Review

Assassin's Creed Syndicate Review

  • First Released Oct 23, 2015
    released
  • PS4
Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+

It takes two.

After completing my second ghost hunt with Charles Dickens, I decided it was about time to shut down the last factory forcing children into labor. As I made my way across Westminster, zipping between rooftops with my rope launcher, a notice popped up indicating I was approaching a bounty hunt. The objective was simple--kill an important member of my rival gang--and I decided the children could wait a bit longer. I was in and out of the mission in under a minute after dropping hanging barrels on gang members, throwing down a smoke bomb and taking out the leader with a gun to the head. I ziplined out, stopping only once more to change my outfit to one that held more throwing knives, before dropping by a black market stall for a refill and dashing towards the factory. The children of London needed me.

This is Assassin's Creed Syndicate's playground. One moment you're free-running through a borough towards the next story mission, the next you're sneaking through a dilapidated building picking off criminals as you find yourself irresistibly drawn to the promise of experience points and in-game cash--not to mention notoriety among the London underground. The organic way in which missions and side projects pop up is bolstered by their placement in a gorgeous rendition of 1868 London, complete with massive factories spewing smoke into the sky and intricately detailed copies of every major landmark you can think of--all climbable, of course. Overlaying all of this is one of the best stories the Assassin's Creed franchise has told in recent years, featuring dual protagonists that are relatable and lovable. Occasionally during climbing it can feel like your freedom of movement is limited, and controls will sometimes sabotage you with some unwieldiness and counterintuitive button placement. More of the environment has been made available for you to climb on, and the rope launcher can attach to nearly all ledges, so these small occurrences of flying off the rails are inconvenient at worst. But overall combat and movement feel great, and Assassin's Creed Syndicate's story is charming, while countless amusements will keep you lost in London for hours.

Syndicate's story is an intimate, personal tale like that of last year's Assassin's Creed Unity mixed with older Assassin's Creeds' tendencies to pack in the historical figures. The modern day elements are more toned down than they were in previous Assassin games, so much so that they're barely present. You spend all your time as Jacob and Evie Frye, assassin twins who come to London in 1868. Under the leadership of Crawford Starrick, the Templars have a stranglehold on the city, and a sinister gang called the Blighters run things to their liking.

Gang fights are wild, unpredictable, and tons of fun.
Gang fights are wild, unpredictable, and tons of fun.

The absence of any fiddling around in a present-day timeline is a boon to Syndicate's story, allowing laser-focus on the 1868 London plot. The story centers around the politics and policies of Industrial Revolution London, with Jacob and Evie fighting not only to dismantle the Templar conspiracy but also to bring justice and refuge to the city's downtrodden. Jacob and Evie also frequently fight each other, with disagreements about what it means to be an Assassin forming a tense undercurrent. Along the way, the two come into contact with a smattering of historical characters--ranging from Alexander Graham Bell (who gives the game's best items) to Charles Dickens and Karl Marx--making the Fryes tangential and sometimes integral to the great successes these individuals achieved. These interactions fit neatly into Syndicate's overall flow, and while it does seem like these figures are packed in a little too tight, the game gives breathing room to each individual story.

London feels alive. Towers breathe smoke into the sky, stations bustle with passengers and passing trains, the homeless burn fires in trash cans in alleys, and stray cats pause to look at you while you lie in wait for your target. Bystander AI can be overdramatic at times, cowering in fear indefinitely after witnessing you murder someone in front of them, but those visceral reactions are what make starting fights in public such a delight. You throw a punch in a marketplace and crowds immediately vacate the area, fleeing from your wrath. Little boys and women run and scream as you sink your blade in someone's throat. NPCs also yell at you when you loot bodies, bid you good-day as you walk by, and make whispered comments to companions about your looks. And piled on top of it all is a brilliant soundtrack, a seamless sea of tunes that capture the sadness of the poor and the determination of the Fryes. In one instance, as you climb a spire to a viewpoint, a soft soprano-and-string number kicks in, painting a picture of melancholy for the past and hope for the future. Sights and sounds combine to create an irresistible portrait of London, and make exploring for every side quest and collectible an enjoyable experience.

