A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a historical action-adventure game that strives for authenticity in its Victorian London setting and historical characters. It could inspire some players to take an active interest in Victorian-era-related historical characters, from Charles Dickens to Karl Marx. But though the two primary playable characters, male and female twins, fight for ideals such as freedom from oppression, the end of government corruption, and elimination of child labor, much of the action is centered on violence involving brutal and bloody melee combat. Players will see arms and legs broken, characters stabbed in the chest and face, and civilians tortured at the hands of sadistic doctors. The narrative also includes mature content including strong language, drug reference, and alcohol and tobacco consumption. Note, too, that players are encouraged to make in-game purchases to enhance their experience, and this is the latest game in a long-running franchise that could get gamers interested in those titles and related merchandise.
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What's it about?
Moving one step closer to the modern era, ASSASSIN'S CREED SYNDICATE pulls Ubisoft's series of historical epics forward to Victorian-era London, where brother and sister Jacob and Evie Frye work together to unite the people and eliminate the most corrupt elements within government and industry. The twins -- both members of the freedom-loving Assassins order -- meet and assist real historical figures ranging from Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale to Alexander Graham Bell and Karl Marx, all while cleaning up the streets through the franchise's well-established melee combat system. Players can engage in both stealth assaults and controlled brawls where players attack, break defenses, counter, and execute enemies with well-timed button taps. Missions fall into about a dozen basic categories and include freeing children working in factories, kidnapping known criminals to get them off the streets, and assassination challenges where players must kill either one target or several. Unlike most recent Assassin's Creed games, Syndicate offers no multiplayer elements.
Is it any good?
This action-adventure game is a return to basics for Ubisoft's signature series. It ditches competitive and cooperative multiplayer to focus on the franchise's primary strength: smooth single-player action in a sprawling and meticulously detailed open world. The technical problems that plagued its predecessor, Assassin's Creed Unity, have been largely eliminated. Syndicate's Victorian-era London is beautiful, breathtaking in its scope and design and (for the most part) runs at a smooth 30 frames per second. It feels like stepping 150 years into the past, and it raises the bar for lifelike sandbox worlds. You can have fun simply riding around on one of London's trains and gazing out over the game's living, breathing city. The action, meanwhile, is very compelling. Combat has been lightly revamped and now feels smoother than ever, with a well-choreographed dance of cane strikes, brass-knuckle punches, and quick pistol shots. And though it's a little more difficult to make parkour runs through London's architecture, which is noticeably taller and more diverse than that of previous cities featured in the series, the addition of a grappling gun helps balance things out, allowing players to quickly and easily zip from rooftop to rooftop.
It's not perfect, though. Bounding across the Thames, leaping from boat to boat, feels weirdly like playing Frogger and is at odds with the realism of the rest of the game. Driving bulky carriages through London's narrow streets, leveling lamp posts and plowing through crowds of civilians, is similarly off-putting. But, by and large, Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a return to form for one of modern gaming's defining series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Are there more ways in which Evie and Jacob Frye could avoid combat in favor of more peaceful resolutions? How would that change the gameplay?
Discuss gender equality in games. Assassin's Creed Syndicate is the first game in the series to let players take turns playing as both a male and female protagonist, so did you feel different as you took control of one twin or the other?
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