Tag Archive: assassin’s creed


I had a chance to at E3 2017 to take on one of the new features in Assassin’s Creed Origins–The Gladiator Arena. After two waves of enemies I then got to take on a hulking brute called The Slaver. In this video you can see some of the new combat in the game. Enjoy.

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Earlier this afternoon, EGM was able to confirm new details about the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection.

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood added a key feature to the series: being able to replay story missions. Revelations and later games in the series continued this trend, but it was absent from Assassin’s Creed II. Wondering if Ubisoft would go back and add this feature into The Ezio Collection to provide some uniformity across the trilogy, we asked Ubisoft if this would be an extra addition to the collection and if they could clarify.

In an on the record statement from a representative, Ubisoft told us “Assassin’s Creed II will not feature replayable missions. All games will have the same features that they had when they initially launched, but will have enhanced graphics.”

While it’s not unexpected that The Ezio Collection will do little more than bundle three games into one package add a graphical facelift, it’s disappointing to hear. Making that small change wouldn’t have been ridiculous, given that Ubisoft is already tweaking the games by removing features—namely all multiplayer modes.

Either way, if you want to replay a mission in Assassin’s Creed II in The Ezio Collection, it sounds like you’ll still have to start the entire game over from the beginning and work your way back to the point in question.

Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection will be available from November 15th on Xbox One and PS4.

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In Russia, Chronicles crush you!

Serving as the third and final game in Assassin’s Creed Chronicles, ACC: Russia has the unenviable task of bringing up the rear guard of this series of spin-offs. Although Russia fails in some regards to capture the spirit of the main series—much like its predecessors—it at least continues the maturation process we saw between China and India, and can stand proudly as the strongest of the three.

Set in 1918 during the height of the Russian Revolution, veteran Assassin Nikolai Orelov, protagonist of the Assassin’s Creed: The Chain and The Fall graphic novels, must take on one more mission for the Brotherhood before he escapes with his family to America. This mission is not an easy one, however. Nikolai has been tasked with infiltrating where the Templars are holding Czar Nicholos II and his family, and must retrieve Ezio Auditore’s infamous box—the primary narrative link between all three Chronicles titles. Along the way, Nikolai interferes with the execution of the family, leading to the youngest child, a teenaged Princess Anastasia, surviving and suddenly coming under Nikolai’s protection. With the secrets of the box revealed, Nikolai must escape the pursuit of both the Assassins and the Templars if he hopes to save Anastasia and get his family free of Russia.

Like its antecedents, ACC: Russia is a side-scrolling platformer that focuses more on the stealth aspects of Assassin’s Creed than anything else. Each level is broken down into subsections, where players are scored upon how effective they are as Nikolai. High scores lead to character boosts, and by continuously scoring gold in the Silencer (non-lethal takedowns), Assassin (lethal takedowns), or Shadow (no interaction with enemies whatsoever) disciplines, a score multiplier will come into effect.

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Where Russia shines compared to the two previous chapters of Chronicles is in the variety of objectives each level throws at you, and how you can accomplish them. While combat is still a detriment here—with Nikolai feeling relatively underpowered compared to his foes—there is a new array of items and tools at his disposal. Their inclusion will help you avoid combat more easily and better even the odds, making the stealth elements not nearly as punishing or predictable as in Russia’s precursors.

For instance, Nikolai has a grappling hook that he can send an electric charge through to disable light generators, electrify water (and the enemies standing in it), or even overload outlets—all undoubtedly benefits of the time period. There are also new distraction techniques like using telephones to alter enemy patrol routes, or firing Nikolai’s rifle to pick enemies off from afar or make noise to divert their attention when necessary.

The rifle also allows Russia to build on the sniper sections introduced in India. Here, however, they feel more natural, since Nikolai often has to pull his rifle out to cover Anastasia as she runs ahead. Speaking of Anastasia, there are even sections where you have to play with her and her far more limited talents, forcing you to push your stealth skills to the limits. This is a rare instance in this series where narrative actually led to more interesting gameplay.