This doesn't look good at all.
This doesn't look good at all.

Moving and fighting in London is also a satisfying experience, at least when controls cooperate. Combat is fluid and simple and relies mostly on the D-pad, on which directions are mapped to attack, counter, stun and shoot. If you're quick, you can punch in combos that knock enemies over and trigger some final execution moves that are brutal and beautiful. It's undeniably satisfying to chain hits and kills until you're bopping around between enemies in a gang war, flying along a circle of combatants and systematically bringing them to their knees in one fell swoop.

Free-running follows this same simplicity; hold down R2 while running and press one button to go up and another to go down. You can climb pretty much everything in London with relative ease, with the city's gorgeous details offering compelling arguments to eschew fast travel. But these controls take some time getting used to and feel counterintuitive, especially while climbing. Sometimes you'll kick off a wall when you meant to climb up or go up when you try to go down; this imprecision has characterized the series controls from the start. But in Syndicate this imprecision is infrequent, and while the controls aren't perfect they do feel much better and more fluid.

Gone are the days of snapping to cover and blending into crowds. In Syndicate, a white "Threat Ring" appears around your assassin when enemies are near. Markings on the ring show you where enemies are relative to your position, which is helpful when you're crouching in an area and can't see much. This tool makes stealth much easier and allowed me to gauge who to take out first based on how close they were and whether they'd noticed me. Then you can determine which tools to whip out of your belt, be it electric bombs or throwing knives. Do I smoke bomb this group and take out the leader under cover? Or do I just escape to a rooftop and pick them off one by one with throwing knives? Or better, make them turn on each other with hallucinogenic darts? The tools at your disposal and how you combine them is entirely up to you, and Syndicate's mission design offers ample breathing room to complete each mission in your own way.

The only thing that matters here is that corgi in a purse.
The only thing that matters here is that corgi in a purse.

I can recall only using Syndicate's fast travel points three times during my entire playthrough, because with the rope launcher in your toolbox, why would you take any other route through London? The setting is so lovely, and zipping across the city like a Victorian Spider-Man makes you truly feel like the city's protector, dropping to the streets every so often to air assassinate someone. In addition to setting up aerial kills, using the rope launcher instead of fast travel allows you to organically stumble upon one of London's many sidequests and make a pit stop for extra cash. Many times, on my way to a story mission, I would zipline over a side mission and think, "Why the hell not, I'm here!" One tool helps you traverse, discover, escape, and assassinate. The rope launcher is the thing this franchise so desperately needed, and now that it's here I don't ever want to be without it.

I always feel bad for the horses in these situations.
I always feel bad for the horses in these situations.

Another new mechanic is the ability to drive carriages. I found Syndicate's vehicles relatively easy to handle. You can also do any number of things with these carriages, including hijacking them for your own purposes and hiding bodies in them. One string of side missions involved collecting wanted criminals for a policeman; I would knock them out, steal a carriage from an unwitting bystander, put the body in the car, and then drive away. In some instances the rival gang has carts on the road as well, which can devolve into some hilariously fun Grand Theft Auto-style chases. You can ram carriages as they ride up next to yours or climb up onto your own carriage’s roof to engage in fisticuffs with enemies. Hijacking moving carts is thrilling, and destruction is encouraged. There's an experience perk you can earn for destroying street lamps and other public property, so don't be shy about running people over.

Combat, grand theft carriage, and bounties all play into the game's main story, and you'll be tasked with doing all of these things over the course of Jacob and Evie's adventures. While you can switch between the twins on the fly when playing side missions, you'll be locked into playing as a certain twin for specific story tasks. Each chapter has dedicated objectives for both Jacob and Evie. Jacob's tasks cause more mayhem and utilize his talent for close-quarters combat as he seeks to bring justice to London's underdogs, often resulting in explosions and other destruction. Evie's missions mostly require sneaking around without being detected. Her objectives feel closer to the traditional Assassin's Creed story, and you'll spend time with her doing the order proud while Jacob makes a mess of everything and invests in creating his own gang, the Rooks.

