Do you remember those good ole days of rushing to your local game shop to pick up the new adventures of your favorite Assassins? Being able to free run, assassinate anyone, have an engaging story, having a main character you could enjoy, and a game being so enjoyable you would play it well after beating the game? No? Well me neither. Ubisoft has spent the past few years pumping out new Assassin games like they were coming out with new flavors of Mountain Dew. We as fans thought they recovered with their swashbuckling adventures in Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag, however that was just the top of the apex before the plummet into rushed games and bad stories.
Though we're here to talk about the newest addition into the world of Assassins, Assassins Creed Syndicate, not Ubisoft. Syndicate revolves around two young, hotshot assassin siblings, Jacob and Evie Frye. They are training under another assassin, when they decide to respond to the Brotherhood's call for help in London in the late 1800s. The Templars are ruling over London in search for yet another piece of Eden. The siblings decide to help free London from the Templars, however in two very different ways. Jacob decides that the only way to free the people is to create gangs and kill all the gang leaders. Evie however wishes to follow in her father's foot steps, and follow the creed's mission, and find the piece of Eden before the Templars do. Thus begins their grand adventure in freeing London's people from the tight grasp of the Templars.
Now that we know the basic story outline of this game, let's jump into the nitty gritty of this game. That's the point of a review isn't it. Let's say we look at the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY.
To start us off we'll start with the GOOD. One of the biggest things that made us love the assassin creed games was the intriguing story and the charismatic characters.
Ubisoft followed in GTA V's style, and gave us the chance to switch between 2 characters. This was a great addition, and gave the game more variety to it. Also this game went back to actually giving their characters some actual character to them. Jacob you could say was a mix of two crowd favorites, Ezio Auditore and Edward Kenway. He was very charismatic like Ezio was and really made you feel like you were playing as Ezio again. He also was very straight forward, and basically charged in guns blazing like Edward, which made playing him very enjoyable. Now Evie on the other hand you could say was a clone of Altaïr, but with more girl power and excellent British etiquette. She didn't have much in the face of personality, but she was a good representation of what the Brotherhood stands for, and was a true assassin. Which forced you to be more stealthy with her, or else you die.
The story is a continuation of the previous game where the assassins of today are diving into their ancestors to find where the pieces of Eden were put away, however this game does something that we as players have been waiting for since they killed off Desmond, they made the parts with today's people cut-scene only. No more do we have to waste time with "google" like employee characters, that take us away from the fun stuff. This was a great change and made the game flow much better. This way we could fully immerse ourselves in the story of the assassins, without having to be forcefully taken out to look at terminals or talk to people we don't care about.
With the story being in London in the 18th century, the setting was very accurate. At no time did I feel like I wasn't running through the boroughs of London. They were really able to capture the true feel of England of that time. The missions, the streets, the river, everything was true to London in that time.
Gameplay added a new feature that made traveling through the city a lot easier, the Spider-man hook shot. This hook shot allows us to climb up tall buildings, jump from one building to a far away building, and escape from enemies. It was a lot of fun zip lining around the city, and dropping on enemies.
Now that we got the good stuff out of the way, let's go ahead and move onto the BAD.
The game added a new skill base system, so you could set up the characters as if they were individual. However the main issue with that was that all the skills were the same until you got to either level 8 or 9 to choose skills that were character specific (highest level is 10). Which means that really choosing either character didn't really matter, since they were just clones of each other until you were able to level them up high enough. So the whole thing of Jacob being the fighter and Evie being the stealthy character, didn't make any difference since they had the same skills and equipment to choose from.
The AI overall is the same as they were in previous games. Walk away and hide and they forget you were ever trying to kill them 1 second ago. But the biggest thing with the AI this time is that they are completely stupid. Like take the video to the left. In this shot you can see Evie tailing an AI. Well this AI ends up getting into a buggy, and literally driving it into a corner. This goes on for awhile until the AI smartly decides to get out, and then proceeds to walk all the way to the destination. This wouldn't be so bad, if the destination wasn't far, but there was a reason it originally got into a buggy. So here you are as a player, stuck for several minutes following a slowly walking AI to it's destination. Which pretty much is the peek of boredom.
One thing players missed were the actual brotherhood. Where you could save people and train up assassins. Well it's still gone, but you might think "hey you can get gangs". Yes you do, you even have a separate skill set you can set for your gang, but the gang is the stupidest thing in the game, figuratively and literally. The gang you can not just call on a whim like you could with the assassins. You have to call them if you see them on a street somewhere. Then after you call them, they don't climb or free run, so if you run too far, they leave and you have to grab some others, and that's just the start of their stupidity. Let's go with their actual stupidity and look at one of the missions you can do in the city. Some of the Templar hideouts will have gang members you can rescue. Well, once you rescue these guys do they run? Do they follow you so you can continue sneaking around the hideout? Nope, they will immediately alert the enemy and charge in fighting, unless you quickly recruit them then tell them to hold. Which is not as easy as it sounds. To continue on their stupidity, let's say your sneaking up on enemies near the streets, if your gang sees you they will also join you and start fighting the enemies, even without your command.
Now what about all the equipment and cool costumes? Nothing. We have three forms to fight, Cane-Sword, Kukri, and Brass Knuckles. And really there is no difference between them. You have the same combos, same damage, and so forth. You have to choose from these. No focus on the hidden blade at all, and you can't hide the weapons at all. The outfits for Evie are really cool, but Jacob's are kind of weird and the top hat is the stupidest thing. And no longer can you have the hood up, you have to choose to have the hood on or off. If you have the hood on, the cops will immediately attack you, but if the hood is off the Templars will immediately detect you. So now your going back and forth which makes it very hard to even try to sneak around and not very enjoyable.
What about the free running? Isn't that still fun climbing around and everything? Not anymore. Free running is all command base now. You must be holding the free run button(R2) as well as either the up command(X) or the down command(O). The free running is so bad because of the commands that you have to input, that if you start going up and decide to start going down by holding R2+O, you will still keep going up unless you completely stop. This also applies when you're running on the rooftops. You can be in full sprint, but the moment you hit the edge the character will stop dead in their tracks until you switch commands. Making free running frustrating, and no longer fun running around.
That's just a little taste of the bad and annoying, let's have some fun and look at the UGLY.
Ubisoft has proven with this game that they don't care about quality in their games anymore, or they just have the crappiest game testers in the business. This game is littered with glitchy issues.
Glitch free running
Missing people in cut-scenes
Characters falling through the abyss
This is just a few examples of the several glitches and just poor game play in this game.
We also see in trailers and gameplay videos of cool multi-kills and awesome fight scenes. Is that in the game? Yes. Are you able to pull it off? Not in the slightest. The game glitches when switching opponents, glitches when attacking, and sometimes doesn't even pick up counter commands. This makes fighting multiple opponents very hard, and makes you want to through your controller at the screen.
Overall I would really have to rate this game as a 3 out of 10, and this is being generous. The thing that kept me playing was purely the story. Which really for most people, you could probably just go watch the game as a movie on Youtube and be fine. I did like the characters and story, but the game is so glitchy and the game mechanics were so frustrating that it made the game really annoying and frustrating to play.
~ Stephen Vargo