Reviews

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate In-Depth Review – Yes, It’s Actually Quite Good This Time

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Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC (at a later date)
Reviewed On: Xbox One
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Singleplayer: yes
Multipkayer: no

Review code provided free of charge by the publisher.

Fair Warning: the “in-depth” title is used for lengthy reviews. In this case the Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate review is nearly 6,000 words long, so you might want to grab a beer/tea/coffee and a snack.

Oh, Assassin’s Creed, how I want to love you, and how you keep trying to destroy what we have together. My love affair with these games began way back in 2007 when Ubisoft released the very first game, and while it had some serious flaws in its repetitive structure the mixture of climbing and stabbing won me and a lot of other people over. It’s beautiful world made us feel like we were exploring a different time in a different place. And then they followed it up with Assassin’s Creed II, which introduced us to Ezio, a character who has become one of the greatest in videogame history, and improved massively on the gameplay. Brotherhood came next, it while it’s debatable if it was better or worse than ACII it was nevertheless great in its own right. Revelations rounded off the Ezio trilogy, being less favorable reviewed but still holding its own quite well.  Assassin’s Creed III, however, showed a series struggling to advance. Then Black Flag arrived with its amazing naval combat. It was brilliant, but was also a clear sign of Ubisoft altering the series even more to fit a typical sandbox template, thus it proved to be somewhat divisive. I now view it as a great open world game, but a less impressive Assassin’s Creed game. Finally Ubisoft released two games in a single year; the forgettable and stale Rogue, and the messy, much disliked Unity. The franchise has been struggling, so can Syndicate bring it back to glory?

It seems that in an effort to ensure smoother performance the graphics have taken a slight step down since Unity amazed us all with a framerate so unstable you could swear it was drunk. Syndicate never does manage to look quite as beautiful as its predecessor did, although the difference is not pronounced and it’s possible that you may never even notice the difference. The lighting isn’t as impressive as it was and crowds have been reduced in size, although this is somewhat compensated by the carriages now trundling through the streets of 1800s London. But even while it’s visually weaker Syndicate is still a lovely looking game, the recreation of period London often looking so detailed that it’s worth taking your time just to soak it all in from, from the gentle splash of water sitting on the streets as you stride through it to the carriages driving by and the general sounds of a city going churning away. The crowd A.I. still has a horrible habit of ruining the recreation by doing stupid things like walking into each other, failing to notice odd stuff happening and jerky movement, but when they aren’t intent on shattering the illusion it’s easy to immerse yourself into the world. But has the slight decrease in eye-candy managed to temper those horrid framerates? Well, yes, at least partially. You won’t find anything like the same massive dips in FPS here, making for an altogether smoother and more enjoyable experience. It’s not perfect; there are still dips and it does seem to struggle maintain a completely stable 30FPS, mostly during moments with a lot of carriages, but overall it’s consistent enough to never really cause any serious problems and the game is all the better for it.

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The overall state of the game is much the same, the sheer number of glitches since Unity tamed but far from gone. In my time with the game I encountered a cutscene where Evie and Jakob somehow got stuck in a door in the background of a scene while a floating grapple gun hovered around in front of a character with whom Evie and Jakob were having a conversation, indicating that an invisible Jakob was walking about. Presumably the one stuck in the door was his clone or something. I also failed a mission due to accidentally getting Charles Darwin killed because he got stuck in a barrel and was thus unable to escape an explosion, a most shameful end for such a legendary figure. During another mission I was suddenly catapulted off the roof to my death for no discernible reason, which might not have been quite so irritating if the load times weren’t still excessively long. There were plenty of instances of enemies acting odd, people getting stuck and at one point a child somehow ran through a barrier and fell about two stories. At one point I failed a tailing mission but instead of the game telling me this the cart and timer suddenly vanished. By walking further up the road I was somehow able to reactivate the mission and complete it. Yup, it’s still an Assassin’s Creed game, then, but the good news is that while these problems were bloody annoying and provide even more proof that Ubisoft needs to test its games properly they weren’t game-breaking like Unity’s were.

