Skip to main content

Assassin's Creed Syndicate takes a stab at London: 'There was a conscious effort to make the tone lighter'

That extends beyond dialogue and into the systemic tools like the whistle, which can be used to call the attention of the other character, or simply toying with the AI. For example, you can take a foe hostage and drag them into a carriage.

It helps that this period of London is well documented. "We want to make London feel like a very contrasted city, so when you move around it you feel the difference," says Phillips. "We knew we wanted to set it in the iconic era of London that people know with Big Ben and all these iconic locations, and then we squish and squeeze and pull and push and move things around to make it as accurate as it can be while maintaining our goal of fluid movement and good street layout. It's a mix and match of accuracy and making sure the game is as fun as possible."

AC

Another thing we quickly realised during our play time was just how big Syndicate is. The new map is 30% larger than Unity's, making this the biggest instalment in the Assassin's Creed franchise yet. However, this time there's no multiplayer, which will come as a disappointment to those who enjoyed Unity's. "It was a development decision we made to ensure we delivered the best experience for that single player," says Phillips, who won't comment on whether a multiplayer mode could possibly be added in the future. One feature of Unity we definitely hope doesn't return, however, is the bugs. The game was plagued with glitches on day one, leading to Ubisoft making a public apology to gamers.

"We're in a good position of not having to be the first out of the gate [of this console generation," says Phillips when we press him on the lessons learned from Unity. "We know a little bit more of 'Ok they did this and maybe we want to change this thing, or maybe we'll try some other ways of optimising the engine', but we had a great base to build from with the engine of AC Unity and we've taken it further."

During our gameplay we only encountered one glitch where a character vanished during a cutscene, but other than that there were no problem. Ubisoft also emphasised that this was just a preview build and that any bugs will be ironed out by the full release - here's hoping. Another welcome improvement in Syndicate is the combat system: the game now lets you combine the use of fists and items with great ease, meaning delivering a punch followed by a gunshot to the chest is as quick and easy to pull off as it would be - we assume - in real life. But the improved combat is countered with tougher enemies and more emphasis on stealth. On more than one occasion we found it very difficult to complete a mission with a guns-blazing approach.

AC

Surely it can't be long until Rockstar brings its Grand Theft Auto franchise back to London. Until then, we have a slightly more historic British playground to enjoy in Assassin's Creed Syndicate. There are new elements to enjoy, but this is still Assassin's Creed in essence. That's good news for the die-hard franchise fans, but it feels like the series may soon have to shake things up more radically if it wants to maintain its momentum of yearly instalments.