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Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (PC) artwork

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (PC) review

"It’s a step up."

If you were to put the Assassin's Creed games on a sort of graph of quality, Syndicate would be a step up from Unity but just below Black Flag and Brotherhood -- which is not a bad place to be in a series that did seem to become a bit over-saturated over time. What once took the industry by storm we eventually just felt “Ugh, again?”

Syndicate is a step in the right direction, which is just as well; afterword they gave us the announcement that there will not be an Assassin's Creed game for a year. Not so much a swansong, but more of a “Here’s the best we got, see you in a couple of years!”

The gameplay is very solid, at least moreso than it was on, say, AC3. On a technical standpoint, Syndicate is a perfectly functional installment in the series. Little to no graphical errors or gameplay glitches. The odd frame drop here and there but it does go away as quickly as it comes.

I love the characters, even if the stereotypical sibling rivalry pops up out of nowhere. Dual protagonists, Jacob and Evie Frye, clash between his rush-in-and-punch to Evie’s methodical planning. It seems odd because I am just left thinking “Do both?” and they DO. When I’m not on Jacob he’s likely off doing the Jacob-specific missions that I end up playing. So why are they clashing? Despite that, they both have their charms. I’m a sucker for Jacob’s snark and Evie often goes full nerd over ancient lore and artifacts which is adorable and awesome.

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (PC) image

I quite enjoy the general city takeover. There’s a LOT to do in this game, highlights being the Child Liberation and Gang Strongholds which bring in the ultimate stealth gameplay that we’ve all come to yearn from this series. Even from Black Flag (which was wonderful and go buy it right now) which was more combat-heavy. It just feels so satisfying to navigate both of those missions in complete stealth and it usually works out pretty well.

The only exception is the officer’s “Take criminals in alive” submissions. I find them clunky and difficult to drag an enemy to a vehicle. It’s designed to just capture the person and drag them through the territory using them as a stealth bubble but I just find myself killing literally everyone in their entourage and knocking them out directly. I just feel like that’s not what they really intended.

I find myself rather indifferent on the whole leveling and skills. They’re fine and functional and I always enjoy getting new stealth levels and watching skills I use often become more effective. The post-death speeches the characters give are some of the most poetic in the entire series and I quite enjoying hearing the villains speak in every interaction.

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (PC) image

If I had a major criticism, it’s the same one most reviewers tend to have; Controls. The game can be very, very clunky.

  • I was climbing to a point to scan the area, assuming I could do the usual leap of faith into a haystack only for Evie to decide not to, and plunged to her death.

  • I was doing a mission to fight an enemy called “Spring-Heeled Jack”, a quest/area that was in my level range but I would go to die a dozen times because Evie wouldn’t counter for crap. I finally defeated him by running around in circles when he popped his smoke bomb, and I still have no idea if that’s what was blocking her ability to counter. Meanwhile, every restart was treated with a tooltip saying, “This area is too high a level! Upgrade your abilities and equipment!”. It shouldn’t have been. It was level four like everything else I was doing in the area.

  • There was a neat carriage chase where Evie was standing in the back with Jacob driving, throwing me ammo. It was a practice in quick-shotting but at one point I was able to jump out and attack the enemies. Then I failed the mission because I missed a train I was supposed to jump to. It was incredibly too quickly paced and my attention was more on survival than a subtle (and small) tooltip saying “Get to the train”.

  • I was doing one of the MANY territory control subquests, with two Templars I was supposed to assassinate. I got one, but aggro’d more enemies than I thought I could handle and decided to flee the area in order to regroup and reposition. Well, the game didn’t like this as it respawned the entire area. Leaving that tiny zone was classified as a “failure” and it completely reset.

  • Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (PC) image

    I can’t count the times I’d be shift-sprinting up, down, and sideways through terrain only for Evie to just vault off the side of a building and die on impact because she decided to make a full turn rather than the slight strafe that I intended.
    It’s during those moments that the overarching flaw of the series rears its ugly head.

    Yet? It’s hardly a dealbreaker over a quite enjoyable game. Just the occasional annoyance. I’d still recommend this game, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise but were let down by Unity. It’s a step up.


    Zydrate's avatar
    Community review by Zydrate (February 07, 2017)

    Zydrate is most active on Steam and Tumblr.

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