The point is Syndicate is a much more stable game than Unity from a performance standpoint. It’s still far from as good as it really should be for a triple A title, but it’s a step in the right direction. Indeed, Syndicate as a whole can be described in this manner; it’s a step in the right direction for a series that has gone somewhat astray, yet is still quite a bit from finally becoming what Assassin’s Creed should be. But then, what should it be, really? The series has gone from its immersive, focused roots and become a typical Ubisoft sandbox series with laundry lists of stuff to do, and that’s divisive. Some people, myself included, lament the loss of what I can only describe as the series’ soul back around the time of Revelations, while others have embraced the more sandbox nature of Black Flag, although in fairness I did adore Black Flag even if I now firmly believe it was a crap Assassin’s Creed game and a f*cking epic naval combat game with stabby bits. Syndicate gets some of the focus back with a less cluttered mini-map full of tat, side-quests that mean something thanks to enjoyable little narratives and assassination missions that give you more freedom, but for everything it does right it does something else wrong. This is a game where you kill gang members to replace them with your own gang, and save children from being forced to work in factories only to have them act as spies for your gang. It’s a game where you will kill policemen just doing their job without even stopping to reflect on how crappy that, and where horses are used as battering rams while you plow through crowds. It’s at times the best the series has been, and the worst. The parkour is still glorious and annoying, the stealth is still basic but workable. That’s why review scores are going to vary wildly for this game.

The first thing is the game’s protagonists, Evie and Jacob Frye, twins born to an Assassin father who decide to retake London from the Templars. Of the two Evie is the level-headed one, more interested in locating the Pieces of Eden and upholding what it means to be an Assassin, while her brother Jacob is a cocky hot-head who simply wants to free London by killing Templars, a goal who believes can be achieved by putting together a gang called the Rooks. Their differences in opinion are one of the driving forces behind the game’s plot which essentially boils down to stopping Starrick, the Big Bad of this game who rules over London. To his credit despite limited screen time Starrick is one of the series more interesting villains thanks to a solid voice performance, although that’s not saying very much since the franchise has often struggled with its bad guys.  Evie and Jacob bicker constantly and while their varying views on what to do are a source of frustration it’s clear that they love each other, their back and forth banter easily charming me as I played. Sure, they aren’t the deepest characters, especially in comparison to series favorite Ezio, but in fairness the Italian master had three entire games to not only grow on the audience, but also to tell a long story arc so that the man we saw in Assassin’s Creed II was very different from the wise Assassin we saw in Revelations. In contrast Evie and Jacob don’t get much of a character arc which is a genuine shame, and the game’s plot is fairly muddled and disjointed as we’ve all come to expect from the series at this point, although it’s still enjoyable enough. Jacob does get most of the focus which feels like a frankly dumb move. As twins these two should have had equal time within the story, especially since the final sequences focuses on Jacob when it actually should not. I can’t say more, but suffice to say that because of what the rest of the game offers in its narrative the focus on Jacob feels weird, and it sucks to see Evie get rather sidelined, especially when she was true Assassin of the two in many ways.

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In a way these two siblings essentially provide a weird meta-mirror of Ubisoft and the player. Evie is an embodiment of the developer’s, the writers and the more die-hard fans, focused on the complex lore of the series and the history of the Assassin order, taking her role seriously while she hunts the Pieces of Eden that remain integral to the overall plot of the franchise, whereas Jacob reflects a large part of the audience who just want to get out there, kill Templars and maybe make it through an Assassin’s Creed game without having to wander down some steps into an ancient temple or some such, largely forgetting about those mysterious Pieces of Eden. Indeed there’s one section where Evie is leading Jacob into an ancient room and Jakob simply comments, “this is boring.” I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. These guys are the highlight of the game, without a doubt.

Out in the open world of London these differences in personality manifest themselves in how the two siblings play. Evie boasts the better stealth stats, while Jacob is the more talented brawler, thus the player should feel inclined to swap between the two in order to tackle different things, but that’s never the case because the differences simply are not pronounced enough until the highest tiers of the skill tree. Yup, Evie and Jacob both boast their own skill trees, an exciting prospect on paper. In reality both skill trees are identical except for the top-tier abilities of which each twin gets three unique ones, such as Evie’s kind of stupid ability to turn invisible while standing still. Most of its standard fare; increased health, better combat skill and quieter sneaking, with nothing very exciting to make levelling up feel satisfying. Once you’ve purchased some of the top skills Jacob and Evie do feel slightly different to play, but it still isn’t enough. The differences between the two needs to be more pronounced. Taking Evie into a full-on brawl in the opening hour barely feels any different from controlling Jacob, likewise I didn’t find it any more difficult to sneak around with Jacob than with Evie.

