This morning I received a review copy of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and have so far played between 3 and 4 hours, but I wanted to bring you all my first impressions before the shops sell it at midnight and tomorrow! We know take to the streets of Victorian London, and helm not one but two new protagonists in our fight to rid the Templars off our cherished streets. We will be able to foster gangs, ascend the landmarks, take our crusade to rid Templar crime from the beating heart of Britain. So at the beginning of my first impressions, it seems only right to start at the opening of the game, which I must say is probably one of, if not quite possibly the best openings of all the Assassin's Creed games. I naturally won't spoil the slightest thing, but rest assured, the opening 45 minutes or so, are stunning, with one or two very memorable events.
Possibly the first thing you will notice in Syndicate is the graphical prowess this games puts forth, even a step up from the aesthetic masterpiece that was Unity, Syndicate truly does let us loose on the streets of a real, breathing City. However, this is where I come across a problem with the 8th instalment of the Assassin's Creed franchise, although these games are known for having massive open worlds with a plethora of free running opportunities, Ubisoft have never quite managed to make the traversal feel organic. If you pick up any of the previous games, you will notice rather quickly that on unfortunately frequent occasions your character doesn't go where you want them to, rather bizarrely sticking to another object, and then refusing to climb to where you want them too. While this problem hasn't worsened in Syndicate, neither has it been fixed, which after so long, I find equal parts unacceptable and saddening. However that is one of the few problems with the game I have after my time with it, so we shall move onto the sections of this game which truly shine.
Let's take a look now, at the two protagonists of this Assassination filled outing, Evie and Jacob Frye. The new twins to helm the game are both very different, but also similar to each other. In an act that could very easily be classed as gender stereotyping from Ubisoft, Evie is level headed and wants to take the reasonable, direct approach. While Jacob wants to foster a new gang to rival the Templars gang, The Blighters. They both handle very differently from each other, as Evie has a more fast paced approach to combat, while Jacob opts more for slow but brute force, with his fists being a large aspect of his fighting style. I am pleased to say that there doesn't seem to be a share animation between them, with both characters acting, looking and playing with a suitable difference. Also I was overjoyed to see that the feature to switch characters at any point while in the open world(not missions). Simply go into the pause menu and press R3 and you will be taken back to the game as the other character. It is a snappy shift as well, with there being a hiatus from action for no more that 15 seconds as you change characters. Also you are spawned into the new character in the exact same place, so you should have no worries that you will have to get to a specific location to change characters. All in all, I think Ubisoft have done a marvellous job of implementing multiple playable characters, though I would like them to commit to a shift in character and give us a solo, strong willed woman in the next game.
Assassin's Creed games are now synonymous with being stealthy in at least some ways, and I am very glad to see that these mechanics have been broadened and improved in Syndicate. Now with the ability to enter "sneak" mode, simply by pressing X(on PS4), and your character of choice will remove their hat, and don their hood. While they are sneaking they are more agile and harder to detect, they also have different animations, such as hiding behind a stack of wood, or maybe peering round a corner. Also while sneaking, your character is surrounded by a white ring, which shows near audio spikes near you, this basically means that you don't have to go around with Eagle Vision(which is now unlimited) active just to be fully aware of your surroundings. There is also the ability to move the bodies of unconscious or slain enemies, so in theory you can avoid detection longer. However even if you try to pick a body up while sneaking you stand up, and go through an animation that lasts a good few seconds, very soon after being told about this feature, I was detected by another enemy, due to standing up and picking the body up. So I have since taken to leaving the slumbering bodies on the floor, and continuing with the silent breach of the building in question.
One of the other new features(or at least in a more advanced way) in Syndicate are environmental kills, these come in the form of precariously balanced objects, which when hit with either a bullet or a throwing knife collapse, and kill any unwitting enemies who happened to be walking or standing beneath! This normally would be very satisfying, and to some extent they are, but I was left with the distinct impression that foes had specifically places there, just to be the victims of an "accident". Thankfully such precipices of danger are few and far between, as they do take away some what from the immersion that is other wise amazing in Syndicate.
Finally, I would like to say that the music in this game is exceptional so far, with the score seeming to change and crescendo in exactly the right places to synergies with with the action on screen. For example, while I was climbing one of London's most famous landmarks, a rousing orchestral number was played, which suitably reached it's peak when I was near the summit. Looking next at one of my fights in a sinister looking building, which dramatic drum music was being played, at moments the music could be operatic, and a few minutes later it might feel like the very essence of industrial London is being portrayed via the soundtrack. Simply stunning, the music of Assassin's Creed Syndicate is something to behold, and a standard other games should aspire too!
That will do it for me, all in all I am have a lot of fun with Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and I would recommend you pick up this stunning portrayal of industrial London. It is released world wide on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in a few short hours from when this is first being released, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter if you will be picking it up!
Thank you very much for reading,
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!