Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate Preview

Two assassins are always better than one!

I'm a Steampunk maker and enthusiast, so that means I've been anxiously waiting for the Assassin's Creed series to enter the Victorian era. Well, that time has finally come, and Assassin's Creed Syndicate looks to be just what I wanted—a highly-polished stealth game set in London during 1868 that blends retro-futuristic steampunk elements with familiar gameplay. If the developers add my personal hero, Nikola Tesla, as a brilliant inventor who provides cool gadgets to players, I may just pee my pants with delight!

Nevertheless, the game stars twins Jacob and Evie Frye, who begin their virtual adventure as master assassins. Both siblings have grown sick and tired of the upper class taking advantage of the lower class, and they're hellbent on changing the status quo. This massive undertaking cannot be achieved by themselves, so Jacob sets out to convince the citizens of London to join his notorious street gang called The Rooks. Since the upper class are protected by the Templars, Jacob and Evie must continuously build the gang and take over sections of London in order to overwhelm their might. Eliminating the Templars eases the task of assassinating their leaders, and once they're gone, the citizens of London will be free.

Both Jacob and Evie are master assassins, but they each have their own preferred method of combat. Jacob is a charismatic brawler who excels at melee combat with multiple enemies using both his fists and also a deadly cane sword. Add a poison dart gun on his left hand and a rope launcher on his right, and the result is a killing machine who can skulk around in the dark but isn't afraid to get his hands bloody in open combat. Evie, on the other, err… hand, is a master of stealth whose gauntlet specialties have yet to be revealed. What I do know is that she excels at the art of staying hidden and prefers to strike from the shadows. Like previous characters in the series, both siblings sport dual hidden blades that let them perform single or double assassinations.

It only took me a few moments of use to appreciate the rope launcher, as it provides an immense amount of versatility and also makes traversing the complex buildings of London much easier. It works like a grappling hook, but it can also create zip lines between buildings and other objects. With this handy device, it only takes a few button presses to propel Jacob up the side of a building and then across streets to other structures. It's even possible to stalk enemies by hanging from a zip-line and then dropping down for a silent assassination. I can't wait to discover what other kinds of fun tricks I can create with the rope launcher.

Since Assassin's Creed Syndicate takes place during the Industrial Revolution, it has a more modern feel than Assassin's Creed Unity. That's because technology advanced at a highly accelerated rate during this time. As a result, city streets bustle with more activity than any previous entry in the series, basic electricity illuminates the night, and street gangs war with each other. In addition, players can drive horse-drawn carriages wherever they want, ram into other carriages, and even fight on top of them. This adds another complexity to combat and opens up a vast array of possibilities. It's also cool how steam-powered trains provide a moving platform to reach areas quickly, and it's fun to toss enemies off trains to their doom.

Hand-to-hand combat is more dynamic and now consists of more than simply attacking, blocking, and performing counterattacks. Players can target anyone in a group and fire off poison darts or even stun them to set up multiple assassinations mid-fight. In addition, the cane sword is a very useful weapon as it can block weapon attacks when sheathed, and when unsheathed, the blade makes a bloody good finisher. With so many useful combat options to choose from, players will be able to fight against multiple enemies and dispatch them with cold, calculated precision.

Jacob and Evie both have their own story missions, but either one can be used in open-world missions. These side missions are all related to growing the gang, building reputation with the underground, and liberating citizens from oppression. Although they're optional, who can resist conquering enemy strongholds, executing train and boat heists, and participating in illegal fight clubs? (Guess I just broke the first rule…)

Add these fun-sounding side missions to the other cool elements of this game, and I can't wait to don my top hat and delve into the stylish world of Assassin's Creed Syndicate this October 2015.