The only downside to all these new tools was how everything was poorly spread out, as certain techniques—like being able to electrocute enemies—are introduced very late in the game, making them feel like an afterthought design-wise. As well, some of the level felt noticeably weaker in terms of design than others.

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A perfect example of this is in the chase levels. In ACC: China, when Shao Jun had to get through an area as quickly as possible while being pursued, it was one of the best elements of that game and it only seemed to continue on in India. The chase levels in Russia, however, are probably the weakest of the series, with old, plodding Nikolai being something of a chore to control in those moments. It makes sense for him to feel different than the other characters, but for those differences to make him feel inferior—at least as a parkouring assassin, because his gadgets definitely give him a leg up in other ways—might have made sense for the story, but definitely detracts from the experience.

One last disappointing element about Russia was the art style. India was the most vibrant and interesting world of the three games, and Russia may be the weakest. The Sin City-esque usage of grayscale with splotches of red do make sense for the setting, giving everything a downtrodden, depressing overtone. Unfortunately, they don’t work as well as intended, making many parts of the game somewhat painful to look at—especially when you get to the handful of indoor levels that are awash in color.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia is the best game this offshoot series has offered up thus far. Sadly, it still falls short in ways that have plagued the series from the get-go. However, if you’ve come this far with Chronicles, at least things end better than they began, with a compelling narrative, great gameplay variety, and ingenious uses of stealth that will reward those players who have stuck around.

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Developer: Climax Studios • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 02.09.16
7.5
Shortcomings that haunt the entire series remain here, but more gameplay choices and a compelling narrative make Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia the strongest of the three Chronicles titles.
The Good Largest variety of gameplay of the three Chronicles games, interesting story that ties well into greater AC universe.
The Bad Combat is still a chore, poor pacing.
The Ugly You can almost see the osteoporosis setting in on Nikolai as he sluggishly runs around.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia  is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Ubisoft for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

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Diamonds are forever

It’s not always easy to provide fresh takes on an established game universe—especially when it’s an annual release like Assassin’s Creed. This hasn’t stopped Ubisoft from trying to approach their crown jewel franchise from different angles, however, and one of their more recent attempts was in the form of the spinoff series Assassin’s Creed Chronicles. Forgoing third-person action adventure for a side-scrolling arcade-like motif, the first chapter in this series, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, left much to be desired. Nine months later, we now have the second chapter in that series, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India. While it’s improved on several of its predecessor’s shortcomings, enough issues remain to keep this title from being as notable as its open-world brethren.

Set in 1841, ACC: India follows Arbaaz Mir, protagonist of the Assassin’s Creed Brahman graphic novel and father to Jayadeep Mir, better known as Henry Green from Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. After being lost for nearly three centuries, a precursor box once owned by legendary assassin (and fan favorite) Ezio Auditore has once again emerged in Templar hands. The Templars believe the Koh-i-noor diamond—a known precursor artifact, and the focus of the aforementioned Brahman book set two years earlier—could be a power source for the box. Arbaaz must now prevent the two items from coming together, or risk unfathomable power falling into Templar hands.

On the surface, ACC: India plays similarly to China. Arbaaz must work his way through intricately-designed levels while platforming and parkouring his way past Templar soldiers. Each subsection of said levels are scored on stealth and combat efficiency, with the added bonus of high scores leading to character boosts and in-game rewards.

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There are some striking differences between the two games, however. The most noticeable from the get-go is how India is artistically divergent from China. A wide array of bright colors and floral patterns mark Arbaaz’s sword swings and dot the vibrant landscape as visual markers for you to follow through the levels—a stark contrast to the muted backgrounds with splashes of sharp red and black watercolors seen in China. This is, of course, also a welcome reflection of each setting and our respective protagonists, helping subliminally show their differences beyond what we see through the game’s limited dialogue and cutscenes.

ACC: India also offers more gameplay variety compared to its antecedent. There are several sections where Arbaaz will have to cobble together a costume in order to bypass heavily guarded gates, or use cannons and sniper rifles strewn about the conflict-laden region of 19th-century India to clear out and open up new sections of a level. This increase in interaction with the environment helps immerse players into Climax Studio’s version of India—even if Arbaaz’s adventures only begin to scratch the surface of what could have been done in the game.The varieties of objectives these interactions afford are also a nice respite from the constant sneaking the game otherwise promotes.

