Top 10 Games of E3 2015

04. Assassin's Creed: Syndicate

Your browser does not support the video tag.

The next chapter in the Assassin's Creed Sage -- Assassin's Creed Syndicate -- is developed by Ubisoft Quebec and will be published by Ubisoft on October 23, 2015 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with its Windows PC edition arriving some time during Q4 of this year - probably in time for the Christmas holidays.

This next and ninth entry in the time-bending historical action-adventure open world stealth video game main series does not require an introduction -- at least in regards to the basic premise -- because it happens to be one of the best known, best loved game series, well, pretty much ever.

That said though, Syndicate is a left-turn experience and its basic premise - and time period - are clearly NOT what most players were expecting from the series!

Bearing in mind that the most recent pair of titles in the series -- 2014s Assassin's Creed: Rogue and Assassin's Creed: Unity took place in colonial America and revolutionary Paris respectively, the late 1860s London setting of Syndicate is about as surprising as the primary focus, which is Victorian-era Organized Crime!

Telling the story of twins Jacob and Evie Frye, who face-off against the Templar Order which controls pretty much all factories and industry in London and its environs (after all this game does take place during the Industrial Revolution) the game sticks to the primary plot elements of the Assassins-vs-Templar formula that dominates the series. But it also embraces the gang culture that London of the Victorian era was very well known for!

Packed with historical locations, period clothing, and the iconic kit and special tools that the Assassin Brotherhood is very well known for, the game offers players the opportunity to bring the fight against the established order and the Templars, while waging a personal war against poverty and oppression that neatly fits into the basic philosophies that distinguish the two orders from each other.

What that means is that the story line not only fully supports player immersion, it provides the player with an almost eery glimpse into a long-dead era that has been popular with this generation of gamers, appearing in IP like Torchwood, Dr. Who, and a bushel basket of other TV shows that have shaped and propelled the Steampunk movement, so it is about time it got a proper game treatment.

Another element of game play we experienced at the show was the unique and NEW transportation and world exploration schemes that are present in the game. Some of the more attractive examples include the period railroad network, and carriages which allow for battle while traveling!

Even more important though is the very well-refined combat system that owes much to Unity, and the lessons that were learned in honing the parkour and stealth mechanics that really shined in that game.

Oddly the basic premises of the game are very different from those of the previous chapters.

What we mean by that is that the usual plot elements that make up the main story are absent here. The player not only knows who the enemy are - they know who the Templar Master is, who the officers are, and who the civilians are that are part of the support network being used by the Templar agents working against them!

The game also lacks any sort of multi-player game play modes, which is odd.

We have gotten used to seeing that sort of thing in the games, and while multi-player started out clunky and hard to like, with each new game in the series its refinement transformed it into a feature that was widely anticipated. So its absence here results in one great big “huh?”

Another really strange experience in the game is the presence of modern weaponry in an environment in which ANY weapons were justification for police action.

The player gets a six-gun that they have to be very careful in choosing when to use! Imagine that? Power that can only be projected in private? Just the sort of aspect that fits right into the Assassin's Creed!

To be honest here Syndicate was one of the games that we already knew a lot about when we arrived at the show, because the studio has not been shy about sharing.

It is also one of the most different games in terms of the established traditions of the series - after all for the first time the player is presented with TWO protagonists and their moral and traditional outlook is going to heavily influence which one they most identify with.

Now add to the mix the fact that one of them is male, the other female? That they are twins? Brother and sister? Clearly the wizards behind the story and game intended to mess with our heads!

If all that sounds too strange and too great a departure from the traditional games, bear in mind that Syndicate also fully embraces those traditions. Both Evie and her twin brother Jacob were born and raised in the Creed, being Assassins in their own right.

When they arrive in London from the rural burrough of Crawly what they find is a Templar Order that has dominated the city and its industry, usurping both power and wealth from the traditional holders - the church and the crown - and they decide to leverage the gang networks in order to muster the power and resources to resist the Templar and ultimately, to crush them!

To that end traditional elements like stealth combat, leaps of faith, hay wagons, and the combination attacks that the combat system in the game is justifiably known for, we also find other core elements that would be strange not to find.

Among the famous historical figures who step up as allies of the Assassin twins are novelist Charles Dickens, and biologist Charles Darwin - though in the case of Darwin that was rather wish fulfillment than historical accuracy considering he died two years before the twins arrive in London.

In the end, and despite the absence of multi-player, Syndicate delivers just the sort of game play entertainment and immersion that we look for from games in the AC series.

The big question on the mind of games journos is a simple one: with this being the ninth installment in the main series, does the team - and the game series - still have enough new things to say that the players are going to receive the sort of value and entertainment for their money that modern AAA titles demand?

Yes. Yes it does!

Posted: 22nd Jun 2015 by CMBF
Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PC,