PAX Prime 2015: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Hands-On Preview – Sneaky Evie
During PAX Prime 2015, I got a chance to check out Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and play as the female assassin, Evie. Unlike her brother, Jacob, whom you probably read about in Dan’s E3 2015 preview of the game, Evie Frye is bit more subtle and a bit more sneaky. Instead of riding on top of coaches like Jacob, she prefers to stay in the shadows and use cleverer methods of taking out her targets. During my playthrough, I explored some of the different ways to kill one specific target, and had a blast doing so.
My target was Templar Lucy Thorne, a woman after a special and powerful artifact. In order to get to her, I had to be sneaky, or, at least, attempt to be sneaky, as she was tucked away in some building that was surrounded by over 50 guards. I was shown three different paths I could take to get to her and kill her, and during my first run through, I chose the cleverest approach.
I noticed that there was an associate of Evie’s who was disguised as a guard, so I made my way over to him. However, since the path to him was patrolled by numerous guards, I decided to try to get to him unseen. At first, I tried out Evie’s stealth mechanic, which essentially allows her to turn invisible while standing still. It seemed like a useful skill to use, especially in a crowded building where players can’t escape their enemies, but, since I’m a very impatient person, I decided that I didn’t want to move around slowly and stand still for any length of time. So instead, I decided to simply zip over the guards’ heads using Evie’s grappling hook/zip line tool.
Essentially, this tool allows players to fire a rope into nearby buildings, allowing them to quickly zip line down to them or slowly climb towards them. It’s an incredibly fun way to get around, and it also makes air assassinations a little easier and a little more fun, seeing as players are allowed to jump from the rope right onto their enemies.
After zipping around the city for a while, I reached the “guard,” who informed me that he could pretend to arrest me so that I may enter the building Thorne was in without raising suspicion. He explained that while this is a good and sneaky plan, we had to be careful not to get too close to other guards, as they might realize he was actually one of Evie’s buddies in disguise. I agreed to the plan, and we slowly and carefully made our way into the building and up the stairs, avoiding any guards that walked on by. When I finally got to the top, Thorne greeted me, and I greeted her with a blade in the neck. It was a smart and fun way to dispatch of her, but I wanted to try out a more direct approach, so I loaded the playthrough again.
In this next playthorugh, I decided to first take a master key from a highlighted guard. To get to him, I simply zip lined over his head, and dropped down, killing him and snagging the key. While it was possible for me to just use the key to sneak into the building, I decided to use it to unlock a guard captain who was loyal to me. The option to unlock him was highlighted on the map, so I made my way over there. The room he was being kept in was swarming with guards, so I decided to first take them all out. Instead of sneaking up behind them and assassinating them, I wanted to do a direct approach, so I went into the building with a swinging cane and a blazing gun.
Combat in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a lot smoother and faster-paced than in preview Assassin’s Creed games. The blows don’t feel as clunky or timed, and the movement (at least Evie’s movement) was both quicker and lighter than the movement of other assassins in other games. The basic attack buttons are generally the same, but there are some fun combos to perform and some even more entertaining kill animations to watch. At the same time, there are a number of gadgets to use, such as: Evie’s throwing knives, which quietly deal damage from afar; stun bombs, which shoot out electricity and both damage and stun surrounding enemies; and the classic smoke bombs from previous titles.
After using a combination of swift melee attacks and fancy gadgets, I finally got to the guard captain and unlocked his door. He informed me that he could gather some guards loyal to him, and together we could all storm Thorne’s building. We went outside, and gathered up a total of four guards, and we all ran into the building. While the my guards didn’t last all that long against the huge amount of guards in the building, they did a good enough job of distracting everyone for me to take out Thorne, as well as around 10 or 20 guards. Giving my impatient-ness, I liked this style the best.
The different gameplay styles in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate make the game stand out to me. I thoroughly enjoyed playing as Evie, and I think this year’s version of Assassin’s Creed might offer a pleasant change of pace to fans tired of the same old iteration every year.