Assassin’s Creed Syndicate or Victorian Rejuvenation

Another year, another Assassin’s Creed. After the disappointment of Unity with the weak protagonist Arno who couldn’t light up Paris, we can now see what the dynamic assassinating twins Evie and Jacob can do in Victorian London.

And it’s a whole lot they’re doing! First of all – there is no graphical downgrade, at least not one you actually notice unless you’re a graphic whore. However, the game runs fine and neat most of the time. Second, Evie and Jacob are way more interesting than Arno – they fight, they have different goals they are going after … To enjoy Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, you should definitely play them differently – a shame Ubisoft gave each only a handful of exclusive skills. Here’s Rabidgames’ formula for fun: Have Evie sneak around and be an assassinating shadow, while Jacob knocks down the front door and bludgeons and shoots everyone in sight, always accompanied by their gang, the Rooks.

Mission-wise, there are a few missions only one can tackle, but most of the time, feel free to traverse London with your favourite. The main missions are nice and varied, and even the side content appears more structured in Syndicate – take over the city to get rewards from one guy, do fight clubs and horse carriage races to rank up with another guy, help a cop here, sabotage Templar stuff there – whatever you do, one person will make it worth your while. Okay, except for collecting flowers, treasure chests, Helix glitches and beer bottles. However, each beer bottle comes with hilarious tasting notes from Shaun, your old Assassin mate, so it’s not too bad here.

And thankfully, there are the Dreadful Crimes, murders to be investigated by our Sherlock and Watson … or rather the twins, sorry although there is a connection with Sherlock Holmes there. Besides this person, you can also have a chat with the likes of Dickens, Darwin or Bell, just to name a few, in Syndicate. And some of the conversations are actually hilarious. Oh, and we even get to meet royal blood!

With the variety above – and from sneaking to horse races to playing Froggers on the Thames while stealing stuff from boats there is quite some to be had – Syndicate feels fresher than Assassin’s Creed has felt for a while. Of course, novelties like the arcady but still fun horse carriages or the grapple hook (known from Batman or Just Cause) help making the game more fun. One letdown though is your headquarters – a moving train. Sounds lame, IS lame. A proper mansion would have been way better.

There’s one question left, right? How’s Syndicate’s London? From a Londoner’s perspective, it is doing okay – of course, some famous sights are easily recognisable, but the geography is not really accurate (to put it that way), and some areas feel rather bland. This might be historically accurate, who knows, but if there’s no difference between rich and poor areas, something feels a bit off. Apart from that though, the city feels like a breathing city in Syndicate – yes, there are less NPCs than in Unity, but train stations are still busy, and many NPCs roam the streets doing something, sometimes drunkenly beating up each other, especially at night when Syndicate’s London looks and plays at its atmospheric best. However, there is one thing that’s unrealistic – London is too bright and sunny, there should be more smog, fog and rain!

It’s fair to say Syndicate is more polished Unity, not just in case of bugs, but also in terms of gameplay elements such as streamlined activities, inventory or icons on the map. It all feels more organised and more accessible – although the fighting is more dynamic this time – and swordless, of course. But most importantly, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s protagonists are more engaging and interesting, and last but not least, the game itself is more diverse and, simply put, fun.

Rabidgames cheers: Yes, Syndicate is a successful evolution of Unity’s formula – less clunky, less confusing, more fun, more possibilities. And unless the ending sucks Templars’ balls, it could be up in the competition with the likes of Brotherhood and Black Flag. Excuse Rabidgames now, off we go to to explore the streets of London!

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