Ubisoft for every Assassin’s Creed game. Starting from the Holy Land (Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus) in Assassin’s Creed I, to the forthcoming country of Egypt in Assassin’s Creed Empire [Rumor], Ubisoft has always managed to mesmerize their fans by the jaw dropping open world sprawling environment that stretches for miles. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the ninth major installment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, introduces quite a few novelties in its gameplay, character and environment set up, but lacks in some ways to hold together a solid story.   Traversing the streets and waters, and showcase of rich heritage of 19th century Victorian era London, are few things to cherish after having played through Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. The striking environment set up has always been the trademark of
After the end of Desmond Miles story in Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft has been releasing Assassin’s Creed games based on important historical events and happenings. Likewise Unity, which was set in 1789 Paris during the French Revolution, Syndicate takes place during the Industrial Revolution in London 1868, and includes essential memories from famous historical characters. What sets this game apart from any of its predecessors, is the introduction of playable twin assassin characters, Jacob and Evie Frye (also known as the Frye twins). Ubisoft did a commendable job in meticulously bringing out the personality distinction between the brother and sister, which was one of the most interesting attributes of the game throughout.
The twins were mainly occupied with the task of liberating the city of London from the hands of evil Templars who terrorized the entire city with their atrocities. In their efforts, they were assisted by the great honorable personalities; Alexander Graham Bell, Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx and Queen Victoria, that London has ever seen. The inclusion of these historical figures is again a tradition of Ubisoft that it has been following for most of the Assassin Creed games (One cannot forget Da Vinci and his flying machine from Assassin’s Creed II). Though, all these novelties seemed quite engrossing at the start of the game, but eventually I felt they are a bit dragged on after the halfway mark of the game.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, for the first time, allows players to take control of two playable characters in the game (most importantly a female character, after all the series’ controversy). Both Jacob and Evie possess different sets of characteristics, and players can switch between the two characters. The main missions are character specific, with Jacob being the more dominant character. This was a bit vexing, as I would have liked more missions featuring both of them together. I personally liked the sister-brother relationship of Evie and Jacob, yet they are no Ezio, Edward or Altair. They are more like modern day real people, who are not only skilled, but also possess humor, anger, love, affection and exhibits frequent immature sibling contentions. Syndicate offers a combat system that is highly revamped and responsive. But, I liked the combat in Unity more as it was more realistic. This time, Ubisoft has introduced combat multipliers, multi kills and stunning cinematic finishers. Making a long story short, Syndicate is more like the conventional Batman, where the latter is much more organized.
“The Combat System”
- If compared with Unity, Syndicate has a better responsive and flexible combat system. But, in most of the places, the attacks felt like being too fast that makes it pretty unrealistic.
- The introduction of double, triple, quad multi kills and acrobatic finishers makes the game more stylish. The combo multiplier rises with every continuous move and can bring enemies to near death situations quicker.
- Sandbox style assassinations are the trademark of every Assassin Creed game. Air, Stealth, Double, Ledge assassinations are retained, whereas, assassination using the Rope Launcher is a new add-on to the game.
- Counter attacks are improved with counter-shoots and bullet dodge. Weapon toss (usually with kukri or knife) is performed as part of cinematic kills during a finisher. Old school chain kills and disarming is absent.
Syndicate offers lots of new tools, gadgets and entire set of new weapons. One of the most hyped tool is the introduction of the Rope Launcher (or Grappling Hook), which again can be thought of as a rip-off of the Grapel Gun in Arkham games. It is fun to use, and made life real easy to climb towers and traverse through the city. But was there a real need to make the parkour easy? The game also includes missions where Evie needs her Eagle Vision to solve puzzles, much more like the Batman’s detective mode or the Witcher’s Sense. Syndicate involves a number of major sequences where the player needs to deal with important Templar assassinations. Those missions are nicely designed with players having the luxury to make use of available opportunities- Stealth, Unique kill and Assistance. One can get to kidnap, steal or knock out enemies to complete their objective. The game also incorporates numerous side missions and gang wars to rid the city streets of London from the Blighters (as they call), but they became monotonous as the game progresses. These side missions helps the twins to build up their own so called gang ‘Rooks’, who can be used for various assists. Not to forget, the memories from the famous historical characters, who plays a special part in the game. One can simply go for a ghost hunt with Charles Dickens, help Karl Marx restoring the rights of Labour Organization, or assist Charles Darwin in unearthing the conspiracy against his ideas that is thickening the air in London. Crowd events like catch the thief, scare away the bullies help add more life and engagement to the streets of London during free roam. They fetch experience points to both Jacob and Evie, necessary for interesting skill and level upgrades.
As always, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate map is a spread out one with full of collectibles, chests, activities such as fight clubs and some intriguing secrets of London that leads up to the mystery of Reuge’s vault. At the heart of the map is the city of London, surrounded by the real world boroughs- Whitechapel, Southwark, Westminster, the Strand, Lambeth and including River Thames. As previously said by Ubisoft, the map which is 30% larger than Unity, makes use of the 19th century London horse carriages to cruise through the city streets (gone are those days with rides on horsebacks). Jacob and Evie can hijack carriages in GTA style, and ram it through the city crowds.
