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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ucolom

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These sites should really adopt a three reviewer system in the vein of old games magazines like Electromnic Gaming Monthly. One persons opinion is just not enough.

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loafofgame

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@ucolom: Who's going to pay for that? Also, there's a myriad of websites reviewing this game. Why do you need several opinions on one website? If you want more than one opinion, visit another website.

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sev2010

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@ucolom: true that brah

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sev2010

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Edited By sev2010

I don't understand what has gone into Gamespot's reviewers. I don't believe a 9/10 for this game! Come on! What you guys are doing is giving credits to an ip that most gamers are tired of, a series that is struggling with franchise fatigue! Jesus! How come, according to your website's standards, Batman gets a 7/10 and a game like this gets 9/10?! 9/10 is equal to almost perfect for God's sake! Is that a direction you want gaming industry to take? A direction towards linear story tellingly, uninnovative gameplays, and brain-dead AIs? If you give 9/10 to games like this, then I'm really sorry for those who refer to your reviews for their monthly game purchases. Get a grip Gamespot's reviewers. You're taking subjectivity to a whole new level.

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beowulf1211

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its websites like Gamespot that allows Ubi to milk this franchise. I've played Syndicate and its just OKAY. The graphics are on the blah side and so is the gameplay. Gamespot (probably gets paid) to rate this 9 and everyone flocks to buy it....keeping this work horse by Ubi churning. Its ridiculous and they need to take a break.

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kenundrum7

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Edited By kenundrum7

I am a little surprised with this score considering this weeks "The Point".

http://www.gamespot.com/shows/the-point/

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megamagition

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Hmm...

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toophat2014

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Edited By toophat2014

If your a fan of the assassin creed franchise you will be more then happy with this sequel as it takes the best of what AC has to offer along with some new fresh ideas to create a fun experience. I think this game lik AC Rogue also benefitted a lot from not having all that multiplayer junk AC Unity had and it shows as all the focus went onto the campaign and its gameplay and story as it should be so I am real happy on that point. While I will admit I do miss and like the idea of a true coop mode in AC not multiplayer mode considering the twins would have worked well with a true coop mode like that of the resident evil 5 title used but hey in the end considering the outcome of not having either worked out well so I am really happy for this sequel in the end and well worth the purchase for anyone and especially any AC fan.

If you want more AC it's simple buy it if not then simple don't buy it but please don't hate on the game just because your one of them people who want something completely different as if that is the case there are plenty of games out there to choose from let fans who want more AC enjoy this good and fun game.

3 • 
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heguain

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Hm. Weird user rating in MC and IGN is around 7-7.5. GS users trolling much?

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thecman25

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Edited By thecman25

@heguain: well people at ign r retarded

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Gbullet

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More of the same, repetitive - re-used, overdone. Will they ever stop making Assassin´s Creed? I honestly enjoyed the second entry and Black Flag...besides that all of them were mediocre, bland, boring games.

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loafofgame

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@Gbullet: I can't help but wonder why you played them all? Why did you play so many mediocre, bland and boring games? Or are you just presenting your personal assumptions as fact?

Also, this overused argument of repetition and lack of innovation plaguing the series is only applicable to a certain group of people, a group these games obviously aren't made for. This game will be thoroughly enjoyed and it will spawn another iteration. Like action movies, they're all the same with different colours, but people will eat them up, because a lot of people like the same. If you don't, just accept that this game wasn't made with you in mind. It's still a great action movie for other people. Solid 9 in their eyes.

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Gbullet

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@Gbullet: Also, we need a second-take review, like Gamespot used to do - have another reviewer review the game - preferably a non-biased one.

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Gbullet

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@Gbullet: Sorry to keep it going, but I just can´t take this - this game got a 9?! Really? Usually i don´t whine about scores and reviews, because they are an opinion of the person who wrote them, but still - a 9 for this mediocre generic game is criminal. Sorry.

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Florin

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@Gbullet: well, there are a lot of people who reviewed this game. it has 77 on metacritic, which is pretty good. are you so upset that she gave it a 90 and not 80 or 77? omg, she is human. Lets transform her into a robot.

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iGotaGame

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@florin

Um...do you work for Ubisoft or something, or are you just a super fan of AC and will but any game no matter how shitty it is? You've responded to so many comments, I'd swear this was a game you personally developed lol. The bottom line is, MOST gamers agree that this game does NOT deserve a 9 out of 10. It looks like it's averaging on 6.5 to 7. Why can't you accept that fact?

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Florin

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@igotagame: so i respond to what 10 comments from 900 and that makes me a Ubisoft staff? You just respond to 2 comments to me and said you read some more. How many more comments did you respond? What that makes you, especially since it seems that you are not interested in playing the game? :)) Btw, I came here to comment because I played 1,5 hour from it and the level of some comments that I found dissapointed me, so I have a reason.

What fact is there to accept? It has 90 from gamespot and others, 82 from ign and 40 from some others, with a metacritic of 77 and 71 from users, even with all the hate and you say that users rank it 6,5 to 7. What is your problem? I personally will rank it at 80, but Im too soon in the game. It can go at 90, it can go at 70. It happens. We are not robots and we can agree or disagree, but lets not make it by attacking the reviewer or by giving 1 to a game that people didnt play.

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iGotaGame

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Edited By iGotaGame

@florin

Everything else in your comment was rambling, however,

You asked: What is your problem?