"Yes, he's like this all the time."

In addition to differing personalities--with Evie constantly reprimanding Jacob while he rather humorously bumbles around achieving his squad goals--the twins have different unique skills that tie into their interpretation of what it means to be an assassin. Evie's special skills are stealth-based, with one incredibly useful ability allowing her to disappear completely while she's standing still in sneak mode. She can also hold twice as many throwing knives as Jacob and her stealth stats far exceed her brother's. She'll be the one you take with you on bounty hunting and liberation missions. Jacob is more suited for gang wars, a brawler who takes less damage and, with all skills unlocked, can bring enemies to near-death states quicker. Their differences are noticeable in gameplay, and rather than have one character you can customize either way, it's a brilliant touch to have two characters ready and available for different kinds of missions at any given time.

I cannot stress enough how deeply likeable and relatable Jacob and Evie can be. Evie is serious but sweet, tough in battle but willing to pick up the scattered papers of a stranger she bumps into on the street. She acts more like an older sister than a twin, bossing her brother around and openly deriding his more destructive decisions. Jacob is goofy, flippant, cheeky, and is more concerned about his gang and toys while his sister fulfills her oath. He makes fun of Evie's belief in ghosts and her willingness to help everyone they meet, but under all that snark it's clear he loves his sister. Their banter is sweet and at times funny, and while they are two separate entities when it comes to combat, they truly feel like two parts of the same whole. Their story is a powerful one, about duty and family, and the ease with which they communicate and the believability of their relationship showcases the draw of Syndicate's narrative. Add to this a supporting cast filled with diverse, equally believable characters, and Syndicate feels a little bit like being at a party with all of your friends.

The first rule of fight club is Evie Frye always wins fight club.
The first rule of fight club is Evie Frye always wins fight club.

In addition to leveling up Jacob and Evie, you can level up their green-clad gang, the Rooks. I became obsessed with tricking out my gang, because having strong fighters on the streets mean you'll always have backup in a fight. Using in-game currency, you can unlock perks for your gang, such as sturdier carriages and cheap access to hallucinogenic darts. You can even pay off policeman to turn a blind eye to some of your illegal activities and assemble an army of children to bring you crafting items on the streets. Micromanaging your gang is worthwhile because it completely changes your experience in London. Having this extra layer to deal with keeps you engaged in activities outside the main story and is another fun way to leave your mark on the world.

Syndicate's story is a riveting tale of compassion and greed, but the mechanics of its climax don't carry enough urgency and drama. A final boss fight usually tests the skills you've learned throughout the game, but Syndicate's is a memorable for the wrong reasons. It's an anticlimactic scramble through moving environmental obstacles to reach the boss and trigger a quick time event. This sequence of events happens several times in order for you to beat the encounter. It's a frustrating setup that tosses all narrative tension out the window.

But a disappointing final fight and some control hitches can't diminish the charms of Assassin's Creed Syndicate. The game is a triumphant return to form for the franchise, and presents a beautifully structured tale with heart and soul to spare. Ziplining through London is thrilling, and the game allows you to organically discover missions and leaves you open-ended solutions lets you to create a meaningful, personal experience within its world. Coupled with strong, loveable leads and a seemingly endless procession of ways to leave your (fictional) mark on London's history, Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a shining example of gameplay and storytelling.

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Now Playing: Assassin's Creed Syndicate Review

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+
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The Good

  • Excellent world design allows organic discovery of missions with open-ended solutions
  • London looks gorgeous
  • The rope launcher tool is a game-changer for traversal and stealth
  • Building up your gang is rewarding and satisfying
  • Masterful soundtrack captures the hope and despair of the setting
  • Wonderful story led by two of the strongest protagonists in the series

The Bad

  • Final boss battle is frustrating and kills the drama
  • Sometimes controls can be imprecise

About the Author

Alexa Ray Corriea has made it a point to never miss an Assassin's Creed game. She finished the main campaign of Syndicate along with enough side operations to net 75 percent synchronization for this review.
1185 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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artshpakov

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Having beaten the game, I'd say its somewhat 7/10 -- a decent formula iteration, but kinda uninspired one. Writing tends to get slightly better during the latter chapters, though.

