So over the last couple of weeks I have been playing through Assassin’s Creed Syndicate on the PS4. This is the 9th main series game, there are more handheld games but going off of the PS3/PS4 games it’s 9th. This is the follow up to Unity which came out last November.
The story this time takes place in Victorian London starting in 1868 and follows two assassins siblings, Jacob and Evie Frye. The story is pretty standard Assassin’s Creed fair, hunt Templars, kill Templars and get collectibles. Overall I would say the story is good, but it feels a bit short compared to older games. The number of memory sequences has dropped down to 9 main story sequences this time. These were split between the two characters, so while you can do free play roaming as either character missions are specific to characters. I think if you just focused on burning through the story you can beat it in a weekend. It took me a few weeks because I was trying to get all the collectibles and only really was able to play 1-2 hours a day due to real life.
The two main characters have very conflicting personalities as well. You have Jacob who feels like young Ezio, brash and reckless who doesn’t really think about the consequences of his actions. Then you have Evie, who is more like Altair/Older Ezio, focused on the mission. Each one has their own strengths, but in the end they really play just the same. Jacob gets some specific combat talents and Evie gets some stealth specific ones.You can equip outfits that give you bonus damage, or bonus items such as more knives or more grenades. When I say they play the same I mean that by the end of the campaign the only difference is the one you’re playing as. They are very interchangeable to the point I was making the joke to myself that this was a Fight Club situation where there really was only one character that had a split personality. I did play more as Evie because she was the more stealth focused, but I like them both. Overall though, each character is like-able enough. The characters were written and voiced very well. The facial animations were excellent in this one, at least for the cutscenes.
Moving on to controls though, which will be short because they were essentially the same as every other game in the series. The one improvement here over the last game was that you can dodge bullets. The combat is basically, press attack until they die. If you have to counter that’s another button, and if they are guarding there is a button to break through it. It’s very similar to the most recent Batman game. It’s simple enough that I did the Fight Club side activity standing still and just doing counters while eating a sandwich. Maybe not very effectively but I wasn’t doing that bad. Still, the combat is much better than Unity. Another improvement was lock picking. In Unity they made lock picks a consumable item that would break if you messed up on the mini game, but in this one they went back to it just being a skill and a button press, so thumbs up from me cause I didn’t like that in Unity.
One thing they did add was a zip-line used to traverse large gaps in the street. Since the world is modeled after London and had to allow for 2 lane roads they couldn’t just stick all the building within jumping distance to each other. This comes in to play throughout the story, but never over done like the Batmobile was. I wish there had been more uses for it though, like using it similar to the rope dart in Black Flag.
Another thing that was added was the ability to hijack and drive carriages. This was one of those things that some missions kind of require you to do, but it didn’t feel over done. By the end of the game I was using them as my primary means of crossing the map because of how fast it was. There are some side activities that focus on this, but those are optional and I’ll get in to that later on.
As to the graphics, man were they amazing. I wish I could see this on a PC with ultra settings. For a console game it looks amazing, better than Unity which I also really liked. I have screenshots up in the previous post.
Similar to Unity, there are plenty of side activities to do in this one, actually more than the last few games really. There are the standard helix glitches and chests to find. In addition to this you have companion missions that have an overall goal of leveling up their relationship level, which grants you item schematics. This is how you unlock the high level gear, but really could be optional. One character has you doing Fight Clubs and Carriage races. Another has you doing boat raids, or hijacking enemy shipments. Most of these are parts of the missions you do to “unlock” the areas so they go pretty quick. Only two of them felt like a chore, and those were the two that weren’t tied to opening up the areas.
The last thing really is the story. I feel conflicted about it now that I think about it. I liked the story overall, but it felt very short. There are only 9 main memory sequences that rotate between the two main characters. Some sequences had more missions than others, but most of the non-assassination missions varied in length, most being able to be completed in 15-20 minutes depending on what you were doing and if you were trying to get all the optional objectives. If you just blow through them they are pretty quick. Overall I think you can do the main story in 15-20 hours. I took longer because I did all the side stuff, which really does help you with how much damage you do and how much you can take. Overall it was good, but maybe not as good as Assassin’s Creed 2.
My biggest issue with the game was the bugs. The main culprit was one that caused the game to crash randomly when using fast travel, which is the one that happened to me the most. There hasn’t been a patch as I write this so hopefully that is something that gets fixed at some point.
I would say it is worth playing through, it does follow up the story in Unity and does tie a lot of the previous games together.