Released just a year after its predecessor Syndicate – for the first time in the series – sports two protagonists. We can switch between Jacob and Evie as we see fit; during cutscenes, they’ll both be present, though. However, memory sequences include missions, too, for each of them, separately. We get to know both of them very well, not to mention their struggle with the creed and with each other.
Victoria Era London
Unity was ambitious. Constantly seeing the mob in front of the Palais de Justice was great. Making friends with Bonaparte. Who could refuse such a thing? Syndicate shows us a different world – London slowly being taken over by Templar Crawford Starrick who controls businesses as well as organised crime. The Fryes – against Brotherhood orders – go to the capital to teach Starrick a lesson. You will appreciate the new, “moving” headquarters, your very own train. No real estates this time.
Rooks, Carriages And That Rope Launcher
You will regularly bump into street gangs, the so-called Blighters. London consists of 7 huge areas that are, initially, completely red. Secondary missions such as killing Templars, liberating children from factories or kidnapping key criminals and by doing so aiding the Scotland Yard will all be tasks available to reduce the Templar presence. Completing all side missions will open up the final war mission where you will have the opportunity to face the gang boss.
And this is where Syndicate shines: the opportunity to make secondary quests vital to the main story. As you clear up the streets there will be more and more criminals dressed in green instead of red. They are the Rooks and they are yours to command. Your regular income can be used to make them stronger, appear in greater numbers and you can even become so notorious that bad guys dare not attack you any more.
Horse-pulled carriages are a common sight in Syndicate and the related cargo escort and -hijack missions will be randomly (but constantly) generated. This introduces vehicular combat and an easier (and faster way) to navigate the streets of London. Making friends with Graham Bell will get you the rope launcher – consider it the AC version of Batman’s grappling hook. You don’t swing, though: you need to press the button so that your character can slide and find themselves on the rooftop of the opposite building in a matter of seconds.
The Thames, Skills And Collectibles
Remember those games where you needed to cross the road with an animal? Imagine this now on the River Thames. Boats are constantly moving and appearing in front of you. Its fun hopping over to the other side and while doing so sabotaging the cargo of some Templar gang or simply marking loot for your fellow gang members.
As in Unity we have to keep playing to earn XP and obtain skill points. Purchasing various skills and their better (upgraded) versions will allow us to attain a higher level. Achievement hunters and those who like exploring everything will be disappointed to see level 10 is the maximum we can reach. Halfway through the game we already have everything. I also missed the minigame concerning lock picking. There are some skills that are only available for Jacob or for Evie. The latter was the one I preferred as Jacob is a tad bit “brute” and Evie’s extra skills are more akin to that of an assassin.
As for collectibles we now look for flowers, taste various types of beers, collect royal correspondence and the ever-present Helix glitches and treasure chests will also return. For most maps are available for purchase if you are tired of looking. We also have craft materials: extra resources are available as some inventory items cannot be immediately found but only crafted. This usually requires that we obtain the related schematics.As for weapons: a great assortment of kukris, brass knuckles and cape-swords are available. Fighting involves a lot of finishing animations – watching a film to see how Evie takes down 4 approaching enemies one after the other is just beautiful. Boxing events are available for practising. Certain activities during combat have built-in counters – performing, for instance, 25 double assassinations will make you stronger. There are a lot of such perks available – you really need to complete all missions, explore everything and play as varied a way as possible to become the ultimate assassin.
AnvilNext 2.0 And Multiplayer
The new AnvilNext engine debuted in Unity and it was not properly optimised as it had a lot of bugs and glitches. All is well now and Syndicate’s 19th century London looks tremendously beautiful. Certain missions take place at night and facial expressions of each character (including NPCs) are getting better and better. Female antagonists in the ranks of the Blighters and children on the streets of London will be a common sight. Kids will get you items as you help them – Syndicate gives you associates who regularly give you missions. It’s best to complete all for getting extra weapons, cloaks, belts or weapon schematics.
Multiplayer – for the first time in many years – is completely non-existent. No coop or companion app, either. Following the issues of Unity we were promised a better story. And Syndicate has a better one, actually. Both Fryes are likeable and, as usual, we meet many celebrities. Graham Bell gives us bombs, Sergeant Abberline always goes undercover to meet us, we realise Churchill did some great things even during World War I and we also meet Karl Marx, Charles Dickens, Darwin and even get knighted by the Queen herself.
Nothing Is True…
With Syndicate, I’ve had most fun on an AC game since Black Flag. I cannot comment on the DLCs, unfortunately, but I had fun while slowly taking over London, climbing up the Big Ben and chasing crazy suicidal Templars in the Houses of Parliament. I achieved 100% synchronisation in 75 hours and I did not regret any second of it. The gameplay mechanics are getting better and better and I look forward to seeing the nextgen AC games by downloading Origins.