The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And maybe that guy with the bag on his head..
Set in a stunning 19th century London at the height of mysterious and much debated Ripper murders, this dark new expansion from the Assassins Creed franchise offers 10 brand new missions, plus the usual fare of side quests and collectibles you would expect from Ubisoft. Much beloved characters Evie and Jacob Frye make their return along with a cast of new and recurring characters to chase the elusive and cunning Ripper through the streets and alleyways of Whitechapel.
So what’s new?
Whilst this expansion doesn’t do a whole lot in terms of mixing up the classic Ubisoft formula or even the mechanics established in the base game, it does add a few bits and pieces to pique the interest of any veteran Assassins Creed players. First and foremost, Jack is a playable character. Whilst it’s not the first time that the series has allowed you to play a villain, Jack is probably one of the most interesting characters in the franchise. Not just because he’s clearly insane and gratuitously murders everyone in his path, but also because he’s myth and remains a myth throughout the story. The bag over his head might seem like a bit of good theatrics, but not putting a face to the character serves to keep him as a legend. (Not the good sort of legend though).
The second big change is the addition of the Fear mechanic. Fear is an integral part of the Jack the Ripper DLC, not only within the context of the story and fear that Jack has instilled over London, but also as a means of achieving your goals. The fear mechanic allows you to scare away enemies, providing a non-lethal solution to many of the games side activities. The fear mechanic comes in a couple of forms. When playing as one of the Assassins, you can use fear bombs, which are essentially firecrackers, and spikes to pin people to the floor. Both of these are non-lethal and can be used to cultivate an atmosphere of fear amongst your enemies. Jack has similar weapons, although his spikes are lethal and he can also let rip a pretty terrifying scream, which will send enemies running in the opposite direction. Presumably to the toilet. Both characters can also perform fear takedowns, which have the same effect on enemies. Fill up their fear meters and they’ll give up fighting and just turn and run.
What it does well
The Jack the Ripper DLC adds comes with ten new story missions, which for the most part, are interesting, intriguing and tell a fantastically compelling story. The Ripper mythos is something that has fascinated people for over a hundred years and still to this day, has people guessing and theorising about who the real culprit was. The Ripper then is probably one of the most infamous killers of all time and the Jack the Ripper DLC turns that mythology into a hugely compelling narrative, without making light of a truly awful series of events. The quality of writing and its ability to match the quality of writing in the base game is undoubtedly the Jack the Ripper expansion’s biggest triumph.
The story missions take you across the districts of Whitechapel and City of London, as well as introducing us to some brand new locations outside of Syndicate’s established diorama of London. These new locations, whilst only available in mission, are an interesting departure from the winding streets and cobblestones of London. The missions themselves vary, offering a healthy mix of classic assassinations, intel gathering, solving murders and missions from Jacks point of view, where lots of murdering happens. The DLC offers great variety and throughout its 10 main missions, doesn’t really get old or tiresome at any point.
What it doesn’t do too well
Fear might be the name of the game here, but another word that comes quickly to mind is repetition. In somewhat typical Ubisoft fashion, the Jack the Ripper expansion gives you a whole bunch of side tasks to do in order to reclaim the boroughs of London thereby removing Jack’s influence and in typical Ubisoft fashion; they are all mind-numbingly repetitive. Tasks include liberating brothels and freeing sex workers, intimidating people sending false Ripper letters to the press, shutting down fight clubs and generally destroying Jack and his cronies’ stranglehold on the city. Some of them don’t make much sense and all of them lose most of their appeal after you’ve done them once, but they’re there and if you do them, you can get an achievement. So yeah, there’s that. Fortunately, they’re not compulsory.
Jack the Ripper is a great little expansion that adds a wealth a new missions and side tasks to an already great game. Whilst it doesn’t make a huge departure from the base game, the quality of the missions added makes it well worth a purchase. Unfortunately it falls short of the mark in the somewhat repetitive side tasks that dot the map, but whilst these are numerous, they are also completely optional. Overall then, the Jack the Ripper DLC is a great story addition to Assassins Creed: Syndicate, that unfortunately suffers from the same pitfalls as most of Ubisofts recent releases.
If you liked Assassins Creed: Syndicate, then you should definitely pick up this expansion. You can never have enough of a good thing right? However, if you didn’t think Syndicate was a particularly good thing, this probably isn’t for you.