Assassin's Creed is one of those staples. A gaming meat and two veg as we Brits might say. Only this year's title, Syndicate, comes with more than a splash of meaty gravy on the side.

And if you wonder why the heck we're writing in British colloquialisms then, well, it's because Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is based in 19th century London. A time when everyone had beer for breakfast, lunch and dinner to avoid scurvy and, if the game is anything to go by, spoke cockney till their eyes went crossed.

We rather love the setting of Syndicate; the city that Ubisoft has obviously been desperate to use for a number of years given that almost every voice actor in previous Assassin's Creed titles has been British. Paris during the French revolution in AC Unity? That was more "cor blimey guv'nor" than it was "sacre bleu!".

But we're deviating from the point. At the Ubisoft stand at this year's E3 gaming expo we got to play Syndicate for the first time, trying out its new combat, new rope launcher and, but of course, new cart and horse chase mechanics.


That's the biggest take-away from Syndicate: you get to drive, in a sense. Which, oddly, is what guiding two horses through the back of meandering London streets feels like anyway. It's too much like throwing a car around the streets than something pulled by actual animals. We doubt many horses would run at such pace and happily ram head-on into their foes either.

But semantics aside, this new mechanic makes Assassin's Creed: Syndicate rather fun for the simple fact it helps speed up pace and progress through the city. Oh, and you can get out of the cart and have fisticuffs on the roof with enemies which is 19th century James Bond ridiculous but quite brilliant.

There are other small yet significant additions too. The introduction of the rope launcher (effectively a grappling hook) makes it easier to get higher up buildings far quicker. As much as we enjoy the parkour of the Assassin's Creed series, sometimes it can get a bit old all too fast after clambering up the fifteenth window. With the rope launcher you can even cross over the street from the rooftops.


When you do need to come back to earth to at least pretend to be a normal human being rather than a rope-slinging, rooftop-swinging assassin - Spiderman hadn't been invented yet in 1868, it seems - you'll get to experience the new combat system.

Changes in combat are subtle but effective. We felt more locked in when engaged in hand-to-hand than in previous titles, but that also made it trickier to quickly dash away in escape. The system depends heavily on countering opponents' attacks, then parrying with a punch and, to really get the job done, a combo kill using one of your weapons. Whether a pistol to the face or a knife to the body, there are blood splatters aplenty, giving Syndicate a more brutal edge than Assassin's Creed before it.


After E3 2014, when Ubisoft made some foolish remarks about women in games, there's also a playable female character. Who, funnily enough, we didn't get to play as.

Syndicate feels very much the Assassin's Creed game at its core, albeit with a little more polish and fun new features than the last title in the series. We're going to put our best cockney accent on until it launches later this year.