The game has left me completely awe-stricken by its efforts to recreate a London city which is redolent of its times during the Industrial Revolution. The churches and cathedrals as we saw in Rome and Paris, are replaced with factories, industries and train stations. Iconic landmarks- Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace or the Saint Paul’s Cathedral depicts the magnificent and royal heritage of Victorian London. The game’s gear and weapon system has become more elegant and sophisticated. There is no conventional long or heavy swords, but a more stylish Nepali style Kukri (my choice for Jacob), Samurai style Cane Swords (my choice for Evie) and brass knuckles. Additional new items includes the hallucinating darts (replaces the berserk darts) and Bell’s voltaic bombs. Lockpicking chests throughout the city have become easier by just acquiring the necessary level skill. These chests yields different raw materials necessary for various weapons and gear crafting as well as gang upgrades (Yes, crafting is back in Syndicate).
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate involves a dynamic day/night cycle and weather system. Missions are optimized with the time of the clock (London’s Big Ben) and specific weather condition that makes them more challenging and enthralling. The scintillating graphics and the compliant audio system goes with the intensity of the game. Assassins Creed has a reputation of great music scores composed by Jesper Kyd and Lorne Balfe. For the first time, Austin Wintory gets to compose his score for Syndicate. The music is soothing, with a bit of piano and violin in background. The opening cue ‘Bloodlines’ goes with the Victorian era theme, and the closing cue ‘Family’ is a bit different but it keeps echoing in my ears. Still, these cannot beat my favorite soundtrack, ‘Venice Rooftops’ by Jesper Kyd, from Assassin’s Creed II. The game developed using the 'AnvilNext' engine, is quite stable and runs flawlessly at 40 FPS at high settings, in my rig (I7 2.5Ghz, Nvidia GTX 960m, 8GB RAM). Developers Ubisoft Quebec did a good job by postponing the launch date of the PC version by a month, and released the game with minimum performance issues or bugs. Though, some errors that existed at launch, were fixed by Ubisoft’s three patch releases, and the game looks much better than what we experienced in Unity. Besides that, the game involves no multiplayer, and includes micro-transactions within acceptable limits.
- Benevolent yet vicious, Jacob and Evie Frye have proven to be a useful asset to the Assassins Brotherhood. They can be real kind to the needy but can get equally violent to the cruel.
- Elder twin sister, Evie Frye has more of an understanding and merciful attitude, whereas, her brother Jacob Frye maintains a high temper and tends to act out in harsh.
- Most of the times, there has been a conflicts and goal mismatch between the twin assassins. While, Evie is more entitled towards her search for the ‘Piece of Eden’, Jacob keeps himself busy fighting the streets of London and jeopardizing the cruel Templar order under Starrick.
- The game is designed to include both stealth and open combat. It is optimized in a way such that Evie is more comfortable with the stealth mode, while Jacob likes open arms.
Ubisoft is known for its beautiful display of cultural diversity in Assassin Creed games. Syndicate introduces the Indian assassin Henry Green and his great uncle Maharaja Duleep Singh (also known as ‘The Black Prince of Perthshire’), the last Maharaja of the Sikh empire. Being an Indian, it was a joy to see this great Indian personality in an Assassin’s Creed game [Further to note, the Maharaja mission pack DLC will be available for all season pass holders in 2016]. Moreover, the Nepali style Kukri and the Samurai style Cane Sword as said before, shows instances of Ubisoft’s willingness to explore the diverse Asian culture. Direct consequence of this may be realized by the upcoming release of Assassin Creed Chronicles: India on January 12th, 2016 (a sequel to the 2015’ Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China). Among few other DLCs, ‘Jack the Ripper’ DLC got released in December 15, 2015. It is set during the cruel times in London 1888, terrified by Ripper’s heinous crimes, and the Twins’ considerable efforts to confront him.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate starts with lots of new character skills, gameplay, tools and stuff that promises next 20 hours of intensive gaming, but the excitement eventually dies out of monotonicity midway in the story. This can be attributed to a lack of strong backing story, which existed during the times of Desmond Miles. It’s high time for Ubisoft to reconstruct the story mode of Assassin’s Creed, which used to be the unique selling point of the franchise till now. Apart from that, the game pretty much improves in most of the other sectors. The reminiscent of 19th century London’s evocative culture can be relived by simply rope launching across the Tower of London, River Thames or the Westminster Palace. One can enjoy the game with a complete light heart and fun, except the Boss Fight at the end- which seemed a bit hilarious (though, the concept was good) and wrapped up the game without even knowing it. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is available for buy at the Ubisoft official site
PC, Xbox One, PS4
19th November 2015[PC]
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