Arts & Entertainment Editor
Ubisoft set the bar low with the release of the broken “Assassin’s Creed: Unity,” but the company managed to recover and soar over expectations when “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” dropped on Oct. 23.
“Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” features the Frye twins, assassins Jacob and Evie, as they try to retake London from the Templar main antagonist Starrick Crawford.
The fight between the Assassins and the Templars is a staple among all Assassin’s Creed games, and this game is no exception. One difference is the option to play as the stealthy female character, Evie Frye.
Ubisoft claimed in the past that women were too hard to animate, but received serious backlash for this comment. To see Evie Frye in this game does prove that the company listens to its fans, and it delivered a solid female character.
It also helps that players can switch between both characters at will, except for certain story missions.
Jacob and Evie Frye serve as opposites of each other. Jacob is brash, bold and more forward with his tactics, and Evie is logical, methodical and subtle in her approaches.
These characterizations seem cliché, but the writers at Ubisoft made this work. Jacob and Evie are both realistic and well-written.
The map of the game is pretty big, too. It spans areas from Lambeth to the Thames in London.
The most noticeable aspect of “Syndicate” was the upgraded combat system. The fluidity of combat is heavily improved from previous installments, where fighting was too easy or too difficult.
The game hits a sweet spot of difficulty, and with the level system, it stays balanced the entire time. The leveling system is also a new feature that rehashes what Ubisoft tried to do in “Unity.”
In “Unity,” you had to acquire a certain number of Assassin points to level up, but in “Syndicate,” players earn experience, and every 1,000 experience points, they get a skill point to put towards skills.
Skills players can acquire are “double assassinations” and improved stealth. The double assassination has been the crux of performing kills in games since “Assassin’s Creed II,” and it’s good to see Ubisoft has held onto it, even if just for nostalgia’s sake.
The game also gives players freedom in how they play. Story missions are highlighted on the map, but players can level up and take advantage of the “Conquer London” feature of the game.
This feature comes when Jacob Frye has decided to start a gang to oppose the existing gang in London, which is controlled by the Templars. He calls them the “Rooks” and the opposing gang is called the “Blighters.”
Players can do missions to lessen the Blighters’ influence in London, and after players complete enough of those missions in a certain area, the game will initiate a gang war, where players must defeat the leader of the gang in that area.
After victory is attained, players have conquered that area, known as a “borough” in-game. This part can be really immersive, and it can make players feel as if they’re the leader of an underground gang operation.
The story missions are divided between the twins. While the game mainly focuses on Jacob, since he is doing more assassinating than Evie, it would’ve been nice to see that evened out.
Jacob’s missions normally center around tracking people of influence down, and Evie seeks out an ancient artifact that could turn the tide in the war against the Templars.
The story itself is intriguing, and seeks to immerse players into the series. The entire game takes place as the player character plays through the memories of Jacob and Evie Frye.
The memories are simulations created through DNA codes, and placed into what the game calls an “Animus.” The “Animus” simply projects the memories and allows the player character to navigate through them.
Without divulging too much, the game follows two stories, one that is inside the “Animus” and one that follows modern-day events. Both stories can suck players in, and although the story outside of the “Animus” had been unrelated in previous installments of the game, “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” reels players back in.
One more thing to note about the game is that the soundtrack is produced by Grammy-nominated Austin Wintory, who also composed the soundtrack for “Journey,” a game that follows the pilgrimage of a wanderer. “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” has one of the most amazing soundtracks in the series, and it also calls back to “Assassin’s Creed II’s” main theme, “Ezio’s Family.”
One of the game’s coolest features is the moving train base. And who doesn’t like trains?