It seems like I just reviewed an Assassin’s Creed a few months ago. Oh, that’s right, I did. I think Ubisoft would do well to space the release of these games out a little more. That being said, how was it? Well, let’s find out.
Syndicate moves the setting to 1860s London. Child labour is prevalent, gangs run rampant, and the Templars (of course) have a role in all of it. Twin siblings Jacob and Evie Frye set out to free London from Templar clutches. As is always the case with these games, the graphics are beautiful despite the odd incident of a person standing in the air or limbs stretching. The control changes from the last game remain, although the parkour up and parkour down mechanic works better this time around and the running in place glitch isn’t nearly as prevalent as it has been in previous entries. The combat system, allegedly completely revamped, feels exactly the same as it did in Unity. It simply plays out a little quicker. The convoluted armour and stupid leveling system from the last game has been dropped. Leveling this time around is tied to your skills and not to your gear. It feels like a clunky and stupid version of The Elder Scrolls’ leveling system. Both characters share experience points, regardless of which one you are controlling at the time. This means that their levels can always be kept equal. The few unique skills for Jacob and Evie are geared toward combat and stealth respectively. Although, I did not find either character to be more well suited to either particular activity than the other. It was just as easy for me to sneak up on enemies as Jacob despite his sister being the “stealth character” and it was just as easy to win bare knuckle boxing matches as Evie despite the brother being the “combat character.” The crafting system introduced in Black Flag is still present, although it feels a little wasted in this entry. Long story short, aside from the gang war activities, Syndicate just feels like a refined version of Unity with a pair of English protagonists.
Ubisoft really need to rethink the ridiculous release schedule for these games. The rapid succession of releases and the constant changing of design teams (this one was developed by Ubisoft Quebec) seems like it doesn’t allow this series to be as good as it could be. The acrobatic game play and the combat are always enjoyable, but they never offer much in the way of replay value. Open world games only work when the open world is filled with memorable things to do. Ubisoft seems to understand this, as there are more side missions this time, but there still just aren’t enough for such a large, open game world. As was the case with the last one, there are too many mundane activities (carriage races, collecting helix glitches, etc.) and not enough substantive activities. Yes, the side missions with Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, Charles Darwin, and Karl Marx were enjoyable, but there just weren’t enough. On top of that, where were all of the assassinations? The main characters are supposed to be assassins after all, shouldn’t they be eliminating people? Big ticket targets are few and far between this time out. The gang war aspect, while enjoyable at fist, gets a little tiring. After eight years and ten main releases, It definitely seems like it may be time to take the series on a bit of a hiatus and do some retooling. Unity was a great game despite the glitches and Syndicate is definitely enjoyable, but it is far too similar to its predecessor.
This is just the opinion of one man, but in the future:
Keep: active stealth system, skill tree, parkour up/down system, combat
Lose: mundane activities
Add: more side missions
stay tuned for my review of Fallout 4 in the coming weeks.