by miles but it’s the slickest it’s ever been. A handy grapnel-gun comes into play after the first hour or two and that improves traversal immensely.

Combat, usually a case of whacking the attack button and letting your sword to the talking, has been refined to a point. Now there’s a reasonably well executed close-combat system allowing for a more involved feeling in the combat. That said it still pretty much devolves to a counter, then attack, pattern and only large groups will cause you troubles.

Over the course of the roughly 20 hours worth of campaign you will go on several missions with both Evie and Jacob. Thankfully this structure has been shaken up a little – especially as Evie is more about stealth and Jacob about attack. Mercifully the scores of following and eavesdropping missions that would litter these games have been dropped in favour of a more varied approach. Some of these work well, some can be a little frustrating. The frustration mostly comes from the horse and cart levels as the carts can feel more than a little unwieldy. You’re sometimes also expected to achieve too much with the limitations the vehicles impose.

Borough Boss fight AC Syndicate

As well as the main story missions you can undertake several side mission types too. For example freeing children from their taskmasters who keep them working in impoverished conditions in the workhouses of London. There are also tasks to clear out enemy strongholds held by the local thugs, the Blighters. There’s also the obligatory viewpoints to locate and scale to unlock further side quests as well as a smattering of other types.

All this might seem like a minor departure, if that, with hints of familiarity and you’d be correct. What’s new then? Well Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate re-introduces the idea of territories and gathering a gang to take them on. Similar in some ways to the previous games (especially Brotherhood) where you take out strongholds, here you slowly take over small areas of a larger district by doing main and side missions. As you whittle down the opposition the local district boss becomes weakened to a state where he has no choice but to fight you. You then battle for control of the territory – winning results in you freeing that area from enemy control.

If this all sounds a little familiar then you’d be reassured to know that one of the game directors from recent Saints Row titles moved over to Ubisoft to head up Syndicate – and it shows in this approach.

AC Syndicate Cart Jump

It’s a welcome change and an engaging enough distraction. You can also recruit members of your gang that happen to be out on the street by using RB. Then direct them to attack a certain target for you. A great way of evening the numbers when you have to take on a large crowd or a good way to create a diversion whilst you sneak around.

Looks wise the game looks good, but possibly not as good as last years title. What it does have though is a much more solid framerate and only some minor issues and glitches. So perhaps they scaled back some of the sheen to make sure last years issues would not return to haunt them.

That said the game does a sterling job of recreating London at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Certain iconic landmarks are all in place and the thrill of scaling Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament of St Paul’s Cathedral is fairly exhilarating. Oh and swimming in the bustling green waters of the Thames offers some satisfaction too!

What the game does suffer from though is a lack of engagement. I felt that Jacob was a character I really could not warm too. Evie was more likeable but there just seemed to be a barrier between the character and the player that I couldn’t penetrate. Their story is reasonable enough, if not overly compelling. The side-missions, featuring some noteable UK personalities of the times like Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale, are diverting enough, just nothing to write home about most of the time.

AGBell - AC Syndicate

As with other Assassin’s Creed titles combat gets repetitive after many hours of play leaving you feeling more like you’re drudging through each battle rather than relishing the engagement. Whilst we use the word drudging, travelling the incredibly well crafted streets of virtual London is a pain on foot. Even traversing the buildings with the grapnel-gun it’s a slow going process. This forces you to use the imprecise carts to get around town or the immersion-bending fast travel system. Neither are ideal solutions really.

Final Thoughts

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is a solid improvement over last year’s effort, both technically and gameplay wise. Some interesting new mechanics, an attempt to rid the series of some of the missions that frustrate and a gloriously represented London all go a long way to helping make this one of the better games in the series’ recent history.

That said Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate isn’t without issues and the series has, by all accounts, started to overstay its welcome in its current format. Change is needed here and it’s more radical than borrowing some tricks from Saints Row. This is a series desperately in need of a creative adrenaline shot.

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is more of the same, with tweaks to ease the pain. It delivers a reasonable story and fans of the series will at least be grateful of a pain-free experience this time around.

The product under review was provided by the creator, manufacturer, publisher or their PR representative free of charge and without caveat. Please see our site review policy for more information.

Family Fiends Findings?

  • Rated Mature by the ESRB & 18 by PEGI
  • Graphic and bloody violence – murder through bladed and blunt weaponry
  • Drug References
  • Bad language (F*** and S*** are uttered)

Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.