Music is another issue - it's really good and I appreciate they go towards more chamber orchestra instead of a usual Zimmer-like bombastic generic score everyone does nowadays. But sadly, Wintory's score lacks some major theme(s) that would hold the whole thing together. Kyd's theme cameo is still the most memorable thing when it comes to music. Maybe it'll grow on me later, dunno.

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salmon71

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Edited By salmon71

Besides the point if you like the game or not, I've seen more glitches in this game than with Unity, such as people floating or stuck in the ground, during fight my "rook" would freeze and stay there but his gun is gone, women cleaning street would slide in and out of the wall, my enemy comes to kill me but instead walking on the air and nobody can shoot or touch and she just walk straight out of the train station, I fell of the ground and died, game not restart, the list can go on ... The controlling are frustrating, sometime it seems hard to get off the wall and the characters seem to over steering too easily ...

But one strange thing is most of the thieves in Syndicate are women and all of them seem to be rich people. While in Unity all thieves are bumps and they are men.

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SixiangEien

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The game was actually pretty good. I dunno why people are saying that this review is so false.

In Syndicate there are so many things that set it apart from the other games and proves just how great it is. The mechanics make the game more challenging and less repetitive. So instead of the easy counter and assassinate or break defense and kill, you have to actually fight your opponents. The guards and even gang members are not bubbling idiots like the usual ones in games and will be able to see you almost instantly given your position.

I think one of the only things about the game is that it had more potential to erupt feelings (i.e.: Shaun reminiscing about Desmond) but failed to do so. Shaun could have showed a bit more emotion when he talked about Desmond instead of dryly speaking about it. A lot of other elements in the story were a bit easy to spot too that pretty much threw off the game's suspense, but other than those factors the entire game is amazing compared to most of the games I've played up to now.

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megantereon

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Don't be mislead by this review. The game is OK, and good like other AC games, but it is a dumbed down AC stuck on beginner level. The AI are very stupid in this game and completely ignore you when they should be alarmed. There is no multiplayer so you will play this once and throw it out, so wait until a price drop. I would give it a 9 if it was $10, but for $60 game it should have a more interesting story, better AI, and a multiplayer so you have a reason to play after the campaign. There are too many other games to spend $60 on first. I purchased this game partly after reading this review and regret not waiting for a price drop which will be soon I bet.

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Mezzanine58

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So... why is Gamespot not removing the 37 1-star reviews from all the little kiddies who are throwing their toys out of the pram? I haven't even played this, and don't intend to until it's much cheaper, but come on, this again??

And seriously, if you're one of those who do it, you are absolutely pathetic, your life is waste and you're an embarrassment to your family.

You're not helping anyone, you're not helping the hundreds of normal, hard-working, innocent people who developed this or any other game. If you want to complain, complain directly to the board and the people at the top. Or better yet, just stay silent and don't buy it. But by giving false reviews you are DIRECTLY putting people out of work. And yes, that's right, that feeling is called 'shame'. If you aren't feeling it, you're a f**king monster.

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deactivated-59e0c3e2b083b

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@mezzanine58:
"[...]Or better yet, just stay silent and don't buy it."
+10.

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PrinceEV

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guess you're having lots of fun with the money from ubi. right ?

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Florin

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@princeev: no, but she had fun with the game from Ubisoft.

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hmoobpaladin

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Still the same game just with a palette swap and with less customizations.

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depman1972

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One thing I have noticed on this page is a lot of the comments appear to be from ubisoft haters.

Either the members bashing below are immature teenagers that still have years to grow up properly, or they just like bashing ubisoft games.

Everytime I come on this site and I read something about ubisoft its full of posts of people bashing them, the user score is probably trolled by ubisoft haters trolling the score.

They always make great games, so the ballsed up on unity, they solved it eventually didnt they.

I can assure anyone that is interested in this game, it is fantastic, all my friends on facebook that have bought it are all raving about it as to how great it is.

