Reviewed: London Is The Star In Assassin's Creed Syndicate
Another year, another Assassin’s Creed game. You can practically set your watch by them these days. In the latest — Assassin's Creed Syndicate — You’re still a hooded lad (and lass, this time around) cutting about rooftops stabbing people up, performing the same repetitive tasks that have permeated the series since the first game. Really, you already know if you’re going to enjoy the game before the disc has been placed in your machine. They sell plenty of copies, so some of you must.
So, what’s the point in this review? Well, this is Londonist, and Syndicate is set in our great city, so we’d be remiss not to give it the once-over. Much like last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the real star of the show is the city. Revolution Era Paris was astonishing to look at, and Victorian London follows this trend.
Clambering up a smokestack chimney in Whitechapel and looking out across the city, seeing St Paul’s Cathedral, the Thames, Westminster all stunningly realised and — in true Assassin’s Creed style, finding a way to scale them — is genuinely impressive. Sure, everyone in the game speaks either like an aristocrat or like they've walked off the set of EastEnders, but regardless, the team behind these games are masters at capturing a period of history and allowing you to explore it. Until, of course, you reach ground level and see a horse drawn cart trying to walk through a wall, or a couple of orphans stuck in a piece of scenery.
You see, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is an incredibly buggy game. Within the first hour, a sequence played in which the main character had disappeared completely, leaving some poor woman stood there chatting to a gun that was floating wildly in the air. The previous game was infamous for its problems and although this one's an improvement, there are still far too many moments where someone will fall through the floor or flicker in and out of existence. Sure, all games have a few little bugs here and there, but some of these are front and centre — completely pulling you out of the incredible setting they’ve tried so hard to immerse you in. Unless, of course, people used to be able to walk through one another in the Victorian times. We don’t know, we weren't there.
The gameplay in Assassin’s Creed games always feels like it's a means to an end. They create these impressive worlds and give you all the tools so you can explore every inch of them, but when it comes to giving you something to do — an objective — it is always the same old ‘go here, follow someone for a bit, kill a guy, repeat’ that they’ve now been been hawking for eight main series games. For the past two titles anyway, they’re also riddled with silly technical problems.
We'd say something needs to change, but they still sell like gangbusters regardless of critical opinion, so no, nothing needs to change at Ubisoft’s end. Maybe you need to seriously reconsider buying them, though.
By Andi Hamilton
We played this on a PS4. Assassin's Creed Syndicate is out now on PS4 and XBox One; and will be released on Microsoft Windows on 19 November.
Last Updated 29 October 2015