As one of the primary marketing aspects behind the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, many may have simply discarded the ability to hijack horse-drawn carriages as Ubisoft’s simplistic take on Grand Theft Auto. While hijacking any sort of vehicle is certainly reminiscent of the franchise that popularized the action, there’s something truly special about pulling it off in the newest Assassin’s game.
I scored four hours worth of hands-on time with the PlayStation 4 version of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate during a recent visit to Ubisoft’s Quebec City studio, where I was given free range of Sequence 3 and 7 from the game’s main campaign. During this time I was permitted to free roam the city of London, England, which eventually lead to my first hijacking. Suffice to say, it can lead to some interesting moments.
During my play through, the streets of 1868 London were surging with activity. An assortment of carriages were being pulled down cobblestone roads by steeds of various colors, with an assortment of A.I. individuals – some good, some bad – guiding their horse-driven boxes along nonchalantly. Of course, since this is a video game, the peace wasn’t meant to last, as I jumped onto the vehicle and began to remove the driver forcefully. I was now in control of the wagon, and the once serene streets of London quickly plunged into a realm of chaos at my discretion.
Evie, the assassin I’d chosen, ferociously whipped the horses with the reins, side-swiping anyone or anything that happened across her path. Of course, this grabbed the attention of some rival gang members, which began giving chase. After accumulating three less-than-pleased horse-drawn perusers, I had Evie hop onto the roof of the newly acquired carriage with a tap of the ‘O’ button and then began unloading on these foes with her pistol – largely in vain.
As my horse pulled me along the streets of London, I emptied the entirety of the clip Evie had stocked up on; during this act I had removed one carriage from the chase in the process. My initial instinct was to shoot the drivers of each vehicle, but their co-pilot would simply take control after their companion had passed on to the other side. This left me with few options and an even fewer supply of throwing knives. All hope seemed lost until one of the developers walked over to me, and suggested I try aiming at the horse rather than the baddies. Brilliant.
As I pierced the animal with Evie’s throwing knife, it immediately collapsed – sending the horse downward and the carriage catapulting through the air like a horrifying clip from a Cirque du Soleil act gone wrong. The rival gang members were sent hurdling through the sky like rag dolls, damaging innocent onlookers and their vehicles alike. As I had Evie reclaim the driver’s seat and ride away from this disaster, she left the remaining ne’er do wells stuck behind a wall of carnage composed of what was reaming of the cart – or so I had thought.
The gang members barrelled through the wreck, determined to bring about an end to The Rooks and one of their leaders, Evie Frye. I jumped back onto the roof of my carriage, only to realize that I was out of ranged weapons. As the carriage neared ever closer, I tuned into the fact that I was able to jump onto the opposing vehicle. As I leapt over to the enemy’s ride, there was a brute on the roof waiting to make Ms. Frye’s acquaintance. I began engaging in a fist fight atop the chariot, as it rolled through the streets with reckless abandon. After landing a few blows the baddie was tossed to the curb, leaving only the driver and Evie.
I quickly had her throw this individual from the reins, allowing me to take control of the carriage. As I rode further into the city, I quickly realized that this experience was something special, and something that I’d never seen in any other Assassin’s Creed title released thus far. Traversal is indeed a new emphasis of Syndicate, and that has been put at the forefront of the way users can interact with the environment found in the new game. It’s possible that this element can become tiresome after continued play, but in that moment I felt like I was rushing through the streets of 1868 London, England. In the end, all can say is that I can’t wait to do it again.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will be available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 23, 2015. With a PC release set for November 19, 2015.