Video Game Review: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

I wouldn’t expect too many video game reviews from me, as I don’t tend to play newish games (the last games I bought were The Order and Batman‘s latest game…and I have barely played Dragon Age.) But I did finish the newest Assassin’s Creed this past weekend instead of watching the Super Bowl. More specifically, I finished the DLC: Jack the Ripper portion (I’ve pretty much finished the rest of the game). I have to say, even with all of its technical flaws, I really enjoyed this game. (And there were quite a few technical flaws — every time I drove a carriage it glitched, and occasionally the side tasks would require me to restart to fix it.) But here’s what I think the game did great:

There are lots of pokes for Anglophiles.

The side tasks involve helping people such as Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Queen Victoria, and Karl Marx (okay he’s German, but of the time period.) Alexander Graham Bell makes a few appearances, giving the twins some awesome gear. Florence Nightingale has a brief cameo helping the child labor. And finally, Duleep Singh is also in the game (I think there are to be more side games where you help him out in the DLC?) You can drive past Big Ben, sneak into Buckingham palace, or take a stroll in Whitechapel.

Solving the penny dreadfuls reminded me of Sherlock’s mind palace:

So now I am convinced that really, Sherlock is just part of the Creed and his “mind palace” is just his eagle vision.

Evie’s costumes are so appropriate. 

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There is not a point in which I look at Evie and cringe. Even my mom commented on her clothing while watching me play. And what’s even better is I instantly decided I knew what I wanted to dress up for Halloween / cosplay for the rest of my life. I mean, they’ve even recently added a Steampunk outfit:

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I mean, she’s even in a dress at one point, and still looks badass:

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Even more so, Evie is a completely playable character.

I can’t express how awesome this is. Sure, you have to play Jacob during a good portion of the actual game play, and that’s fine. The twins are both looking for what they think is the best way to save London, so it makes sense to play both during the actual game play. But if I didn’t have to be Jacob, I was Evie. The coolest part was when the fight clubs were opened, and I assumed they’d force the switch to Jacob, but they totally don’t.

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She is the stealthier of the twins, and also a bit more compassionate. She helps out Clara, the leader of the Child Labor Freedom Revolution and Henry, the current assassin in London, making sure that he doesn’t get himself killed in the field.

In fact, Evie’s the one to hunt Jack the Ripper.

I really loved the DLC of this game, and don’t regret purchasing it in the slightest. I, like so many others, love the legends surrounding the Jack the Ripper murders, and I think Assassin’s Creed does it well. Evie is brought back to London by Frederick Abberline when Jacob goes missing while hunting the Ripper. And what’s even cooler — you get to play the Ripper.

I don’t recommend playing the DLC until you’re a level 10 in the regular game. While it is a separate section at the Exit Screen, it does carry over your level. (At least I think it does? Sorry if I am wrong. I opted to wait until I was a level 10.) Jack the Ripper showed up 20 years after the original game play, so not only is it amazing that you are playing Evie, but you are playing a badass roughly 40 year old Evie.

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What other game do you play a 40 year old badass woman? Evie is now a married woman and has learned some new skills, which means you have room to grow as a player. I rarely used the spikes, but the ability to scare people? Kind of cool. And suddenly, you can’t kill police officers.

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A 40 year old Jacob too, looking much better than he did in his 20s…

Jack the Ripper shows the aftermath of something we thought was good.

The setting of the DLC is similar to the regular game, only it’s a little darker, grimier, and there is snow swirling. But this is definitely not the city that is saved in the regular game— it’s a gritty aftermath. Frederick Abberline ponders repeatedly if helping Evie and Jacob was a smart idea, especially as it lead to the Ripper. The city is still overran by gangs and now prostitutes. Never once does he change his mind in wondering this, and I find this wonderful. The main game leaves players on such a high of saving the city — but is it really saved? These murders are VIOLENT, and the game does not shy away from the gruesome aftermath.

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You get to play Jack the Ripper.

Not often, and it’s not like you get to choose when and where to play him. But holy cow, that is the mind of a mad man. Jack is an intelligent man, though focused. “Hide evidence, kill witnesses.” But don’t kill innocent people — Jack did not kill innocent people, the game will warn you. It is uncomfortable and jarring, and incredibly well done.

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Feel the insanity.

Lydia Frye and Winston Churchill

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There is an added (free) bonus of crossing over into World War I territory and playing as Jacob’s granddaughter, Lydia, as she helps out Churchill. Play it when it pops up. I waited, and was a level 10 when I played it, so the level up wasn’t as fun? But she’s another amazing female character with fantastic outfits and quick wit. And she agrees to help Churchill for the small price of women’s rights to vote.

A vote can be far more lethal than a bullet, or a blade. – Winston Churchill


 

I’ve read plenty of reviews that are essentially in agreement that it’s time for Assassin’s Creed to shake up the genre, as it’s getting a bit stale. And maybe they’re right. The side games do get a bit old, and after awhile I had more money than I knew what to do with, and I had no interest in playing the smaller things like boat races or carriage races (I am TERRIBLE with the carriages.)

I have to admit, I enjoyed this game. And I think an overwhelming majority is in agreement that Evie is one of the best assassins ever. My enjoyment did come partially because I love the time period and London, but (as is apparent above) the female presence is wonderfully done in this game. I think the Jack the Ripper content is amazingly well done and worth the game. Also, the modern day stuff is so minimal, which makes me happy.

I recently read that the next game is to be in ancient Egypt, and is not coming out until 2017. I hope this means that they are looking to do a new twist, and perhaps double check the technical errors. Also, kudos on not continuing the journey forward.

Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 4/5 Moose

 

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