The modern-day trappings of the series return, but it’s obvious that Ubisoft are still intent on keeping it to a bare minimum these days, either because those portions were often cited as being low points in the series by critics and fans alike or because Ubisoft don’t actually have any idea where to go with it. I’m conflicted about this because I always found the modern-day stuff fascinating, especially since everything that occured to Desmond in his finale, but at the same time Ubisoft have also always done a terrible job of actually writing those sections. What we get here advances the plot, but only slightly. I’m still waiting for Ubisoft to wrap up the modern day stuff or make a large advancement in the plot.

London makes for a damn fine climbing frame, its intricate rooftops perfect for some late-night leaping. However, due to the time period there’s some wide streets that can potentially muck up the parkour goodness, thus introduced in the parkour mix is a grappling hook to allow for easier, quicker movement across the rooftops of London, while also letting you perform pretty cool aerial assassinations from them. Because it’s Assassin’s Creed and because Assassin’s Creed still can’t figure out how to get everything working together smooth it’s nowhere near as easy to use as, let’s say, Batman’s grappling hook from the Arkham series, but once you get used to how it targets buildings and the fact that it can’t manually aim it for extra precision then it becomes a good addition to the formula. Scurrying up buildings is still good fun, but considering how often it’s required it’s nice to have quicker option available. While it’s good for getting up buildings the hook can be also be used to make ziplines. Yet the grappling hook is a perfect example of how intent the series has become on making everything absurdly easy for the player. Back toward the beginning of the franchise climbing a building took at least some mild thought as you had to locate a route to get up it, but now you can simply hold RT and A and Jacob or Evie will scramble upwards.

Speaking of the parkour system let’s talk about that, because while it’s now far easier to get into windows the rest of it is just as clumsy as it was in Unity, having somehow managed to become less precise than it was in the previous generation of games despite gaining the handy descent option which has certainly made getting back to ground level easier. When it works correctly the parkour system is bloody glorious, letting you scamper around the rooftops like some sort of over-grown, coat-wearing monkey high on sugar and far too fond of stabbing things. It’s so incredibly satisfying to gracefully leap, drop and clamber across the rooftops, stabbing as you go. It’s so incredibly satisfying to nail perfect kills using it. It’s so incredibly satisfying when it works. Sadly whenever precision or speed is needed it all too often falls apart as Jacob and Evie react in unexpected ways,  get stuck at random points that can only be sorted by wiggling the stick around a bit to get them going again, clamber up things you don’t want them too, simply fail to respond quickly and so, so much more. I can’t count how many times I was discovered or ended up looking like a drunken clutz because of the parkour system being a pain in the ass. Failing because you suck at the game is one thing, but failing because the game itself let you down is infuriating. It still needs a lot of refining.

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The stealth system also remain rather barebones. You activate stealth mode by tapping A, which actually makes Jacob take off his hat and don the classic hood, and then press up against walls and doorways to take cover, which can sometimes be a bit iffy as the system doesn’t always smoothly slip into cover like it should. From cover it’s still possible to execute takedowns, plus there’s all the usual series standard moves like hiding in haystacks and aerial assassinations. Bodies can also be picked up and hidden, though doing so can take a while as Jacob and Evie clearly haven’t been working on their strength. It all works perfectly fine when outside, but inside buildings the awkward camera can make stealth feel clumsy and difficult as you try to muscle it around to see patrolling foes. It works, but it’s still a long way off from feeling like a truly fleshed out stealth game. Again, like the parkour it needs refining.

As infuriating as both the stealth and parkour can be the key to enjoying is to simply slow down. Back in the days of the Xbox 360 stealth, at least in the later Assassin’s Creed games, was fast paced. You could get away with madly sprinting around, killing guards. But here a slower, more methodical approach works far better, mitigating those awkward problems. After a few hours of playing I’d settled down into a much more careful rhythm, and through that was far more able to make the stealth and parkour work for me, rather than against me. With this adjusted playstyle I found myself getting discovered a lot less thanks to the systems behaving badly, able to sneak through entire missions without incident by using the parkour system when it was truly needed, rather than using it merely for the sake of it like I used to it. It’s a big adjustment, but it seems to suit this new brand of Assassin’s Creed better. Still, the fact that I’m curtailing my use of one of the series defining features in order to make the game work better is hardly a good thing, but by doing so there were a lot more of those oh so satisfying moments when it all comes together and reminds me why I love this franchise, and continue to love it even when it’s at its lowest points.