I don't have a problem, but I feel like I have an obligation. I didn't attack the reviewer. I think she's cute! But, what are her qualifications really? These games are pricey...maybe you have tons of moolah to throw around but some of us don't; probably most of us don't. AC Syndicate? How much has changed in this game from Unity? A new setting and some new artwork- few new costumes? A new move? Cheesy dialogue? Wow...amazing...... AI is still laughable as a few people have mentioned, and the game probably has a shitload of glitches just like Unity did when it was released. Son what you have to understand is this is a risk of making bad business 'decisions'. Their decision was to create a clothing line rather than hire more staff to make great games.

It's really that simple.

Marketing is key. You can fool a lot of people, like yourself for instance. You don't even realize you're playing the same game over and over again, because they tell you how amazing the new game is-and you believe it, just because it's an Assassin's Creed game. They got the look right, the music right, the marketing right, but it's the same ol shit when it comes to the actual game itself.

Staying true to form shouldn't mean releasing the same game over and over again, but with Ubisoft, it does. I'm waiting for a new AC adventure, with a completely new story, with great dialogue, with a completely original design of the mission areas and landscape, and most importantly- tight gameplay. Well, that would be more work as they would have to design new architecture for the buildings and surrounding areas rather than use templates like they did with London for instance. More work would mean they'd have to hire more staff to keep up with yearly project timelines, since they're so fond of releasing half-baked games rather than taking the time to do it right and finish the job.

And that would affect their AC clothing line! What to do?

It goes back to the marketing...Make the game appear to be much better than what it actually is.

Greatness takes time dude...-ask Naughty Dog about it.

2 • 
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Florin

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Edited By Florin

@igotagame: Didnt encounter a bug in the first 2,5 hours of playing. I also just got killed 3 times in a row, so AI is ok for me. I understand that you want to criticise some business practices, but it has nothing to do with the fact that this game got a 9 and not an 8 or 7 from gamespot. I personally skipped 2 games in the series, but this seem ok so far. Not every game has to change the games. I appreciate the ones who do that, but if it doesnt happen, it doesnt stop me to enjoy a good game. That doesnt mean that I like how much are some games today and I try to not support some business practices, like dlc content or microtransactions. However, I dont go to dlc reviews and say that are bad just because I dont buy them. There are some people who enjoy them and thats fine. You shouldnt also criticise a game because you have a problem with their clothing line.

Also, this isnt the first series that has multiple games. Mario says hello. That means that I played every Mario game? No, like I didnt with Assassin s Creed, but until now I agree that Syndicate is a step in the right direction. Let me be fooled by markething and have fun with the game. Whats your problem with that?

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iGotaGame

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@florin

Son, this will be my last comment regarding this game, or any other rushed to the market game...

Comparing this to Mario is a child-like response...no offense.

Mario game development spans across 30+ years. Mario is nothing like Assassin's Creed, by the way...not sure if you've noticed.

I could go on all day but I won't. See italicized comment above...^

Enjoy your AC Syndicate and I hope you get your money's worth kiddo!

Have fun!

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Florin

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Edited By Florin

@igotagame: I see that you are very good at calling names, but nothing else. Start by not beeing so selective with what I say. The Mario comparasion came in the context that you criticised Syndicate to be almost the same like the last Assassins Creed game. Its age has nothing to do with the subject. If you criticise a game for doing a thing, you should criticise all the games for doing that thing, or it doesnt work like that for you? :))

So dad, son, fool, child, kiddo, bro, HATER I will let you continue to hate the game because it has a clothing line or for whatever reason you are inventing for yourself and I will go back and enjoy a good game.

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zintarr

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This review is why I am against the legalization of drugs.

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gamefreak215jd

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http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/assassins-creed-syndicate

I don't trust this review.

5 • 
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Florin

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@gamefreak215jd: you dont trust this review and you send us to a page where I can find another 4 90 reviews? do you realise that the metacritic score is 77, which means that the review is pretty close to the general opinion?

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newyorklottery

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How long before this game is marked down half price?

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downloadthefile

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I just don't believe this review.

5 • 
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Raven_swe

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Not surprised it got an 9. If you go back and watch one of The Lobby videos she talked good about the game and defended it.

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Undertow207

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Having now played this game for 16 hours, I can safely say there is no way in hell this game deserves anything close to a 9. Glad I rented it and didn't waste $60

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Gbullet

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@Undertow207: Same here - it is more of the same, boring, repetitive and re-used mechanics. It is just like any other Assassin´s Creed but with another setting, nothing else. Stay away from it if it is full price, i´d say wait until it´s 20 bucks or less.

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robchiang1990

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With Mr. Van Ord's departure, guess Ms. Corriea would be Gamespot's new AC expert and apologist when needed.

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lyhthegreat

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wow this gets 9 and Lis gets 6 for "bad ending"..cool...

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Florin

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@lyhthegreat: lis also got a 6,5 from ign. The opinions are all over the place with the episode. I didnt like the final decision, but outside of this, I really liked the episode.

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normanislost

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@Mercaptan: user reviews are utterly meaningless since haters give it 0 just because it's AC

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gamefreak215jd

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@normanislost: But Black Flag's 8.8 on the user ratings tab.

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Florin

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@gamefreak215jd: maybe things will get closer to the true in one month, but right now the rating reflects the haters position. they didnt even play the game and noted it with 1 the day before the game was launched.

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OHGFawx

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I'll get it once the price drops. AC just isn't interesting to me anymore so I'm definitely playing Fallout 4 before I move on to this.

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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