This leads us to one major weakness that both Assassin’s Creed Chronicles games have in common: combat. You have to be stealthy and sneak around everywhere, because much like China’s protagonist Shao Jun, Arbaaz Mir is easily overpowered if he ever finds himself in direct combat. Countering and blocking remain unintuitive; even with Arbaaz’s superior gadgetry and the returning Helix glitch system (that temporarily makes Arbaaz almost unbeatable), most of the time open conflict is the last place you’ll want to be. This makes Arbaaz feel extremely weak—a far departure from what we have come to expect from the protagonists of Assassin’s Creed—due to how limited your options feel when combat is all but removed from them.

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Also returning from ACC: China are the timed sections, where you have to get through a level as quickly as possible—stealth-be-damned—usually because Arbaaz just blew up something he shouldn’t have. Much like before, many of these levels are a highlight and we see more of them in India than in China. That’s good, because they not only provide more fun, but also lengthen ACC: India by several sequences when compared to its forerunner.

As good as many of them are, though, there are a couple that fail to understand the importance of speed in making them enjoyable. These levels usually require either a great deal more climbing, or stricter timing from Arbaaz’s movements, with platforms that swing, switch, or rotate in ways reminiscent of the puzzle-platforming levels seen in older, mainline Assassin’s Creed games. It’s hard to have a sense of urgency while you’re waiting for platforms to move back into proper position before you can continue on, obliterating any rhythm you’d hope to get into.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is an improvement when compared to the first chapter of this ancillary Assassin’s Creed series. It does a nice job filling in more gaps in the universe’s massive timeline, while uniquely linking itself to the previous tale, which took place 300 years earlier. It’s also a longer game, with a larger variety of gameplay to help keep things fresh, and its arcade scoring system provides some replayability if you’re into setting high scores. The combat and pacing still need some work, but the improvements seen from ACC: China to India make me at least remotely hopeful for what we can expect when ACC: Russia concludes the series next month.

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Developer: Climax Studios • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 01.12.16
7.0
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India learned from the missteps of its predecessor, as gameplay is more varied and its colorful, vibrant levels are both pleasing to the eye and fun to interact with in most cases. Open combat is to be avoided at all costs, however, limiting how you play the game—and some of the puzzle-platforming levels drag in term of pacing.
The Good Better variety to the gameplay, another story that helps fill in the blanks of the franchise’s timeline.
The Bad Direct combat still feels unintuitive and clunky, new climbing sections slow down pacing.
The Ugly Alexander Burnes sounds like a bad Sean Connery impersonator.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Ubisoft for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

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Rumors surfaced this morning detailing the next main entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise and hinting that Ubisoft would be moving away from annual releases in the series.

The rumors first appeared on 4chan by a poster claiming to be a developer working at Ubisoft. The post explained that there would be no Assassin’s Creed release this year, in part due to the ambition of the game, which is supposedly going for more of a “Witcher feel” in terms of world size and scope. They also said that the new project looks to be set in ancient Egypt, will bring horses and boats back, and is being spearheaded by the team that brought us Black Flag. The posts were compiled conveniently on NeoGAF.

As the day went on, gaming news site Kotaku chimed in, claiming their sources confirmed some of those details to be true. According to Kotaku’s sources, this new Assassin’s Creed, codenamed Empire, will be set at least to some degree in Egypt, and would indeed not be coming out until 2017, giving the series more time to cook after the disaster that was Unity. No word yet on time period, but if we were to wager a guess, we would say the time of Cleopatra and Alexander the Great if the 4chan poster’s comment on this starting a new trilogy that would move to Greece and Rome holds any weight.

Considering the recent history of leaks with Assassin’s Creed, the odds of all this being true are strong. It also makes a ton of sense.

