“Assassin’s Creed” has been one my favorite series in the last decade. It has had its up and downs and its share of missteps, but most of the games have been pretty good. Last year’s edition “AC: Unity” was the first game on the new console generation. It was a return to the roots of the series but had some substantial performance issues. The newest entry in the series “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” is a return to what made this series special with a beautiful game world, and a great story, and it works.
The thing that I love the most about the “Assassin’s Creed” series are the settings. Each one of them has a painstakingly accurate portrayal of a different city in an important historical time. The first was in the Crusades, then Italian Renascence, followed by the American Revolutionary War, Pirates, and last year the French Revolution.
“Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” is set in Victorian London, and follows the story of two new members of the Assassin’s order, brother and sister team of Jacob and Evie Frye. Each addition of the “AC” series has changed the formula and improved incrementally over the years, adding some features and taking away others. For a while the “AC” games had online multiplayer, which I believe detracted from the main game. “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” does not have all the online bells and whistles, bringing it closer to the series’ heyday with “AC 2.”
The world of “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” feels very alive but it’s not as crowded with people as “AC Unity.” There aren’t as many performance hiccups either. My favorite thing to do in each of the series is to explore and find all the collectibles, and see all the sights; London looks great. For the first time ever you get to play as two main characters. Evie and Jacob are very different from each other, Evie is cold and calculating and Jacob is reckless and passionate. The Frye twins are the leaders of a street gang called the “Rooks” who want to take back their city from the corruption of Starrick and his thugs.
The gameplay is much different from previous entries because you play as two characters. Each of them controls differently and they each have their own story lines. You can switch between the two on the fly. This works because they share the same money, experience and resources. It is possible to explore everything without switching but it is great to see how the other characters play and to see their side of the story. One of the best additions to the gameplay is the new grappling hook tool. It’s very similar to “Batman,” where you can shoot a hook up and zip to the top of a building without having to climb. You can also bridge gaps with it to get the jump on people below. The biggest change are the horse drawn carriages, there have never been vehicles before, but now you can steal carriages and use them for yourself. They aren’t super graceful but they can get you around fast and they lend to an effective way of killing guards because you can run them over.
Even though “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” has some similar elements from previous games it expands on the good elements and adds some great new features.
Overall I loved this game. It is a return to what made this series great and has a great story that you can to see from two different perspectives. “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” has improved on the exploration, combat and other gameplay elements in every way making it one of the best entries in the series to date.
Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]