So ignore the haters on this thread, and listen to someone who is real, I am a hardcore gamer, this is a good game.

and deserves a 9, the female author does not deserve sexist comments either by immature teen boys either who are clueless.

She is correct on review, her gender has nothing to do with it.

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depman1972

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This game is awesome, lovin' it atm, much better than unity.

This just might be my favourite AC in the series so far.

2 • 
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Townfool

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Do you guys listen to what you type??

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Domiddian

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@Townfool: Do you?

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ughz

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I skipped rogue and unity but this one might actually be decent. Of course there's no way in shit I'm ever buying it on uplay or steam, where it never decreases in price ever, so it will be at least until the next Ac is announced before I do.

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VANGUARD003

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Edited By VANGUARD003

This review kinda bugs me. It basically summarizes what an Assassin's Creed game is and then says it's good. That would be a fine review if this wasn't the 8th(?) game in the series released on a yearly basis, but it is, and this review doesn't acknowledge that context. Why isn't there more comparison to the past game or two? Has the game actually fixed any of the problems that plague the series, or is it yet ANOTHER AC game that does the exact same thing in a new location?

Admittedly, hearing that they mostly cut the modern day plot was nice to hear--I've been thinking it's been irrelevant for a while now. But what about the combat? Has the game changed at all in any meaningful ways in relation to previous games in the series? I just feel like it's unnacceptable for a game critic to describe an AC game and then give it a great review these days without talking about what makes it seriously DIFFERENT.

On their own, pretty much ALL AC games are amazing, but they've been doing the same thing for MANY years now. Please acknowledge that in a critical review.

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OHGFawx

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I'll get it sometime next year during one of the lulls in new releases. My excitement for this franchise has all but evaporated. Originally they said there would be a modern day story again, but I'm hearing no mention of it in this review.

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adro191

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Not sure why people think waiting for price drop is any cheaper than buying new game then selling it few weeks after finishing it, buying game for £40 then selling it for £34 few weeks later after completing it.

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Validifyed

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@adro191: PC gamers dont have that benefit, its one of the few downsides.

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zombievac

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Edited By zombievac

@validifyed: Yeah, those of us who have a PC get it on release day for $45, or $25, if you know where to buy it (not directly from Steam or UPlay, that's for sure!). I play PC games on release day, and NEVER PAY anywhere near $60 except in very rare cases like GTA 5 which was worth more than $60.

The ability to buy and sell used console games has nothing on just being able to buy games at the price the market will bear, on PC, through 3rd party Steam/Origin/UPlay resellers.

I just got AC: Syndicate for $37 on release day, PC version - yeah, Ubi delayed the PC version of this one for a month, but that's a rare scenario and even if it came out at the same time I woulda paid approx the same. I don't wanna say where because people will just call me a shill for a reseller, but check the discount CD key sites. They're completely legit, since region-locking is a thing of the past.

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Validifyed

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@zombievac: Just going to wait with AC Synd, not exactly racing to play it lol. On this topic though I "apparently" bought fallout 4 for £20, Im just waiting to see if the company sends me my code when its due now lol.

Personally I am of the position that if a game is good, you can pay a great deal of money on it and still get ridiculously good value from it (eg Skyrim, £40 for the DLC and game, about 300 hours played, price per hour is super low), whereas AC Unity for example, similar price for the same game but only ~30 hours gametime. I consider this OK but far from great.

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mrgorgun

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Really sick of all the games being open world..what if i dont wanna run around a fake city killing people or doing whatever but following a solid story instead?

Also why the hell do games constantly need to be complicated..talents,crafting system,huge maps..does every game need to compete with WoW or GTA nowadays?

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Validifyed

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@mrgorgun: I was thinking something along these lines today; It annoys me that we are paying a lot more money now for these games that take forever to build and would work just fine in a linear game. Indeed usually the open world aspect just adds a level of tedium to the game like capture points that make the game easier to play.

Some games do it well. Bethesda's games for example. But this is because that is made the central aspect of their games. Games where they focus on something else and "just add open world b'cas" usually end up being worse games IMO.