Many have complained about feeling franchise fatigue when it comes to Assassin’s Creed, mostly due to the low-water mark that was Unity. Although last year’s release, Syndicate, was a marked upswing—courtesy of new developer Ubisoft Quebec—it still featured a fair amount of bugs and glitches that have become commonplace in the franchise. If Empire has indeed been worked on since 2014, though—and is getting an extra year of development—it could be Ubisoft’s attempt to both alleviate the aforementioned fatigue and address the glitches that have started to become synonymous with the series.

Ubisoft also doesn’t have to worry about the franchise leaving the public consciousness. The Assassin’s Creed movie comes out in December 2016, and the final two chapters in the Chronicles spin-off will come out over the next six weeks. Plus, there’s a potential Assassin’s Creed Collection on the horizon, which was revealed after Ubisoft recently registered the website domain “assassinscreedcollection.com”.

In terms of Ubisoft’s fall lineup, several titles could be plugged into the hole that no Assassin’s Creed would leave, including potentially For Honor, Ghost Recon Wildlands, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, and even possibly Watch Dogs 2—which Kotaku also reports is rumored to be set in San Francisco.

As EGM’s resident Assassin’s Creed fanatic, this seems like a smart play from Ubisoft. Considering we’ve had six straight years of Assassin’s Creed experiences that have only grown larger and more complex, the idea of taking a year off to polish what—if the 4chan poster is to be believed—will be the most ambitious entry yet has me excited for the series in a way I haven’t been in a long time. Plus, if the team behind Black Flag is indeed working on it, this only bolsters my hopes that everything from these rumors and reports is indeed true—as Black Flag was, in my opinion, the best entry in the series since Assassin’s Creed II. This move gives the franchise’s biggest fans time to be excited again, and not have the series thrown in our faces around the clock.

Now, we just have to hope Ubisoft comes out and confirms everything we’ve heard today.

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A jolly good time

Assassin’s Creed is one of gaming’s constants. Like a sports title or Call of Duty, the Assassin’s Creed series has maintained a high-level of quality on an annual basis for a long time now (since 2009) and has turned into a solid go-to for everyone who needs a regular action-adventure fix. Until last year.

Assassin’s Creed Unity dropped the ball in terms of what people expect from the series in terms of gameplay, narrative, and general design, putting an unusual amount of pressure on 2015’s annual entry to right the course—or risk potential ruin for Ubisoft’s crown jewel. Luckily, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate does indeed strike true with its hidden blade, plunging the series back into the conversation for favorite fall games after jettisoning multiplayer and focusing on trying to put together the best single-player experience possible.

Once again, players assume the role of an Initiate, using their hacked Helix—a home entertainment version of the Animus that allowed you to relive ancestral history in the franchise’s early games—to help the Assassin Brotherhood in their search for Pieces of Eden that can turn the tide of their struggle against the Templars back in their favor. This time, you are sent to Victorian Era London, and for the first time in the series, you can freely switch between two protagonists as you step into the boots of the young, brash, yet highly effective Jacob and Evie Frye.

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If nothing else, this is one of the more memorable narratives the series has seen yet. Jacob and Evie not only have a great rapport with each other, but each has their own separate arcs that watch them grow and change in different and compelling ways. Jacob’s brashness and charm sometimes goes too far, and Evie’s single-minded approach to things costs her in ways she doesn’t necessarily realize in the moment. Each of their respective decisions has consequences on their lives—as well as the lives of those they’ve sworn to protect in London—and will keep you entertained throughout. The siblings even play differently, with Jacob being a plodding bruiser, and Evie the truer, stealthy assassin, with many side missions offering you a choice of who to play as.

Upon arriving in London, Evie and Jacob have a singular purpose: to bring down Templar Grandmaster Crawford Starrick. His crippling grip on London’s infrastructure has made the Templars strong, so the goal of breaking it makes playing the game far more interesting—especially when the Frye twins handle Starrick in their own one-of-a-kind ways. A strong, clear counterpoint to our respective heroes is something the series has lacked since the Borgias butted heads with Ezio and the narrative flows more smoothly from it.

The only point where the narrative stumbles at all is in the present day aspect of the series. Your Initiate character again remains chained to the Helix for the entirety of the game. While you do get a larger glimpse into the present day, meeting new assassins and seeing old friendly faces like Shaun and Rebecca from the Desmond days, things unfold as little more than long cutscenes.

