View Full Version : Syndicate Review: Surprisingly Good

05-30-2017, 07:50 AM
I went in expecting Syndicate to disappoint. I had held off on buying it due to the lack of historical villains (come on Ubisoft, you had ****ing James Mayer de Rothschild as a potential Grandmaster, and you just made up a guy?) and the loathsome advertising, but I enjoy Assassin's Creed too much to stay away, even when I'm expecting to have my head bashed in with a

And, starting off, the game didn't seem that impressive. The intro was a real snoozefest compared to every other game in the franchise, and there was no one thing that wowed me. After playing through Sequence 4 and three Gang Wars, though, I've fallen in love.

It's no one thing, the game is basically just Unity in a new setting. It deals with a lot of my main criticisms of Unity, though. For starters, the open world has plenty of satisfying content in it. The Paris Stories were okay and the Investigations good, but I found it all rather insubstantial. Here, though, we have both a combination of (well-presented) side stories in the form of Charles ****en's Ghost Club and more Far Cry-style open objectives like the Child Liberation and Gang Stronghold missions. Combined with the races and the gang warfare system, it's some of the best fun I've had exploring a city in these games. It reminds me a lot of the joy of sailing the seas in Black Flag or cutting and shooting my way through the Frontier. A HUGE improvement over Unity.

And oh, that gang warfare system. I still miss the training and mission system from, well, Brotherhood, but the way you can use your allies on the map in this game blows Brotherhood and III out of the water. I love the way you're constantly getting into skirmishes with the Blighters (which can then turn into bigger battles with the constables), and I love being able to lead around a little squad of troops, blasting Blighters away death-squad style or in carriage drive-bys.

The plot, so far, isn't near as exciting or interesting as the previous ones, but it hits a sweet spot of enjoyability with a charismatic set of characters, good mission design, and a clear sense of purpose. It doesn't quite have the spectacle of earlier titles (so far), but it kind of ties in with the open world better and has generally been a good inclusion. The Lambeth Asylum mission was awesome, and if the other assassinations are up to that standard, I'll be quite happy.

Now, some comments on the gameplay. I love the carriages and kidnapping mechanic. I'm not even sure why the carriage combat is so satisfying, it just is. Kidnapping, on the other hand, is mostly just good for role-playing and is a welcome relief since non-violent stealth is a lot harder now. I definitely want to see both of these return in future games. However, I do have a bunch of minor quibbles, and most of them are about things Ubisoft didn't include that were in previous games. I swear, I just don't understand why they'll add a great new feature and not use it in the future.

1. Rope darts. They were awesome in III, but you made them unlock way too late in Black Flag, and then just straight up removed them in Unity and Syndicate. Why? No joke, the main thing I remember about III's gameplay was lynching redcoats from trees. It was just fun.

2. Coins. They were to the Ezio games what rope darts were to III. I'd just walk around on bridges throwing coins down and watching the Italians swarm over them like chickens on seed. I was a lot easier to entertain back then, having been just a kid, but it's a shame they've been removed.

3. I didn't miss thieves and *****s in III or Unity, but this is Victorian London! With you building a criminal syndicate! There are thieves in the game, and all they do is give you crafting materials! You missed a prime opportunity to add in the old thieves/prostitutes system, just like they were in the Ezio games. No need for mercs, though, since the Rooks fill that role.

4. You can invest in pubs, you're a gangster, but you can't drink. Yeah, it was a little immersion feature, but I really like it in every game that has it. For that matter, it would have been nice to have been able to actually invest in specific pubs and develop them a little, and have some games (like III and Black Flag had).

5. Trains are fun when you get to interact with them, but they're absolute piss when it comes to controls and don't really appear much. In Watch_Dogs, I was constantly using the L-train to escape the cops. It was one of my favorite features, as I'd get in long-range shootouts riding it. You can't do that in Syndicate, because the two trains are always halfway across the map from you...

6. I like the throwing knives, but they're a little bit overpowered. I think they could use a much shorter range. They really should travel in an arc, too.

7. I expected the grappling hook to be overpowered and stupid, but I never did find it to be a problem. Honestly, I enjoy it. I still feel, though, like it should maybe have worked as a zipline, and nothing more... allowing you to cross a street, but not scale towers. Part of the magic of early AC games was having to find the way up yourself.

8. I've gotten used to the combat by now, but it's too easy, and it lacks the visual flare that III had. Like, III had visually entertaining combat, while Unity had mechanically entertaining combat. I'm not sure how exactly I would change the melee combat, but I know I enjoyed both Mad Max's and Sleeping Dog's melee combat a lot.

Well, that's all I have to say at the moment. Syndicate is shaping up to be a great game, and I hope somebody from Ubisoft sees this (although they probably won't). It's gotten me excited for Origins.

05-30-2017, 03:01 PM

That is one thing that I really wish Syndicate had focused on just a little bit more.

The trains in the game were so cool, but there was only 1 or 2 total. Seeing a train, and even zipping up to and escaping an area on one was so much fun, but they were so few and far between. Seemed like you could stand on traintracks for half an hour without seeing anything.

Seems like they were far more common in Watchdogs.