Assassin's Creed: Syndicate Review

Richard Walker

It's been a long time coming, but Assassin's Creed has finally made it to London. And while that's good news for anyone who's had the Big Smoke on their wish list of destinations since the series spread its wings beyond the Middle Ages, can Assassin's Creed Syndicate rise above the shortcomings of its Paris-set predecessor, AC Unity? The short answer is yes, although Syndicate is still far from perfect.

Chief among the gripes in Syndicate is how uneven some of the missions can be. Most are laser-focused, elegantly designed and more importantly fun, whereas others are poorly paced, badly executed and just generally shoddy. While these comparatively rubbish missions, like kidnapping a target without being seen (almost impossible) or ferrying politicians around in a carriage (what is this? Crazy Taxi?), provide genuine moments of teeth-grinding frustration, they're outweighed by Syndicate's plus points.


Quite simply – and in spite of its many flaws – Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a good game. What's more, it's possibly the best Assassin's Creed game I've played since the series arguably reached its zenith with Brotherhood. Ubisoft Quebec has nailed the sense of time and place, brilliantly representing the grime and soot of Victorian London at the dawn of the Industrial Age, with the same depth and detail as Unity, but with fewer glitches.

Only fewer mind you. Syndicate still has its fair share, none of which thankfully break the game. They're funny glitches, as opposed to irritating, progress-impeding bugs, like Evie replicating herself and walking off, a random NPC falling from the sky, floating a few inches off the ground or getting stuck inside a wall. These are relatively rare, and overall, Syndicate is a far smoother and more stable game than its predecessor. It's also a much better game, featuring likeable leads, an intriguing and engaging story, and gameplay mechanics that have been polished up and refined.

In Assassin's Creed Syndicate, you play as siblings Jacob and Evie Frye; two fledgling assassins out to rid London's rotten streets of Templar head honcho Crawford Starrick, his lieutenants and the violent gangs of Blighters lurking in every dark corner and down every seamy alleyway. There's no great change to the formula, however, as you work your way through each target, synchronising viewpoints all over 19th century London, murdering Templars, seizing bounties, liberating child workers, and clearing out gang strongholds to take back Blighter territory for your gang, the Rooks.

Once you've dug out the Templars and Blighters from Whitechapel, Southwark, Lambeth, The Strand, Westminster and even The Thames, you'll take on each region's gang leader, engaging in gang warfare against numerous foes. That's where the overhauled combat system comes into play, as you're able to take on several enemies at once with counter attacks, guard breaks and combos, using your cane sword, kukri blade or knuckle dusters. And you're able to craft better gear and outfits using materials you earn or find, making Jacob and Evie even more badass as you simultaneously level up their abilities and attributes.

Syndicate's gameplay loops prove nice and satisfying too, with just about the right amount of variation, encouraging stealth in certain instances and a more aggressive approach in others. While free-roaming and completing non-story missions within the open-world, you can switch between Jacob and Evie at any time, with the former favouring combat encounters and the latter better-suited to sneaky shenanigans. Both have the new rope launcher too, which you'll soon be grateful for, as it becomes an indispensable tool for traversal and a welcome addition.

Jacob and Evie also share skill points that can be spent on acquiring new abilities to improve your combat and stealth prowess, as well as affinity with the game's economy and horse-drawn carriages. You can even upgrade your gang, purchasing advanced training for your Rooks or sabotage to weaken the Blighters, as well as new avenues of business and enterprise to fill your coffers or keep the law off your back.

During your stay in London, you'll also meet a variety of acquaintances, each of whom have various jobs for you to complete, like hijacking cargo, pulling off train robberies, taking part in fight clubs and horse races, investigating strange happenings and more. There's loads to do in Syndicate, and the majority of it feels worthwhile.

While there might be too many collectibles stashed all over Syndicate's London expanse, the wealth of side content to be found in cleaning up the streets of Blighter activity and the London Stories offer meaningful distractions outside of the largely enjoyable narrative, likely tempting you back in to explore the world some more once the final credits have rolled on the story portion of the game. I can't say I was compelled to do the same after finishing Unity, but in Syndicate, the prospect of a return visit is an enticing one.

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A lot of that is down to the depth and richness of Assassin's Creed Syndicate's realisation of Victorian London, right down to the rainy cobbles, the brown water of the Thames and smoke stacks belching thick smog into the sky. All of the main landmarks are present and correct too, making Syndicate yet another interesting history lesson, of sorts. However, anyone who enjoyed the present day component in past games might feel massively shortchanged.

As you enjoy learning all about London during the 19th century, you can also unlock some achievements for your troubles. Assassin's Creed Syndicate's list isn't too shabby either, making use of the rope launcher for aerial assassinations, encouraging you to get into some of (but not all of) the side missions and such, unlocking perks and skills, hijacking police carriages and loads more. It's actually a rather creative list, and one that's not too much of a grind beyond having to hoover up every collectible.

It's by no means perfect and fails to reach the heights of AC II and Brotherhood, but Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a genuinely positive step forward for the series. A combination of an incredibly well-realised location, a solid story and a pair of protagonists you'll actually want to spend time with, make for not only an enormously enjoyable experience, but an Assassin's Creed game you'll want to see through right to the end. Give it a butcher's, me old china plates.

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate

Something of a return to form for the series, Assassin's Creed Syndicate is the perfect marriage of time, place and characters with an entertaining story and fun gameplay to match. London has never seemed so appealing.

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Austin Wintory's mournful score is sublime, the voice acting is strong and the atmospheric aural landscape of old London town is exactly as it should be. Excellent.


The occasional glitch can't mar what is an otherwise rather attractive game, with excellent animations (the multi-kills in particular are a joy to watch) and some stunning London vistas.


Despite the occasional frustration and irritating mission objective, Assassin's Creed Syndicate succeeds in being an enjoyable experience for the most part, and one that's far more refined from a gameplay standpoint than the previous game. The rope launcher, stealth mechanics and combat are great too.


Another massive AC game stuffed to the gills with collectibles, missions, side quests and other activities. You'll be playing this 'til the cows come home. It's not only packed with content, but most of it is enjoyable, worthwhile stuff too. The absence of co-op and multiplayer doesn't matter either.


A nigh-on perfect spread of achievement objectives with only a modicum of grinding chucked in. 100% sync seems a lot more palatable this time, even if finding every last collectible and destroying 5000(!) objects in a horse and carriage isn't.

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