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Playing around in the present day—last available to us in Black Flag—was beneficial in that it afforded a brief respite from the intense situations of the main game, with puzzles and conversations giving players the chance to catch their breath and let what just happened to them sink in more. It also aided the pacing of the game, allowing for drastic movement in time in a more cinematic way. Because we don’t have that here, we really see all of Syndicate play out in what feels like a few days, and at that point, why even bother with the idea of breaking up story beats into “sequences” besides as a cute reference to early titles in the series?

And since I mentioned puzzles, I do wish those would return to Assassin’s Creed. There is one puzzle in all of Syndicate, and another scavenger hunt for legendary armor. At the very least, in order to mix up the gameplay a bit, there is a special sequence that unlocks about halfway through the narrative that fast-forwards us in time to a World War I London about one-third the size of the Victorian Era one. It’s an extremely fun twist that doubles as a critical chance for moving the present-day story forward—unlike the weird, minigame-esque time jumps we saw in last year’s Unity.

And speaking of Unity again, I do have to mention there are some major, welcome differences between Syndicate and its predecessor that are clear indicators of the series being back on track. One of those is the setting, but I’m not just talking time or geography-wise. 1868 London feels more alive, more vibrant, and more like its own character than late-18th century Paris ever did. NPCs call out to Jacob and Evie with unique dialogue as the duo runs around town. Train stations are bristling with life as people rush to the platform to get on trains that actual speed around London. And, the addition of horse-drawn carriages mingling with pedestrians on city streets gives the illusion of authentic hustle and bustle that you’d expect from the heart of the civilized world.

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The most impressive aspect of this digital London, however, is how each section of town feels truly inimitable. Whether slumming it near the asylum in Lambeth, or sipping tea at 10 Downing in Westminster, London’s districts give off a specific tone that makes it easier to navigate and, again, feels more authentic and alive.

Speaking of navigation, Syndicate adds a lot on this front. The previously talked about carriages are hijackable and everywhere in London. The map may be massive, but who knew two-horsepower could get you across it so quickly. The handling of the carriages does take some time to get used to due to their wobbly nature, but with enough practice, you’ll be racing down London’s streets in no time and covering distance faster than in any Assassin’s Creed game to date.

Not every situation, or space for that matter, is ideal for a horse drawn carriage. This means that the series’ traditional parkour returns, and feels as smooth as ever. The addition of tapping the left-bumper to hop in windows, combined with what feels like more intuitive transitions between last year’s up and down movements, means scaling buildings has never felt better.

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The biggest upgrade to traversal, though, may be the much talked-about rope launcher. London’s most famous towers and buildings now can be scaled in a fraction of the time when you get close to their base, or you can swing across the city’s wide avenues when firing the rope launcher from rooftop to rooftop. Unlike the carriages and traditional parkour, I thought this new piece of equipment needed a bit more work, though.

For starters, the rope launcher has no aiming reticle, so you often lack the precision you’re looking for when using it, especially when moving horizontally. Also, there’s no clear definition of how far you can fire the rope launcher, or what edges you can latch onto with it and which ones you can’t. Just “eyeing it up” gets tiresome, especially if trying to make a quick escape—so the rope launcher definitely needed to either latch onto anything, or be something that should have offered clearer working parameters. The in-between ground the device found is okay, and when it works it works well, but you’ll be on top of a church asking yourself why you can’t just launch down to a building below way too often.

The rope launcher isn’t just for navigation, however. While it doesn’t come into play in direct combat, it’s great for creating stealth opportunities when looking to assassinate someone via the air. By creating a zipline between buildings or across a courtyard, Jacob and Evie can position themselves directly above their targets and drop, blades drawn, onto their unsuspecting victims. A new “kidnap” mechanic also helps players be stealthy. By slowly approaching an enemy from behind, our heroes can wrench their prey’s arm and guide them around guard patrols, using them to make it seem like they actually belong and not drawing the ire of nearby foes. If you wander too close to an enemy, however, the ruse is lost. These are just a couple of new ways you can infiltrate enemy spaces and minimize your risk of being detected, and more options are always a good thing when trying to be sneaky.

