It's about time we got to play a bad ass female assassin. I like that there are two choices, one for the subtle, one for the “more confrontational” as the game phrases it. I'm a long time player of Assassin's Creed and I think Syndicate fits in nicely with the forerunners. Based in Victorian England, Jacob and Evie Frye are out to defeat Crawford Starrick, the boss of London, and take back the city for the people who built it. London itself is split into boroughs, like the games before, where each zone is part of the progression, but this time there are actual level numbers involved.
The player starts out doing a mission with each character, infiltrating a secret lab with Evie, and killing a factory foreman with Jacob, before shaking off their “chaperone” and deciding to head to London instead of back to the family fortress.
Once in London, they meet up with Henry Green, “Greenie” as Jacob decides to nickname him, who helps them to figure out who to befriend, who to kill, and who to (as a new feature in the game) kidnap to get information from. You befriend a policeman who is a master of disguise and kidnap gang leaders in order to get on the good side of the law. You confront gang leaders in order to take back control of the borough, or you do missions to help end child labor in order to get the 'urchins' on your side and feed you information and materials.
Jacob decides to start a gang called The Rooks in order to fight the gangs led by the London leader and this allows the player to recruit gang members in order to help the player with distractions on missions.
After the first 'tutorial' borough, you get a train as your headquarters, and much like a couple of the previous, you have a regular income of money, and ways to upgrade that income. You unlock different kinds of stores around the city, but everything seems more centralized in this game. I haven't gotten very far into this particular area.
Each character is customizable. You earn Assassin points by doing missions and earning XP, and Evie and Jacob can master different skills. You can put your points to make Jacob better at combat and Evie more stealthy. Or you can give each of them the same skills so that it doesn't matter as much who you use on each mission. I've only completed the first 'tutorial' borough, so more on this later.
Who would want to play this game: Anyone who likes the AC franchise will still enjoy the story and gameplay of the new installment. One great thing about AC is that if you haven't played one before, it's always a good time to pick up the new game. I haven't played a new Metal Gear Solid in some time, but it's the same format as I remember back in Solid Snake, sneaking, killing, and beating the crap out of people if you have to. So people who like those kinds of games will like AC
Initial Thoughts: Many features are somewhat recycled from previous games with only slight tweaks to make them more “Londony”. One thing I do notice is that, from a feminist point of view, there are less scantily clad women and no prostitutes as of yet. It's nice to see Evie in an assassin's garb and not some sort of skimpy version. She even walks like a person and not like some sort of woman on the prowl. She is an assassin first, a woman second. Some of the rival gang members are also women and they are dressed exactly the same as their male counterparts. It is a small, but, in my opinion, significant change to a genre of video games that tend to be male focused.
If you like Assassin's Creed, you'll like this game. There is more of the things we love, air assassinations (from a zipline this time!), Double Assassinations, jumping off buildings and of course assassinating... don't worry, you'll get your fill of assassinations. The London part hasn't really made it a very different game, but I have scaled Big Ben, met Charles Dickens and Alexander Graham Bell, and everyone has nice accents.