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Assassin's Creed Syndicate review: A series gem, but the formula feels overly familiar

Hayden Dingman | Nov. 26, 2015
And the wheel in the sky keeps on turning.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate

The world keeps getting bigger, though. More detailed. It's the one consistent “improvement” every year, and Ubisoft boasts that Syndicate's London is the largest of any of the Assassin's Creed cities. Congratulations to the art team. Congratulations to the people who do research on the period. But it would be more impressive if there were anything to fill up that space besides half-hearted stabs at side content and a bunch of collectibles.

A note on bugs

It's worth officially codifying the game's bugs, too. Last week we took a look at the game and I concluded it's “Better than Unity.” That's a low bar, but I stand by it. It is better than Unity.

There are still issues, though. I had a few crashes to desktop, the load screens seemed to get exponentially lengthier the further I got into the game, AI companions would occasionally get locked in place and force me to restart from a checkpoint, the world turned completely white at one point, and a main story msision froze and then crashed every time a conversation ended. That last one is a known issue, and the only solution at the moment is to race to your destination before the conversation ends to force the next stage of the quest to load.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate
Playing Assassin's Creed on hard mode. The game looked like this until I exited to Windows.

So yeah, it's better than Unity, but you're still probably better off waiting a month or two for the bugs to get worked out. And in the meantime we've deducted an extra half-star from the score, because a game-breaking quest bug is pretty damn huge.

Bottom line

For all that I'm down on Assassin's Creed as a whole, Syndicate is at least one of the better entries in the series. And there is admittedly a certain charm to familiarity—a ritualistic quality, as every year I load up the latest entry and proceed through its bevy of re-skinned content. “Hello, old friend. Nice to see you again. My, you haven't changed a bit.”

But Assassin's Creed has long since been surpassed by its imitators, from Mad Max to Arkham City to Shadow of Mordor to Sunset Overdrive to Tomb Raider. What they lack in recreating a period of history, they make up for by offering something a modicum different.

Can Assassin's Creed change? I honestly don't know. If anything, Ubisoft has gone the opposite direction lately, with lots of talk about bringing the series “back to its roots”—as if it had ever strayed very far in the first place.

 

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