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Combat has also seen a marked improvement in Syndicate. New offensive weapons like the “Voltaic” stun bombs and hallucinogenic darts—which make enemies temporarily fight on your side—allows you to whittle down enemy numbers before a full-blown fight erupts. Once melees do ensue, taking on a horde of guards at once can still prove difficult, but combat isn’t nearly as punishing as it was in Unity thanks to the return of the counter. Even better, a much clearer counter window allows Jacob and Evie to pull off some spectacular combinations that lead to supremely cinematic, bone-crushing multi-kills when several opponents are all near death.

Whether the gameplay is new or old, one thing Syndicate also does well is ease players into its mechanics. Side activities like fight clubs and carriage races are great opportunities to practice driving and fighting, while the Gang War missions—Jacob Frye’s one-man march towards unifying the underworld of London under his banner—freshens you up on old techniques, even if they have new twists or if your hidden blade happens to be a bit rusty.

The Gang War side content also acts as a great way for players to clearly follow their progression in the game. A bit like an RPG, Evie and Jacob level up as they unlock and learn new assassination abilities, weapons, and armor, including some specific to each character. As they grow, they can more easily handle enemies of higher difficulty. While it’s not impossible for a level five Evie to stealthily assassinate a level eight Templar, should the hit be botched, she’s more likely to walk away from that encounter if they are closer in level.

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With that in mind, the sections of London are similarly labeled, usually housing enemies of a level equal to the location, ranging from Whitechapel’s two up to Westminster’s nine. By freeing London borough by borough from Crawford Starrick’s gangs, both characters level up. Jacob and Evie each max out at level 10, and thankfully, they’ll both earn points toward reaching that goal no matter who you’re playing as. This paves the way for an easier time in the story, while also providing that satisfying feeling of accomplishment that comes from freeing the entire city from Templar control and snagging a couple hundred collectibles along the way—and which Unity made nearly impossible with its cluttered map and unclear progression system.

As good as Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is, it does share one familiar trait with Unity, however: there are a fair amount of bugs in the game. Syndicate froze up on me several times, mission objectives would glitch (forcing me to reload checkpoints), and both Jacob and Evie fell through the world or got stuck in walls far too frequently. It makes one wonder if the yearly Assassins Creed cycle is just too much for Ubisoft to handle, because—while not nearly as bad as Unity—this is back to back years where my gameplay was noticeably hindered at times due to technical issues.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a return to form for the most part for Assassin’s Creed. Sure, the removal of all multiplayer might ding the replayability of the title, but I’d rather have an awesome 30-40 hour experience that I’ll one-hundred percent once and be done with—which is what Syndicate is—than the feeling of being forced into online play to try and squeeze a few more hours out of it. Syndicate features a compelling story with great protagonists, some terrific gameplay, and a beautiful new world and time period to explore, which remains Assassin’s Creed’s calling card. If Ubisoft can just work out those last few kinks, Assassin’s Creed would be ready to truly take new-gen by storm. As is, Syndicate is a strong addition to the series’ ever-expanding timeline that should reassure fans who were questioning its viability after last year.

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Developer: Ubisoft Quebec • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 10.23.15
8.5

A fair amount of bugs and lack of a present-day scenario detract from what is otherwise a strong return to form for Assassin’s Creed. Syndicate touts not one, but two great protagonists, strong gameplay, and Victorian Era London is neck and neck with Renaissance Italy as the best place the series has been to.

The Good London may be the most impressive setting for the series yet. Strong narrative and gameplay.
The Bad Glitches galore. Lack of present-day scenario. Rope launcher could use some work.
The Ugly I wonder if PETA will come after Ubisoft for all the horses I killed during high-speed carriage chases.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is available on Xbox One and PS4 and is coming later to PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Ubisoft for the benefit of this review.

