Also available on PlayStation 4 and Windows
Assassin's Creed Syndicate was Ubisoft's first foray into making a main series Assassin's Creed game on 8th gen hardware that isn't more broken than Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations. It's still pretty Ubisoft (that's not meant as a compliment), but it doesn't have the catastrophic bugs that plagued Unity, and it's second most fun Assassin's Creed game to date after Black Flag.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate takes place in London in the late 1860s during the reign of Queen Victoria. The Templar Grand Master in London has complete control of pretty much every aspect of British life and government, and despite repeated pleas from the Assassin watching over London, Henry Green, the Assassin council seems adamant that it's not yet time to strike the Templars there. So, being stubborn and impulsive young adults, twin protagonists Jacob and Evie Frye say to hell with the council and go to London on their own to start killing Templars and undoing their allegedly sinister machinations.
Syndicate managed to hook me by giving me the one thing I crave most in games (other than waifus) - the ability to conquer territory from rival gangs/nations/factions and command squads of gang members/soldiers/lackeys to fight with me. I LOVE that, and when it said "Hey, conquer the various boroughs of London," I squeed audibly. You don't NEED to conquer London, but it makes things easier by having Templar goons replaced with your goons, and...I mean, who DOESN'T want to murder hundreds of bad guys and conquer a city in the process? It's also a great way to earn experience to unlock new skills as well as money and resources to upgrade your gang, craft equipment, or upgrade your equipment.
The actual story in the game is decent. You're going after this Templar Grand Master, and to do that, you need to take out his underlings to weaken his hold on London and find out how to get close to him. You COULD just do these missions and skip the others, but you'd be missing some pretty awesome content. In one game, you can please your inner believer in science by helping Charles Darwin, your inner literature nerd by helping Charles Dickens, your inner healer by helping Florence Nightingale, and your inner communist by helping Karl Marx. It's...a beautiful cast of ancillary characters. There are a couple of other characters that I either don't remember or don't care about because who needs anything else when you can help Marx and Darwin? Assassins of the world, unite! You can also help Queen Victoria in the post game, but whatever, she's an imperialist and a capitalist, so who cares? Oh, and there's a hidden portal to World War I in case you want to go help Winston Churchill during his pre-Prime Minster days.
Now that I've gotten my Marxist enthusiasm out of the way, I can talk about how the game stacks up against the train wreck of a game that was Unity. Syndicate is an improvement in literally every way, thank god. Well, almost every way. I though Unity's story had a lot more potential if the execution hadn't been so damn awful, but while being a less interesting concept in my opinion, Syndicate's execution was waaaaaay better from a narrative standpoint. The characters in Syndicate are MUCH more interesting, though. Jacob is a WAY wittier and more sarcastic protag, and Evie is both gorgeous and a perfect foil for Jacob's reckless impulsiveness and his habit of going straight to "kill everything" as the default solution for a problem.
Syndicate also fixes almost all of my issues with Unity's game mechanics. The parkour and auto-jumping are INFINITELY more refined and appropriately responsive than in Unity, and the addition of the zipline in Syndicate makes three dimensional movement a lot easier and more fun. The jumping up and down still aren't perfect, but it's not even in the same league as the mess that Unity had. The combat is also a LOT more fluid than Unity's, and it's more satisfying as well. Visually, Syndicate is a big improvement over Unity. Textures are more detailed, character models look and move much more naturally, and - most importantly - the frame rate is a lot more stable. Again, the performance is still far from perfect, and there are still a lot of very minor Ubisoft bugs, but it's an indescribable improvement over Unity.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate is the Assassin's Creed game that Xbox One and PlayStation 4 players wanted and deserved. If Unity was a slap to the face, then Syndicate was a hot stone massage with aromatherapy and a live violinist. Unity still had a lot of fun to be had if you could overlook the major bugs and glaring flaws (even after having had four years to patch and fix), but Syndicate is just plain fun on its own in spite of its bugs. Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a genuinely fantastic game, and I'd readily recommend it even to gamers completely unfamiliar with the series.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.