Before I started playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, I was reminded of how many people saw it as superior to Assassin’s Creed Unity. It seems that although in the most part Unity was a return to how the series used to be, it was overly “Ubied” up, with map icons galore and bugs a-plenty. The latter of which is par for the course in Assassin’s Creed, of course, but by the time I got round to playing it most had been patched out. I still had plenty of issues, but it was a better game than the version early adopters had despaired with.
That was Unity, however. At first, I found Syndicate a little hard to enjoy. More grimy, more violent than Unity, and with too much of a focus on trains perhaps. I instantly hated Jacob, one of Syndicate’s twin protagonists, for being too cocksure and brash. Evie, however, was pretty awesome, so I used her wherever possible in his stead.
Initially, the mission structure confused me. I didn’t understand how to do the next “story” memory, as they all seemed jumbled up with side quests and targets and other stuff. Eventually, at some point in Sequence 4 or 5, I realised you have to do the “Evie head”, “Jacob head” or “Skull” icons on the map. Until then, I’d stumbled randomly through the game and it didn’t help me like it.
Soon enough, though, it clicked. I really got into it. I started liking Jacob more (he’s brilliantly sarcastic). The conquest events, which seemed tedious and dull when a few hours in became one of my favourite bits of the game. The story was simpler, less convoluted, than Unity (and most of the recent Assassin’s Creed games, actually) and I think was better for it. Evie and Jacob take over London and find a piece of Eden. Done. No treachery, no double/triple/quadruple agents (aside from one character, but you can see that from a mile away), no unexpected twists. Just good, old-fashioned Assassins vs Templars.
And I completed it. At least, I think I did. You see, I finished what was clearly the final mission: kill the main bad guy. That’s not a spoiler – it’s literally the aim of the game. After that, no credits. No end sequence. Nothing. Except for an email, as in, a real email in my real-life inbox, from Ubisoft congratulating me for completing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Now, I’m no fan of Ubi’s end of game credits, which are often longer than the game itself as they list every human being that has ever lived, and their pets. It just seemed odd not to have them. Or anything.
I did, however, have a message with some suggestions. I should do some missions for Queen Victoria, and take over the rest of London. So I did those too. Nothing.
There are non-story missions still littering the map. Associate activities, flowers to collect, and so on. Surely I don’t need these to “finish” the game? My usual metric is to declare a game completed when I hit the credits. That hasn’t happened and I’m not sure it will. In any case, I’m taking it as done.
By the end, and I mean the end I got to rather than the end which may or may not exist, I realised that I was enjoying Syndicate way more than I’d expected to. I know I declared Unity a return to form when I played that last year, but this is another step closer. A definite refinement. I may even do what I’ve not done since Brotherhood: Try to get all the collectables, because I’m enjoying it that much. Once more, it isn’t perfect. But if Ubi can take this and polish it a bit more, then I have high hopes for Origins. It has taken a long time to recover from the massive misstep that was Assassin’s Creed III. They’re there now – just don’t ruin it!
If you want to see my complete, but lengthy, playthrough, then watch this video playlist: