- + Skill point upgrade system allows for more engaging progression
- + London offer a vast and sprawling environment, yet again
- + Evie and Jacob are a likeable pair
- - No multiplayer aspect feels like a missed opportunity
- - Still buggy at points
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
Start Replay: “Refined Assassination”
For several years Assassin’s Creed has continued to grace the festive season, and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing. After technical trouble plagued 2014’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity, concern quickly grew toward the future of the series. I began to wonder how long it might take until entering the Animus would begin to lose its appeal.
To my relief, Syndicate manages to recapture the fun I had felt in earlier entries of the series, providing another vibrant open-world to explore.
Based in London during the late 1800s you take lead as twins, Evie and Jacob Frye. Raised as assassins from a young age the pair set off to London in a bid to find any remaining pieces of Eden and take down the Templars controlling each district. If you haven’t played the series before then the story might be a bit hard to digest, but fortunately the gameplay is so good that it won’t matter. Patrolling the streets and diving deep into London’s seedy criminal network offers plenty to do.
The introduction of two playable characters and their own personal skill tree means variation is always at the forefront of your experience. Whether you’re performing hand-to-hand combat or deploying sneakier tactics, skill points can be attributed to advance a certain path of gameplay. Making less noise when you walk and looting enemies automatically will ensure that you can be quick and precise. Alternatively, upgrading your fighting skills first will benefit any confrontation with pesky gang members.
Whilst dealing out justice through any way you see fit, traversing London’s enormous map offers a myriad of possibilities. Free-running is integral, as always, though small refinements to control and the addition of extra gadgets smoothens the process.
If you’ve ever wanted to skip past climbing up ledges, firing off the new grapple hook will have you scrambling across rooftops in next to no time. One click and you can hook onto selected building points, just like Batman in Rocksteady’s Arkham series.
Horse and carriage offers a new approach to navigating streets, and funnily enough mowing down the public doesn’t lead to desynchronisation, which is funny when you consider assassinating too many civilians in previous titles would mean having to restart. At times you might find trotting across its huge map a bit of a chore, but luckily a fast travel point in the form of a train is available. Ridding each district of enemies will allow the train to cover a large area.
With all that in mind, standing still and soaking in the atmosphere is just as enjoyable. Just walk around and you’ll become engrossed within the city’s lively population. Head to the Thames and stare at the multiplex of cargo boats weaving in amongst one another. It’s quite a sight to behold, and even more impressive when you attempt to loot them and jump across each vessel.
As opposed to more recent entries in the series, multiplayer doesn’t make an appearance in Syndicate. It’s a brave move by developer Ubisoft, who has always attempted to shoehorn online connectivity into its games. However, it would have been nice to take the Frye twins online with the help of a friend.
There’s no denying Syndicate’s beauty, but there’s definitely one or two aspects that still bug me, sometimes quite literally. When overlooking the city from atop Big Ben, for instance, it’s clear that a thin layer of fog encapsulates everything in sight. The fact it’s set during the industrial revolution can lend credence to this haze, but it’s still upsetting to see. The game is nowhere near as buggy when compared to Unity, but there’s still a fair amount of A.I problems whilst operating in a hectic crowd.
Syndicate is a major improvement over Unity, plus the ability to have a finer amount of control of your play style and character progression, helps gameplay become a little more personal.
*Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate was provided to Start Replay on PS4 by Ubisoft