Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Assassin's Creed Syndicate is an action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Quebec and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 23, 2015, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and on November 19, 2015, for Microsoft Windows. It is the ninth major installment in the Assassin's Creed series, and the successor to 2014's Assassin's Creed Unity.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate
Assassin's Creed Syndicate cover.jpg
Developer(s)Ubisoft Quebec
Publisher(s)Ubisoft
Director(s)
  • Marc-Alexis Côté
  • Scott Phillips
  • Wesley Pincombe
Producer(s)François Pelland
Designer(s)Frédéric St-Laurent B
Programmer(s)Pierre-Luc Coté
Artist(s)Thierry Dansereau
Writer(s)
Composer(s)Austin Wintory
SeriesAssassin's Creed
EngineAnvilNext 2.0
Platform(s)
Release
October 23, 2015
  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One
    • WW: October 23, 2015
    Microsoft Windows
    • WW: November 19, 2015
    Stadia
    • WW: December 15, 2020
Genre(s)Action-adventure, stealth
Mode(s)Single-player

The game's plot follows the premise of the Assassin's Creed franchise, involving a fictional history of real-world events where a secret war has been fought for centuries between two factions: the Brotherhood of Assassins, who promote peace and liberty, and the Templar Order, who desire peace through control. The framing story is set in the 21st century and follows the same unnamed and unseen protagonist from Assassin's Creed Unity, who assists the Assassins in their race against the Templars to find an artifact hidden in London. The main story is set in London in 1868, at the onset of the Second Industrial Revolution, and follows twin Assassins Jacob and Evie Frye as they navigate the corridors of organised crime and take back the city from Templar control. The narrative also includes segments set in 1916, during World War I, which follow Jacob's granddaughter, Lydia Frye.

The game is played from a third-person perspective and its open world is navigated on foot or by carriage. The game introduces new travelling systems and refined combat and stealth mechanics. Players control the two lead protagonists throughout the game's story, switching between them both during and outside of missions. After launch, the game was supported with several releases of downloadable content (DLC), including three story expansions. The most notable of these, Assassin's Creed Syndicate: Jack the Ripper, is set twenty years after the main campaign, and involves Evie's pursuit of the titular unidentified serial killer, who is also playable.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate received positive reviews, with praise for its visuals, characters, narrative, and level design. However, the combat, open-world design and vehicle gameplay were met with some criticism. The game was nominated for multiple awards, including Best Action/Adventure at The Game Awards 2015. Syndicate was less financially successful than previous entries in the series, selling roughly 5.5 million copies by November 2017. It was followed in October 2017 by Assassin's Creed Origins, which introduces a new storyline in the modern day and has its main plot set in Ptolemaic era Ancient Egypt.

GameplayEdit

 
Players may travel around the game's open world of London on carriages, which can be piloted or occupied

Assassin's Creed Syndicate is an action-adventure, stealth game played from a third-person perspective, that features similar gameplay elements to the previous games in the series. Players complete quests—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story. Outside of quests, the player can freely roam the open world. Composed of the greater area of Victorian London, consisting of seven boroughs,[a] the world of Assassin's Creed Syndicate is much larger than previous entries in the series.[b] The player can also perform side missions, which were designed to reflect the fight for power in London, and are cohesive to the game's main story.[3] In keeping with a historical context that more closely resembles the modern-day, the city guard of previous iterations is replaced by a Victorian-era police force, who will rarely attack the player unless a crime is committed in their presence; the player's main enemy is instead a Templar-controlled street gang called the "Blighters."

