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Assassin's Creed Syndicate Review - A Tale of Brother-and-Sisterhood

Liz Finnegan | 22 Oct 2015 07:00
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As natural as the combat feels, there are many challenges where stealth is the only option - because, you know, it's a stealth game. Kidnapping targets in particular is tricky, because instead of fighting you they run as soon as they're aware of your presence. Since it's ideal to bring them back alive, Evie is the best character for these missions - especially when you're able to unlock her chameleon skill, which allows her to become invisible when not moving. Between that skill and a healthy stock of smoke bombs, I felt like I was capable of anything.

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Syndicate offers a number of new mechanics to help with travel and maneuvering. The newest entry in the series introduces usable vehicles. With little effort you can hijack a horse and carriage, which not only gets you around faster, but helps during chases. (Thank god, because I suck at them). They can also be used as platforms to climb, or during stealth for hiding. Carriages aren't perfect: There were occasional lapses in perspective adjustment when turning, and they aren't the easiest things to maneuver, particularly when you need to speed up or reverse.

As cool as the vehicles are, the real star addition is the rope launcher. I could write an entire article about how amazing this tool is, and how it should be in every game ever. The Batman-esque zipline is incredibly useful for quickly transporting between a variety of heights, helping with both escape and travel. However, the coolest use of the launcher was for assassinations. If you want to take out a mark from overhead, but there are no buildings close enough, you can launch your rope to another point, stop sliding over your target, and drop down for the kill. No words will fully capture how completely amazing this tool is, or how much I love it.

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Assassin's Creed Syndicate is not without its flaws - the game has a small number of clipping issues, and at one point I was forced to restart a mission because the guy I was attempting to kidnap got stuck in the ceiling. As funny as it was to watch, it was frustrating having to replay 10 minutes of slow stealth in order to get to him again - although it was impossible to intentionally recreate this glitch, so I consider this a fluke. There were also occasional lapses in perspective adjustment when turning, especially when operating a vehicle, but overall the issues were minor and didn't hinder my ability to play the game. When factoring in the fact that Syndicate is crammed with moving characters, vehicles, and boats, and yet there is no noticeable lag present, these minor gripes remain just that - minor.

In addition, some of the quests felt a bit hollow. There were many repeats in missions across London's multiple boroughs, including ones where you liberate child workers. There were no individual stories or context given across the boroughs, and with the exception of the placement of enemies, they were all clones of one another. Rescuing child slaves could have been a good place to make a player feel something for the people they are freeing, yet once you complete the mission, it's just over. I would have liked to have seen some of the quests and open world activities individualized a bit more - as one was in the main story sequence, but I won't spoil that for you.

The biggest issues from Assassin's Creed Unity, aside from launch bugs, were the absence of a multi-dimensional character and the underwhelming take on the Assassin's Creed universe - issues that Ubisoft took great care in remedying in the newest entry. Thanks to the era of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, a number of advanced weapons and features were available to use, making both the combat and stealth gameplay, as well as travel, feel fresh and energized. The protagonists are different, and yet brilliantly complimentary. Despite my few minor complaints, the game managed to make me fall back in love with the Assassin's Creed franchise - and I can't wait to play it again.

Bottom Line: Assassin's Creed Syndicate features a solid campaign, elevated by challenging assassination missions and a spellbinding setting. Syndicate delivers all of the innovations I had hoped to see from Unity, which was the franchise's first new-generation console entry, as the adjustments to combat, stealth, and travel breathe new air into the series.

Recommendation: Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a must-play for existing fans of the franchise and new players alike. Ubisoft rebounded from a disappointing title with one rich with narrative, suspense, and discovery.

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