Combat has seen some mild alterations that bring it a little more in line with the Batman: Arkham system that’s so popular among the young ‘uns these days. An increased pace and some seriously brutal, fluid animations give combat a bigger sense of urgency and oomph, but it’s still mostly button mashing that will see you through. Hammer X to smack goons around, B to counter incoming attacks and A to break defenses, with Y being used to do things like fire off a pistol, drop a smoke bomb or hurl a knife. There’s a couple of horribly named Tool Combos as well, but that’s it for depth. Still, it’s smoother and more brutal than ever before, and thus arguably Syndicate has the best combat the series has seen yet, which isn’t saying much since fighting has always been regarded as one of the weaker aspects of the Creed games, but still, it’s a compliment.

Another inclusion are those aforementioned carriages which can be hijacked at the player’s discretion, providing another way to speed around the city when required, making those long journeys a bit more bearable if you haven’t managed to clamber up some viewpoints to be used as fast-travel points. Whereas the grappling hook is a fine new addition, though, carriages don’t fare quite so well, mostly because they feel awkward to drive, somehow managing to be both sluggish and twitchy. You will get the hang of them eventually, though.  A tap of LB lets you clamber onto the roof of your carriage and from there you can leap over to other carriages, which looks bloody awesome when it works but most of the time I found that it just plain didn’t.  Nothing manages to ruin the dramatic brilliance of leaping across moving carriages in order to stab an enemy quite like leaping, stumbling and then falling off. But hey, when it actually works you’ll have a hell of a grin on your face. The game is also rather fond of putting you into situations where you have to fight off enemies, again part of which can be done via the inconsistent method of leaping from carriage to carriage, but you can also use a gun to simply shoot bad guys in the face, or if you feel like being a right evil bastard you can just shoot the horse instead which causes a pretty cool crash that sends the driver flying through the air. More often than not, though, chases are dealt with by using your ability to ram the opponents by tapping X and a direction. Yup, horses suddenly become weapons while people, lamposts and other carriages are caught up in the destruction. So much for not harming innocents.

There’s a couple of major side-mission strings throughout the game that bring in several major historical names, including Darwin, Dickins and even a young Conan Doyle. In the case of Darwin you become embroiled in assassinating a doctor performing horrid experiments and with protecting Darwin’s reputation, while Dickins enlists you to help find out the truth about supernatural events, including Spring-Heeled Jack. These quest lines feel worth completing thanks to their small narratives, even if the missions themselves tend to be predictable, standard stuff with only the occasional surprise, like chasing Spring-Heeled Jack or donning a certain hat made famous by Sherlock Holmes.

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There are some other activities scattered across the map, waiting to be complete by a dedicated player with too much time on his or her hands. There’s plenty of enemy carriages filled with resources just waiting to be hijacked, for example, while trains and even barges sailing on the River Thames can be robbed for some quick cash, and the materials needed for crafting certain upgrades or pieces of equipment. Leaping on to a moving train before quietly or loudly dispatching the guards feels pretty damn cool, although getting back off of it can be strangely awkward, as the only way to get off is to use the Free-Run down system by holding RT and B, but this usually just results in Evie or Jacob clumsily hopping off, staggering weirdly and then getting gently smacked by the train. You can always leap off to a wall, though, which looks infinitely better. There’s also escort missions where you must drive a carriage to a specific location while fighting off incoming enemies, plus small events that occur on the streets, like civilians being bullied. None of it is as enjoyable as the major side-missions, but stopping on the way to a story mission to hijack a cart can offer up a nice little diversion, especially since making away with the cargo clean offers the satisfaction of a smooth ride to the delivery point while running in and just driving away will result in enemies giving chase.

Of course there’s also the typical smorgersboard of collectibles, but it’s harder to muster up the energy required to actually hunt them all down than it ever has been before. Still, for completionists there’s a hell of a lot to do here. If game length is an important factor when deciding whether to spend your hard-earned cash or not then Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate has that covered quite well.

A large chunk of the game is given over to retaking London from the Blighters, a gang under the control of Starrick and the Templars. This is done one borough at a time, with each borough being divided into sections and each section having one of four activities within it that when completed gives you control of that area. Templar Hunt is straightforward, tasking the player with entering enemy territory and eliminating the target using whatever means, although bonus challenges, which are present during all missions, promise bonus XP and money if a certain goal is achieved, like killing the target using falling barrels or not being detected. Templar Hunts are different in that a target must be kidnapped rather than killed. The kidnapping mechanic is new to the series, and occasionally shows up during other missions, asking you to kidnap a target and proceed through an area without drawing attention to yourself, done by moving slowly and never letting anyone too close, otherwise they’ll realise what’s going on. It’s an interesting take on stealth, playing up the social stealth that the series is known for. Obviously during a Templar Hunt, though, this doesn’t apply and the victim must simply be gotten out of enemy territory. It’s a neat idea, although it’s somewhat ruined when you realise that targets can simply be left standing their gormlessly while you wander off to slice enemies up. They won’t try to run for it, or even engage you in combat. Other than that there’s freeing children from forced labour, done by infiltrating the area, slicing up the person in charge and then pressing B when standing next to the kids. Finally there are Gang Strongholds, which have the very understandable goal of kill all the bad guys. Once you’ve managed to snag all the sectors in an area you have to take part in a gang war to claim complete control. In a slightly odd decision you can’t unlock later story sequences without first capturing enough of London.

Actually whipping up the enthusiasm to retake London, though, can be a bit challenging. All four of those activities are fun, at least for the first couple of times each, but the enjoyment wears thin as you do more and more of them, especially since London is a big place. The layouts change, but killing one Templar can feel an awful lot like killing another one. It doesn’t help that fighting for London is a hollow experience. Taking over a borough offers no visual change or reward for the effort, other than seeing more Rooks wandering the streets and far fewer Blighters trying to pick a fight, something which incidentally can be avoided altogether with a relatively cheap upgrade that apparently makes all Blighters so afraid of you that they just don’t bother. Taking over an entire city shouldn’t feel this pointless. Nothing changes. You don’t earn nifty rewards, you don’t get any degree of control over the area – it looks the same, acts the same and feels the same. By time I’d captured roughly half of London I was struggling to do the rest. It  needs to feel like battling for the control of London actually matters.

Your gang of Rooks suffers from the same problem; they don’t really feel like they matter very much, they’re just a bunch of faceless goods with no character or identity. The series has previously introduced some light management elements, letting you send Assassins or ships out on missions. In contrast the Rooks don’t do that kind of stuff, but they can be found on the streets of London and recruiedt them with a tap of RB before commanding them to wait or follow you or attack an enemy, which is naturally handy for causing a diversion. Rooks look exactly like the enemy Blighters, except they wear green rather than red. They loiter on street corners, just like the Blighters, and frankly there’s nothing to show them as being any better than those they replace. Presumably they are since they’re under the charge of Jacob and Evie Frye, but to the player it’s just the same damn A.I. with a different jacket on. It’s alright, though, because the Rooks rescue kids from illegal child labour! Hurrah! And then deploy them as child spies on the streets of London! Hurra….oh. At least the Rooks can be upgraded, though, via the now traditionally crap Assassin’s Creed menus. You can bump up their combat abilities, give them carriages and more, plus from the same screen you can invest in various things to increase your income, plus unlock a few other handy things.

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That income can be picked up from your train. Yup, there’s a train, and it acts as your home base, travelling around the rails of London. You can fast-travel back to it at anytime, but weirdly you can’t command it to travel on certain rails, which is a shame because it would have been a nice way of getting to certain spots. The train gets periodically upgraded so that it looks nice and some missions can be accessed from it, too, but otherwise there’s not a whole lot to it, really. It’s just sort of there, and there’s little reason to go back to it very often.

The economy has changed for the better in the sense that it’s now trickier to earn money, forcing you to actually save and scrimp for better gear.  Speaking of which a truly sad loss is the gear system from Unity where you could choose from different jackets, trousers, gauntlets and more, and in its place is a more limited selection that only lets you choose between a limited amount of outfits, a gauntlet and a belt. Weapons come in the form of swordsticks, Kuri and knuckle dusters only, ditching swords, axes and the large assortment we usually see. While it’s a bummer to lose so much weaponry it’s understandable given that the game takes place in 1864 London, where most people did not tend to wander around with a mace strapped to their belt.

And for the most part the mission design is pretty solid this time around. There’s still some frustrating staples of the franchise that still don’t work very well, like the tailing missions, but for the most part the missions are enjoyable and the enemy layouts are reasonable, unlike Unity where it often felt like stealth was damn near impossible. The main assassinations are still the most fun part, giving you a decently open area and the simple goal of stabbing the target in the neck. To aid you there are opportunities to be used like gaining assistance from a guard who’ll lead the rest of his forces in an attack to act as a distraction, or unique kills, such as pretending to be a corpse so that you can assassinate a doctor giving a medical lecture. It’s just a shame that like Unity AC: Syndicate feels the need to shove these opportunities in the player’s face, giving you a rundown of what’s available at the start of the mission and then clearly indicating them all on the map. The moment-to-moment gameplay of getting to these is defined by the player, but  it would be nice if these opportunities could be discovered through that gameplay rather than being highlighted. It’s another example of Ubisoft being afraid to do anything that might actually challenge the player or require the player to use their brain for five seconds. It’s Ubisoft are so afraid of somehow pissing gamers off that they simply won’t risk it. Still, unique kills and assistance opportunities give some replay value to assassinations.

Interestingly despite the protagonists being twins and thus seemingly a natural fit for some two-player co-op Syndicate ditches the co-operative multiplayer introduced in Unity, a shame really as sneaking across the rooftops with some chums was one of Unity’s few high points. Microstransactions haven’t been dropped, which is frankly depressing, but at least they’re underplayed this time around.

Synidcate is a real rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. The good news is that even at its lowest point Syndicate never does plumb the same depths as Unity, and its high points are both higher and more frequent. It’s the best Assassin’s Creed game since Black Flag, although that’s hardly saying very much since the only competition aside from Unity was Rogue, which was just…eh, despite its enjoyable final revelation. It’s an inconsistant experience, reminding us that Ubisoft are perhaps far too intent on adding more and more layers of generic sandbox gameplay onto a foundation that was never designed to support it. As enjoyable as Syndicate is, and make no mistake this is a very enjoyable game, Ubisoft still need to give the series a break and refocus on getting the actual core Assassin’s Creed gameplay back up to par before trying to expand upon it, otherwise it seems we’ll be in for at least another two or three entries before Assassin’s Creed is managing to handle the developers demands. The parkour, stealth and combat still have a ways to go.

After last year’s incredibly disappointing Unity, which I full admit to being far too damn lenient on, Syndicate takes a good few steps in the right direction, slowing dragging the series back on track. There’s still a feeling that Syndicate is lacking…well,  a soul, as dumb as that sounds. It’s a symptom of the yearly release schedule that despite each game getting three years of development time and thus plenty of personal attention they somehow feel hollow, like they are built using a checklist that includes plenty of standard open world tropes seen in everywhere else. It’s a shame to see a series I love so much be treated in this way. However, as negative as I’m being here, the simple truth of the matter is that Syndicate is quite a lot of fun. It’s twin Assassin’s are easy to like, it’s lovely to look at, the soundtrack is great, the audio is superb and it’s a relatively stable game this time around, even if it still has far too many glitches. The parkour system can still be a pain in the ass, and indeed the entire game itself can still be horribly infuriating, but when it all comes together it’s easy to remember why this series was once so beloved. Syndicate doesn’t recapture what it means to be an Assassin’s Creed game, but it’s still one of the better entries in the franchise.

I’m not doing a great job of summing this all up, am I? The simple answer is that if you’ve grown tired of the Assassin’s Creed formula over the past couple of years there’s nothing new, innovative or exciting here to draw you back in except for the knowledge that this time it all works, for the most part. If you’re still a fan of the series and were unhappy with last years shoddy Unity then Syndicate easily comes with a recommendation. There’s still work to be done, but Ubisoft have taken a step forward this year. Let’s just hope they don’t take two steps back next year. However, I can’t quite whack a recommendation sticker on the end just yet. It’s good, it really is, but it’s not quite brilliant or amazing, which is what I reserve that sticker for, even if I sometimes do get carried away with handing it out. Give it a month and a few patches and I think Syndicate will be there, but for now it’s still worth playing. Assassin’s Creed is back. Maybe not with a bang and a light show, but at least a pop and some confetti.

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