The game lets the player control two characters: twins Jacob and Evie Frye.[4] Jacob is a hot-headed brawler, specialising in close-ranged combat,[5] while Evie is strong in stealth and relies on her intelligence and wit.[5][6] Additionally, Evie is the first playable female protagonist of the main series.[6][c] In contrast to the previous' entries swords and long weapons, the main weapons of Syndicate include era-accurate brass knuckles, a compact revolver, a cane-sword, and the traditional Nepalese curved kukri knife.[7] The game also introduces new systems to navigate the world: a rope launcher, which allows the player to rappel up structures, or create a zip-line between buildings;[8] carriages, which can be piloted or simply occupied by the player, and can be the setting of fights and parkour chases;[5][9] and a train, which serves as the main base for the player throughout the game.[10] Unlike its predecessor, the game has no multiplayer mode,[11] and does not feature a companion app, which was introduced in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.[12]

SynopsisEdit

Setting and charactersEdit

In 1868, at the tail end of the Industrial Revolution, with the Assassin Brotherhood all but eradicated in Victorian London, twins Jacob (Paul Amos) and Evie Frye (Victoria Atkin) leave Crawley for London and arrive to find a city controlled by the Templars, with both the Church and the Monarchy losing their power. Raised as Assassins to follow the Creed, Jacob and Evie aim to take back the city from Templar control by infiltrating and uniting London's criminal underworld,[5][13] aided by notable figures of the era such as novelist Charles Dickens (Des McAleer), biologist Charles Darwin (Julian Richings), inventor Alexander Graham Bell (Mark Rowley), political theorist Karl Marx (Matthew Marsh), nurse Florence Nightingale (Helen Johns), Maharaja Duleep Singh (the last maharajah of the Sikh Empire) (Avin Shah), Sergeant Frederick Abberline of the Metropolitan Police Service (known for his investigation of Jack the Ripper) (Sam Crane), and Queen Victoria (Ellen David).[14][15] Additionally, Jacob's granddaughter, Lydia Frye (Lisa Norton), appears in a separate World War I segment, where she aids Winston Churchill (Rick Miller) in defending London against a new enemy espionage faction.[16]

PlotEdit

In 2015, the Helix player, now an Assassin Initiate, is again contacted by Bishop (Kate Todd) to help the Brotherhood find a Piece of Eden in London. While Rebecca Crane (Eliza Schneider) and Shaun Hastings (Danny Wallace) infiltrate Abstergo's facility in London, the Initiate relives the memories of Jacob and Evie Frye, twin Assassins from the Victorian era.

In 1868, Evie infiltrates a lab run by David Brewster (Peter Messaline) and Templar occultist Lucy Thorne (Emerald O'Hanrahan), and finds them experimenting on an Apple of Eden. Evie assassinates Brewster, learning from him that the Templars seek another artifact in London, and escapes from the lab after the Apple explodes. The Frye twins decide to head to London to stop the Templars from finding this Piece of Eden, as well as to respond to a call for help sent by fellow Assassin Henry Green (Jaz Deol). Upon arriving, Henry informs them that the London Brotherhood has fallen, and the city is controlled by the Templars, led by Crawford Starrick (Kris Holden-Ried), a powerful figure in the city's industry and criminal underworld. Although Evie wishes to search for the Piece of Eden, Jacob convinces her to help liberate London's boroughs from the control of Templar-run gangs. In the process, they build up their own gang, the Rooks, and make allies such as Frederick Abberline, Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Darwin, Ned Wynert (Ferelith Young), and Edward Hodson Bayley (Shaun Austin-Olsen).

During this time, Jacob aims to undermine Starrick's control over various aspects of London society, like transportation, economics, and politics. To this end, he assassinates Starrick's allies, including Dr. John Elliotson (Ian D. Clark), who oversaw the production of an addictive tonic; Malcolm Milner (Craig Warnock), the owner of Starrick's omnibus company; Pearl Attaway (Nathalie Toriel), Starrick's cousin and main competitor; Philip Twopenny (Clive Walton), the Governor of the Bank of England who was secretly robbing it; James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan (John Nelkes), who planned to assassinate Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (David Ferry); and gang leader Maxwell Roth (John Hopkins), who was initially supportive of Jacob's cause, but later revealed his true sadistic personality.

Meanwhile, Evie looks for the Piece of Eden with Henry's help. Following clues underneath Edward Kenway's mansion, they find the key to the Shroud's vault, but Thorne steals it and heads to the Tower of London. Evie infiltrates the Tower and kills Thorne, who reveals the Shroud is not in the Tower. Henry believes the vault is hidden in Buckingham Palace, and enlists Maharajah Duleep Singh's help to obtain the building's schematics; however, the Templars seize them first. Evie also corrects consequences of Jacob's assassinations, such as medicine shortages and currency inflation.

With his lieutenants dead, Starrick moves to retrieve the Shroud and kill Britain's heads of church and state. Jacob and Evie argue over his recklessness and her inaction, but agree to work together to stop Starrick. They infiltrate a ball held at Buckingham Palace, but Starrick beats them to the vault and obtains the Shroud. With Henry's help, the Frye twins kill Starrick, before reconciling and returning the Shroud to the vault. For their deeds, Queen Victoria knights the Frye twins and Henry.

In the present, Rebecca and Shaun spy on a meeting between senior Templars Isabelle Ardant (Claudia Besso) and Álvaro Gramática (Marcel Jeannin), who are also searching for the Shroud. They attempt to capture Ardant, but are forced to flee after being attacked by Juhani Otso Berg (Andreas Apergis) and Violet da Costa (Lucinda Davis). After the Initiate locates the Shroud, Shaun, Rebecca and Assassin Galina Voronina (Patricia Summersett) head to the vault, only to discover that Ardant, Berg, and da Costa beat them to it. A fight ensues, during which Ardant is killed and da Costa escapes with the Shroud. Hacking Ardant's computer, the Assassins learn the Templars plan to use the Shroud to construct a living Precursor. They also discover that Juno (Nadia Verrucci) is manipulating employees within Abstergo to sabotage the company, and has her own plans for the Shroud.

Time AnomalyEdit

While exploring Jacob and Evie's memories, the Initiate can encounter a "time anomaly" which, when accessed, causes them to relive the memories of Jacob's granddaughter, Lydia Frye. In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, the Brotherhood removes Jacob and Evie to the countryside while Lydia's husband, a fellow Assassin, is enrolled in the British Army, leaving Lydia as the sole Assassin to defend London from German spies. In 1916, at the behest of Winston Churchill, Lydia infiltrates and eliminates a German spy facility in Tower Bridge. In the process, she discovers the Templars have infiltrated the Germans' spy network, and sets out to hunt them down. In exchange for her services, Churchill promises Lydia that he will do everything in his power to ensure the enfranchisement of women once he returns to parliament after the War. Lydia conquers every Templar-infested area in London, killing spies and stealing documents, and eventually flushes out the leader of the Templars, who is revealed to be a Sage, the reincarnation of Juno's husband Aita.

For every objective completed, Juno, who is revealed to be the one causing this anomaly, appears and tells the Initiate of her past and rise to power. After Lydia kills the Sage, Juno thanks the Initiate for discovering his fate, and suggests that she and the Assassins could work together in the future.

Story expansionsEdit

Jack the RipperEdit

Set in 1888, twenty years after the events of the main campaign, this expansion follows Evie as she investigates the murders of female Assassins operating as prostitutes in the East End of London, which were carried out by the titular serial killer (Alec Newman). The Ripper has rallied many former members of the Rooks to his cause to help him carry out his killings, and has also kidnapped Jacob, who, unbeknownst to anyone, has a personal connection to the killer.

The Dreadful CrimesEdit

The Frye twins are approached by Henry Raymond (Andrew Gillies), a penny dreadful writer, and his follower, a young Arthur Conan Doyle (Eamon Stocks). They team up to investigate a series of murders across London, visiting crime scenes, gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses and suspects, and solving the crimes by accusing the perpetrators.

The twins are eventually summoned to Buckingham Palace by Queen Victoria, to solve the murder of one of her guards. The perpetrator is revealed to be Raymond, who plots to steal the Queen's Sceptre of the Dove. He has also left false clues suggesting a bomb threat in the palace to cover his escape. However, Doyle has already uncovered his plan and set out to stop him, only to be captured. With Raymond holding Doyle hostage on the palace roof, one of the Fryes distracts Raymond while the other sneaks up and kills him, saving Doyle and recovering the Sceptre. In the aftermath, the Fryes encourage Doyle to try writing detective fiction himself.

The Last MaharajaEdit

After an unpleasant conversation with Duleep Singh regarding his lack of commitment to the people of India, Henry decides to enlist the help of the Frye twins so the Maharaja could be persuaded to reclaim his birthright. The twins manage to recover Singh's letters to his mother, which were previously intercepted by the British Indies Company (B.I.C.) in order to stop any correspondence. This finally convinces Singh that he should take action.

Singh asks the twins to locate and recover Punjabi gold, before arranging for transports to ship the gold back to India. He then proposes to recover the Koh-i-Noor, a large Indian diamond currently kept in the Tower of London. The twins accomplish this task by infiltrating a gala held at the Tower. However, Henry reveals that the diamond they recovered is a replica, and the true Koh-i-Noor is in fact in the safe hands of the British Assassins, having been handed over to Jacob and Evie's father Ethan by Henry's own father, Arbaaz Mir, years ago.

The twins head to a B.I.C. factory and put an end to the company's production of chemical weapons. In the process, they also discover that Brinley Ellsworth, a close friend of Singh's, is in fact behind the plots against the Maharaja. Singh arranges for a meeting where he confronts Ellsworth. With Evie's help, Ellsworth is subdued. However, as Evie prepares to execute Ellsworth, she is stopped by Singh, who chooses to exercise mercy. Singh thanks the twins for their contribution before parting ways with them, vowing to continue his mission to reclaim his birthright.

DevelopmentEdit

Assassin's Creed Syndicate is the second major entry in the series not to be developed by Ubisoft Montreal, following 2014's Assassin's Creed Rogue. Instead, on July 2, 2014, Ubisoft announced that Ubisoft Quebec would handle lead development as part of "a major investment" in the studio, who had assisted in the making of the six prior games as well as The Tyranny of King Washington and Freedom Cry, downloadable content for Assassin's Creed III and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag respectively.[17] Marc-Alexis Côté serves as the creative director for the game after working in various positions on Brotherhood, Revelations, Assassin's Creed III, and Freedom Cry[18][19] while François Pelland returns as a senior producer after Assassin's Creed III, has also been an executive director on all three in-between entries.[5][20] Lydia Andrew is the game's audio director, returning from Assassin's Creed III, Black Flag, and Unity.[5][21] Historian Jean-Vincent Roy served as a consultant on the game, having previously consulted on Assassin's Creed III, and held various other positions at Ubisoft.[22] The game is also first in the series to feature a non-playable transgender character.[23]

Information on the game, then titled Assassin's Creed Victory, first leaked on December 2, 2014, through the website Kotaku, which published details and screenshots from a seven-minute "target gameplay footage" video the site had acquired. Kotaku received a large amount of backlash for this article due to the article being placed up with very little information whilst proclaiming several facts that were proven false. Ubisoft confirmed the news later that same day in a statement where the company expressed disappointment that "internal assets, not intended for public consumption" had been leaked but said that they were "excited to officially unveil what the studio has been working on at a later date".[24] The game was officially revealed on May 12, 2015,[25][26] and was released worldwide on October 23, 2015, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and on November 19, 2015, for Microsoft Windows.[27][28]

Life-size toy replicas of weapons used by Evie and Jacob in the game, the "Cane-sword" and the "Gauntlet with Hidden blade", were available for purchase at launch.[29][30] On May 13, 2015, five different editions of the game were announced for Europe.[31]