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Kunakai

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@mrgorgun: If you don't want to play an open world game with crafting systems and huge maps, don't play open world games with crafting systems and maps! :P

Not every game does it but you're right about the fact that it's the genre right now. Personally, I love open world games with heaps of complexity, they allow for dynamic and unexpected events when executed well.

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Mogan

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Edited By Mogan  Moderator

@mrgorgun: I always found the AC games pretty easy to just main line and forget about the whole open world aspects of it. But I think AC games are open world because they've always been open world.

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brzuszkiewicz1

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Edited By brzuszkiewicz1

Iam liking it a lot. It reminds me of the old assassin creed games.

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Validifyed

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@brzuszkiewicz1: That is exactly the problem... lol

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Simon86PL

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Played it twice for an extended period of time at a domestic game expo (Warsaw Game Week) and I can assure you it's the same old shit you played for years now - meaningless fetch quests and collectibles, boring missions, imprecise and frustrating controlls and a simplsitic and stupid combat system you've seen in previous games. Don't waste your time with this.

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rayo_theking

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yesterday was 6.9 now it's 6.7 on Metascore .. yeah a solid 9 indeed :D

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idmah

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Hated Climbing towers in Ass#1 Hate it now.. What is this obsession with Towers???

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skipper847

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Has the PC version been delayed a month?.

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Jag-T1000

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Can somebody else review this game? How did this get a 9? It should be a 7.5 or 8 at the most.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@Jag-T1000: Why don't you be that somebody and write your own review? There are plenty of sites which allow users to post their own scored reviews, including this one.

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FkzAz

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I was so happy when i saw the 9 !!

Couldnt beleive it...

Then i scrolled down and saw it was a Alexa Review......

1 word poped in my mind..."f..k"

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kmetek1975

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this should be 7/8 top not 9.

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sev2010

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Edited By sev2010

@kmetek1975: even less than that.

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ranzikiel

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I played the game for more than 15 hours now. I do think it's somewhere around 8-9 score.

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sev2010

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@ranzikiel: I would say a 6/10

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PS2fweak

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Edited By PS2fweak

Wait a minute. I never care about low scores, but I'm not liking the way this 9 is making me feel(like I should try it).

I likes my GS to be at the bottom of the metacritic page. If the highest score is a 90, you aren't supposed to go higher than a solid 70. Why are you at the top with those losers?! Even Gametrailers gave it a 78.

I'm only somewhat joking. A game this polarizing probably shouldn't be earning a 9. It's a superb game? At least you got me interested in a new AC. I must see what's up with this "F to A student" game. It will either be great or the worst thing ever. I love buying games like this. It's like ordering food and knowing the two potential options are "delicious" or "poison".

Oh yeah, great review.

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iloveyourface

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i guarantee you if the protagonist was a man she would've given this game a 7.

polygon.

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phili878

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01:58 explains why 9/10. It has a love story and chicks dig romance and love stories ;)

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freeformrulz

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Its been 2 days and im still not over this dumbass review

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@freeformrulz: Probably says something about you. : \

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XenomorphAlien

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Almost 1000 comments! Haven't seen that in a long time!

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bjvill

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Well I hope they at least got the voice accents right this time...

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jlenoconel

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The reviewer basically gave this game a 9/10 because its "progressive." This is why I don't trust games journalists anymore.

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OXxSHAD0WxXO

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I dont see in ''the good'' :
-went back to assassin creed old (before ac3) control
-more customisation than ever before
-story and lore more fluid and logic (Desmond changing face and color skin the more the game advance xD ? immersion at it best )
-better pvp (for those who liked it i guess ?)
Oh and for fu**k sake i hope your game is working on launch, unity on steam was a disgrace .

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Assassin's Creed Syndicate

First Released Oct 23, 2015
released
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4
  • Stadia
  • Xbox One

Introducing Jacob Frye, who with the help of his twin sister Evie, will change the fate of millions in Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Rise to rally and lead the underworld to break the corrupt stranglehold on London in a visceral adventure filled with action, intrigue, and brutal combat.

9
Superb

Average Rating

692 Rating(s)

7.2

Developed by:

Published by:

Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
Blood, Drug Reference, Strong Language, Violence