Syndicate is, for lack of a better expression, just another Assassin’s Creed game. Like Dynasty Warriors or Call of Duty, you already know if you’re going to love or hate this one. Despite experimenting with a few entertaining concepts, there’s only been a few superficial changes to the traditional series’ formulae. As such, if you didn’t like II, Brotherhood or anything lacking ship combat, you’re not going to like this one.
Set in Victorian London, the game follows two Assassins, each with conflicting views trying to bring down a cartel of tyrannical rulers. You go in, counter a lot of stabs, stab some people in return, and enjoy the scenery. Plot wise there’s really not much else to it, as the game retains some fun characters yet the story events lack impact or gives the antagonists reason to be so cartoonishly evil.
As with past outings, the major strength here is the setting more than anything else, and the developers utterly nail old London. Sidestepping the overly grimy look which has popularised by far too many films, the city feels much more alive than almost any past outing thanks to the inclusion of carriages and ships crossing the Thames. This helps to present a new dynamic, and combined with the new methods of travel (hookshot a-la Arkham) it does give the game a little more flavour.
The mission structure is solid, but sadly repetitive and you’ll find yourself getting tired of the same sidequests quite quickly, especially conquering territory. It starts out strong but the game is reliant upon it for levelling and rapidly runs out of steam. It quickly becomes vastly more entertaining to try and recruit and build up your gang, which can thankfully be handled on the fly rather than dragging you away from your intended objective as Brotherhood so often did.
The real problem is we’ve done this same song and dance year after year for almost a decade now. It sticks to the same open world Ubisoft tropes which have been repeated a thousand times, and it’s getting very tedious. Combat remains problematic as, while playing out at a much more entertaining pace, counters are instant-win buttons. The few attempts to try new things have been mixed, with poorly handled third person shooting and the game never seems to take into account your own efforts in side-quests. You could conquer the whole of London with your gang and it won’t mean a single thing, and the modern day plot is as yawn-worthy as ever.
Syndicate is okay, but ultimately unremarkable. Many ideas have been extremely played out, and while a vast improvement over Unity that’s really not saying much.
ASSASSIN’S CREED SYNDICATE / DEVELOPER: UBISOFT QUEBEC / PUBLISHER: UBISOFT / PLATFORM: PC, XBOX ONE, PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW