From a young age, we Brits have always been taught how the Victorian era was an unpleasant age of smog, murder and child labour. A rough and unsettled time of disease and poverty, Victorian London was never painted to us in the prettiest of pictures. However, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the latest addition to the critically acclaimed Ubisoft series, presents late 19th century London in an ever so slightly more colourful painting.
Highlighting some of the nation’s greatest triumphs and prominent figures of the time, including Darwin, Dickens, Marx and the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate showcases Britain in a time of prosperity, peace and progression. A time of ingenuity, when almost anything was possible.
And on the topic of progression, Ubisoft have come leaps and bounds since their 2014 release,Assassin’s Creed Unity, which was criticised by some for the bugs and glitches that riddled its gameplay. Thankfully, the diehard fans have had their faith restored in the franchise with the solid and sturdy build that Syndicate offers.
Two new faces arrive in the Assassin’s Creed timeline in the form of rough and ready twins – Evie and Jacob Frye. With Evie taking a more focused, steady and collected approach to her missions, she is more favoured with the stealthy players, whereas Jacob, a more “Jason Statham-esque” character, punching first and asking questions later, offers a slightly more barbaric play type. The ability to switch between these two diverse and well-developed characters for each mission gives players a previously unfound element of freedom and choice. Arguably, it was unnecessary to feature two characters as both Evie and Jacob are likable enough to have had their own titles, yet their two different play styles do appeal to both types of players so there is room for each of them. Either way, the Frye twins have successfully settled themselves as two of the franchise’s most popular characters, alongside the likes of Blackbeard and Ezio.
The signature traversal system that makes the Assassin’s Creed series so unique makes a welcomed comeback. Victorian London during the Industrial Revolution has become the perfect parkour playground and leaping across the city’s chimney filled skyline feels natural and gives a refreshing change to snowy forests and Caribbean jungles. This new environment paired with the aforementioned solid and glitch-free build gives a similar experience to the first Assassin’s Creedgame, the one that captured so many of our hearts almost a decade ago.
With the implementation of roads into the bustling city, AC has more life on the street than ever before. Horse-drawn carriages offer a tense and nippy way to travel the city and offer an alternative from sprinting over roof tops and through back alleys of the slums. High-speed carriage chases through the streets often leave death and destruction in their wake and give players a burst of adrenaline and excitement.
What would an Assassin’s Creed title be without the gadgets? In the age of prosperity and some outlandish inventions, the gadgets and gizmos you’ll utilise during the playthrough have never been so varied. One such gadget bares similarities to Batman’s signature “Grapnel Gun” and in the same fashion, will propel the assassin’s to higher grounds in neck-breaking speeds. Although it offered a quick escape in some sticky situations, I was reluctant to use this handheld grapple gun as seeing the beautiful scenery disappear in the blink of an eye seemed a waste of the developer’s efforts.
Whilst wars still ravaged around the world, London in the late 1800’s was a fairly civilised place, for the better part at least. Unlike the more barbaric times seen in previous Assassin’s Creed games, the Victorian era was not known for people walking the cobbled streets with weapon in hand. Concealed weaponry had become a more prevalent feature in the modern society and also plays a large part in the combat systems of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Knuckledusters, compact pocket revolvers and cane swords can all be wielded throughout the game and with the ability to unlock and craft more weapons, each player will find a desired tool for every situation.
Totalling to nearly twenty five hours of gameplay, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has a hearty storyline and a myriad of interesting and diverse characters. Dropping multiplayer game modes, Ubisoft have seemed to shift focus once again to the core single player gameplay mechanics and storyline, ultimately leading to the redemption of many fan’s faith.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is only slightly short of being a masterpiece and is a pleasure to play. With more moving parts than any of the previous titles, two very likeable main characters, a well written and enjoyable storyline and of course an almost perfect build; my faith in the franchise is greater than ever. After some initial setbacks with Assassin’s Creed Unity, Ubisoft have more than made up for it with Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. It’s clear that the Assassin’s Creed series will be around for many years to come.