Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is not the best Assassin's Creed game.
It's not the worst either.
Really, I'm inclined to think this is squarely in the middle of the road for games of the franchise. It's a serious improvement over Assassin's Creed: Unity but that's not saying much and doesn't take much in the way of risks compared to other titles. The plotline is cookie cutter but the gameplay is fun, the side-activities are always entertaining, and the leads are engagingly fun. The Assassin's Creed franchise has been accused of being the gamer McDonalds, tasty but bad for you. This is, in my opinion, a very good hamburger and fries.
|London is beautifully rendered as always. A magnificent recreation of the past.|
Which is pretty damn awesome in some places.
Less so in others.
|I'd rank Evie up there with Shay, Edward, and Ezio.|
The positives first! This is probably one of the most singularly fun Assassins Creeds in terms of gameplay in the series. Unlike the majority of games where there was usually something not particularly entertaining, just about everything you do in the game is amusing.
Child Liberation, Cargo Hijacking, Train Robberies, Assassination Missions, Boat Robberies, Gang Headquarters assaults, and even carriage chases are all fun. I've never been a completitionist with this franchise as I've never felt there was any incentive to do so. Here, however, there's side activities which tie directly to the plot and allow you to make use of your Assassin skills over and over again.
Evie and Jacob Frye are also entertaining characters who manage to get the two kinds of protagonists in the series down pat: Evie is the studious social-justice orientated one like Altair, Adult Ezio, and Connor while Jacob is the lovable rogue we get in Edward or Young Ezio. The fact you can play 75% of the missions as your favorite of the siblings means you have a great opportunity to play as you want, too. I, myself, spent the vast majority of the game as Evie and had a splendid time doing so.
Speaking of Evie, she's the kind of character who other franchises could take notes on. Evie is dressed appropriately for climbing rooftops, brawls, as well as leading a criminal organization. She's cute without being sexualized and has a distinct personality separate from her male counterpart.
|Darwin helps you blow up a drug lab. I **** you not.|
I've got to say the game also made itself more flexible in terms of how to use various tools. In previous games, I rarely used anything but my hidden blade and sword. Here, I made ample use of every tool in my arsenal including throwing knives and electrical bombs. I love the addition of the grapple gun which, while not something I would want in other time periods, fits the steampunk aesthetic the game seems to be going for.
I even enjoyed the historical characters this time around as Evie and Jacob do the usual Assassin's Creed Forest Gump thing but it feels more organic to the plot than usual. It's a little strange wondering why Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Alexander Graham Bell, Karl Marx, THE QUEEN and PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN are hanging around with two of London's most notorious gangsters but I've made more allowances for worse. The fact a lot of these characters were just living in London and could be visited by their fans makes the integration a trifle more believable.
|The Boss fights are some of the most fun and unbelievable parts of the game.|
Next, there's the suspension of disbelief I'm having with London being overrun with a massive street gang which controls every Burrough. 19th century London was the Rome of its age and one of the most settled and controlled cities in the world. I don't have a problem with taking out the Blighters in Whitechapel or the Industrial Districts but I have difficulty buying they have a stranglehold on the areas just outside Parliament and Buckingham Palace. This is a small complaint in the grand scheme of things but something I've noticed.
|Weirdly, one of my favorite parts of the game is parkor across the Thames.|
There's some silly parts to the gameplay as well too. For example, the game introduces a leveling system which blows suspension of disbelief out the water. If you're not sufficiently leveled in terms of weapons you can wail upon an opponent with a knife all day without doing much damage. Likewise, the game introduces bosses which can and do take forever to kill if, again, you're not sufficiently leveled. On the plus aside, all of these characters are still vulnerable to air assassinations as well as head-shots. Still, I can't help but remember one particular boss fight where I shot them ten times with a revolver before managing to kill them. You'll also be fighting the same three Blighter character models several hundred times.
|The creed says to stay your blade from the innocent. It doesn't say anything about running them over with carriages.|
In conclusion, this is a fun game but it's not going to win anyone's award for their favorite Assassin's Creed game. It doesn't have the oomph of the Ezio games, the metaplot of the Desmond storyline, the charm of Edward Kenway, or even the novelty of playing a Templar. Still, it's a fun game and one I recommend. The fact I don't want to punch the hell out of the protagonist like I did with Arno makes it something I gladly have played for forty hours or more.