Assassin's Creed: Syndicate Jack The Ripper DLC Review (PS4)
It's been a busy week for my PS4 and Assassin's Creed disc. I've loved this series for a long time, and I've eaten up every piece of DLC that Ubisoft has pumped out. But even I can admit that Assassin's Creed has a hit-or-miss history with its DLC. So will "Jack The Ripper" measure up to "The Tyranny of King Washington"? Or fall flat on its face like "Dead Kings"?
Taking a stab at a legend
As predictable as I knew it would be when they announced that Syndicate would be taking place in Victorian London, I knew they would have some kind of Jack The Ripper Story. So it was no surprise that Ubisoft has selected the infamous serial killer as the star of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate's first major expansion pack. The romanticized murderer was portrayed as a kind of low-rent Scarecrow, complete with growly lower-class accent and sack mask. The DLC also included four or five Hours of all-new story missions, which bring Evie Frye back to London some 20 years after the events of the main game.
Having spent some time living in India, the hooded heroine really establishes her place with the great Assassin's Creed protagonists in this add-on -- she's a middle-aged woman with all of the wrinkles and imperfections to prove it, yet she struts about the blood-strewn streets of London like a total badass. It's really cool to see such a unique character front a major franchise, especially seeing as Ubisoft told us 18 months go that it couldn't animate women.
Introduction of Fear
Frye has learned a few new tricks during her time overseas, the most notable of which is the ability to strike fear into her foes. Ubisoft typically uses these kinds of expansions as a means of experimenting with new mechanics, and here's it's devised a really interesting and innovative system that enables you to frighten your targets using bombs and spikes. It's quite a neat idea, because it gives you yet another opportunity to drag guards out of position without necessarily killing them.
You'll spend most of your time simply tossing bombs into crowds in order to cause a little upset, and then spiking one of your enemies to the ground so everyone who's watching retreats. There is even a enemy class that's immune to the intimidation factors and will attempt to calm down their allies, adding more strategy to fights.
More of the Same
The missions are really rather good, and the very best objectives are in the main campaign. One whisks you away to a boat graveyard, while others involve doing a bit of detective work (my favorite), with puzzles incorporated to keep you on your toes. There's also a bit of a graphic novel feel to things: text appears in the environment to help you with your investigations, while subliminal messages appear on-screen when you actually get to control the notorious hooker hater.
Jack the Ripper, who is playable, operates a lot like Jacob and Evie, but he's built to intimidate and butcher his prey. He has access to the same fear bombs as Evie, but he can also unleash a terrifying scream, which allows you to frighten your foes with much less hassle. Both characters also have the ability to brutalize their victims, which requires you to tap the square button. This also, of course, increases the terror level of nervous onlookers.
Aside from Playing Jack and the new fear mechanic, the story is the weakest part of the DLC. The reveal of Jack isn't anything special because it's so predictable. I've always thought that if I can think of better story elements for a game, then the developer has failed on that front and gets marks against the game. The Ripper DLC offers nothing new, but smartly keeps the best elements from the main game, such as the ability to carry out assassinations as you see fit. Side missions are mostly more of the same, though one new type has you shaming sexist perverts who are beating prostitutes by dragging them through crowds.
Though it is better then some previous entries into the Assassin's Creed DLC library, and adds interesting mechanics I'd love to see refined and included in future AC titles, the weak and predictable story really holds this piece of content down. And there are, of course, the ever-present bugs and glitches that seem to have doubled in number since the main game.
Zack's Verdict: Buy when it's on sale