Assassin’s Creed is back. Prepare to run, jump and make death defying leaps of faith, this time with the action taking place on the mean streets of Victorian London. As the saying goes, you’ve got to pick a pocket or two…
The Assassin’s Creed series has been a phenomenal success for Ubisoft since the first game was released in 2007. Whilst the basic gameplay has remained the same, each year, as with FIFA and Call of Duty, another new version is released onto the general public who snap it up with raw abandon. Unlike FIFA and Call of Duty however, there is one rather large niggle with the Assassin’s Creed series – the basic gameplay is flawed. But more on that later.
This time around the action is set in Victorian London, which makes for a compelling environment, one that is rich in foggy gaslight atmosphere. Graphics have always been a high point of the Assassin’s Creed games, and this one is no exception; the sheer splendour of London in all its glory is a sight to behold.
The free running aspect of the game, which allows you to climb buildings, run and jump across rooftops and perform superhuman acrobatics, is something of an Assassin’s Creed trademark. However, a common complaint of previous games was the lack of control you had as you tried to pull off these moves. On many an occasion, especially when you were in a hurry, you would find yourself climbing up a wall only to accidently miss-time a jump and send yourself leaping off in the opposite direction. Unfortunately these problems are still prevalent here, as are issues with the combat system.
Fighting opponents in Assassin’s Creed isn’t so much a case of how skillful you are, but rather how quickly you can mash buttons and blindly hope you can deal more damage than your foe. Things aren’t helped by the fact that many buttons have duel purposes. For example, your dodge ability uses the same button as your strike, depending on your distance from an opponent. You can just imagine the confusion that happens when taking on five or six opponents at once.
Still, enough of my grumbling. Fans of the series will lap this up, and there are just as many plus points as there are minuses. The story this time around is decent enough, and the ability to control two different characters is a welcome one. But the crown jewel in Syndicate is the setting – London is simply an amazing place to explore.
The personal highlight for me was reading about the history of various locations as you discovered them. London has a rich history, perhaps more so than any other city in the world, and the developers make full use of it here.
Not only does London have some mighty fine architecture to traipse around, but its inhabitants deserve a mention too. Early in the game, for example, you will encounter Charles Dickens. Later still, you will have the opportunity to go ghost hunting with him. And if that doesn’t want you to rush out and buy this game, nothing will.
It’s far from perfect, but thanks to Victorian London, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate gets the thumbs up. But Ubisoft, please no more of the same next year… This is a series that is long overdue for a revamp.