The game was supported with multiple downloadable contents, as well as a Season Pass. The Darwin and Dickens Conspiracy downloadable content was available for players who pre-ordered the game and was also later bundled into the Streets of London DLC on January 19, 2016. It adds three missions involving Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens into the game. A DLC called The Dreadful Crimes, which was exclusive for the PlayStation 4 until March 2016, is also available for players to purchase but is not included in the game's Season Pass. The DLC expands upon Unity's murder investigation system and tasks players to solve multiple murder cases.[32] A DLC entitled Jack the Ripper, loosely based on the notorious crimes committed by the titular serial killer in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888, was released on December 15, 2015, for consoles and December 22, 2015, for Microsoft Windows.[33] The Last Maharaja, the final DLC following Duleep Singh's quest to reclaim his heritage, was released on March 1, 2016, for all platforms.[34]

MusicEdit

The score to Assassin's Creed Syndicate was composed by American composer Austin Wintory.[35] The lyrical songs in the game, murder ballads, were composed by Wintory and Australian musical comedy band, Tripod.[36] The soundtrack was released on Amazon MP3 and iTunes on October 23, 2015. Bear McCreary composed the score for the Jack the Ripper downloadable content, in which a soundtrack album was released on December 1, 2015.[37]

ReceptionEdit

Assassin's Creed Syndicate received "generally favorable" reviews for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions,[39][38] while the PC version of the game received "mixed or average" reviews from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[40]

Alexa Corriea from GameSpot praised the fluidity of Syndicate's new combat system, as well as the beauty of the map and the addition of the rope launcher. She hailed the game as "a triumphant return to form for the franchise".[45] Daniel Krupa from IGN gave the game an 8.2/10, citing the design of the city and the lighthearted plot as high points, while criticising the repetitive combat, yet saying it was better than Unity's combat.[48] Brett Makedonski from Destructoid gave the game 7.5/10, praising its characters and assassination missions, but criticised the gameplay. He described combat as unsatisfying and carriage-driving as "a pain".[41] Christopher Livingston from PC Gamer gave the game 66/100. He praised the characters and the main missions but criticised the side missions as being repetitive.[50]

SalesEdit

Assassin's Creed Syndicate debuted at number one in the UK according to Chart-Track. However, in its first week, it was the second worst-selling game of the franchise in the UK, only outselling Assassin's Creed Rogue. According to reports from Ubisoft, these lower sales in the first week were due to the release of Assassin's Creed Unity (2014) having a negative impact on the sales due to its notorious number of bugs and glitches at launch. Syndicate's second week sales beat those of Unity's.[53] The game was the ninth best-selling retail game in the UK.[54] By February 2016, the game has sold over 4.12 million units worldwide.[55] As of November 2017, Assassin's Creed Syndicate has sold over 5.5 million copies worldwide.[56]

AccoladesEdit

In April 2020, Game Informer ranked the game as the second best game in the Assassin's Creed series to date.[57] Assassin's Creed Syndicate appeared on several lists of best video games of 2015, including Games Radar,[58] GameSpot,[59] Complex,[60] Eurogamer,[61] Screen Rant,[62] and Kotaku.[63] In October 2020, Game Informer ranked Assassin's Creed Syndicate among the best games of the generation.[64]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The seven boroughs of London featured in the game are Westminster, the Strand, the City of London, Whitechapel, the Thames, Southwark and Lambeth.[1]
  2. ^ While Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (2013) and Assassin's Creed Rogue (2014) both featured bigger maps than Syndicate, London is the largest single city in the series to date. The development team stated that the map is approximately 30% larger than Paris in Assassin's Creed Unity (2014), which is the second-largest city in the series.[2]
  3. ^ Assassin's Creed III: Liberation featured a female protagonist, but Liberation is not considered a part of the main series.

ReferencesEdit

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