Hey there everyone. It’s been a long time, but I had a chance to get some extra footage of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate when I went to London, England, to preview the game. In this video, I played as Evie in Sequence 7 and took on the side mission “Stalk the Stalker”, where I help out train conductor Agnes with a problem. We see some rope launcher gameplay, some assassinations, some tailing, and even a quick look at Evie’s upgrade menu. Be sure to stay tuned as hopefully this is the start of me bringing this channel back to life. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will be out on October 23 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

I had a chance to play a chunk of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in a preview event in London several weeks ago and here is some of the footage from that gameplay time.

This particular video shows the first mission in Sequence 7 where Jacob Frye is in the middle of his manhunt for all of Templar Grandmaster Crawford Starrick’s lieutenants. While searching for a mysterious Templar codenamed “B”, Jacob uncovers the beginnings of a plot involving England’s Prime Minister.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will be available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC on October 23rd.

We all know that Ubisoft has gone on record saying they wanted to get back to the roots of the Assassin’s Creed series with Syndicate. It’s why they removed multiplayer and co-op, turning their sole attention onto the single player experience. Until I was able to go hands-on with a couple of the game’s early sequences last week at a special London event, however, I wasn’t sure just what that would entail.

Well, it meant we’d get what could be some of the most memorable characters the series has yet to offer. New villain Crawford Starrick, the Templar Grandmaster who has wrapped an iron fist around 19th century London, made his power felt right from the get-go of our time with Syndicate. A cruel, ruthless man, Starrick takes no prisoners when it comes to making sure things are done his way, and has zero tolerance for the Assassin Brotherhood.

His early emergence in Syndicate was a welcome sight, as it gives the Frye twins a clear and ever-present goal throughout the narrative. Eliminate Starrick and save London; not since Rodrigo Borgia and Ezio have the battle lines between Templar and Assassin been so clearly drawn. Nor have they been so fun.

Getting to Starrick is, not surprisingly, going to be very difficult. Between him and our would-be Assassin heroes are Starrick’s seven lieutenants, each in charge of a key part of what keeps London ticking. High-rolling bankers, members of Parliament, even the city’s most prominent crime boss all get their marching orders from Starrick, and only by drawing them out and removing them first from their respective territories will you have a chance of luring out the Grandmaster himself.

To do this, you’ll have to perform a variety of both new and familiar side quests. As an added bonus, many of these missions take advantage of the new mechanics introduced courtesy of the time period. For example, one set of side quests requires you to kidnap key Templar targets and then transport them via stagecoach across London for interrogation. Others missions more recognizable to fans of the series will require you to tail a particular target and listen in for information, or remove a certain number of Templar thugs from an area before claiming it in the name of the Brotherhood. Thankfully, new devices like the rope launcher make it easier than ever to traverse across rooftops or line up air assassinations in large, open courtyards.

Not all the memorable characters have aligned themselves with the Templars, however. Some of history’s greatest faces from the Victorian era have thrown in with the Assassins—although not all knowingly. Famed author Charles Dickens is a man about town, is as well connected as they come, and the Frye twins will surely use his contacts to ascertain vital information. Inventor Alexander Graham Bell provides the Frye twins with some of their greatest weapons and gadgets, as well as a kind ear to bounce ideas off of. Not since Benjamin Franklin or Leonardo da Vinci have we had such a colorful confidant standing side-by-side with the Brotherhood. And then there’s Henry Green, the Indian Assassin mentor who guides Evie and Jacob throughout their adventure and knows just where, who, and when to strike the Templars to cause the most harm to their cause. There’s even some comedy relief from Agnes, the train conductor, who maintains the Assassin’s locomotive base of operations.

Yes, you did not misread. Much like Monteriggioni or Café Theatre, the Frye twins have their own base of operations. And in fitting Industrial Revolution fashion, it’s always moving. Through a series of fortunate events, the twins come to acquire an entire train, and enlist the aid of its conductor, Agnes. From there you can collect coin from parts of the city you’ve liberated from Templar control, receive new quests, keep track of upgrades, and more.

But, of course, the most important characters in the game are the ones you play as, and Evie and Jacob are as different as they are similar. Jacob’s brashness and Evie’s thoughtfulness provide some brilliant banter between the two, whether in the company of others or on their own, planning their next movie. Their ever-growing personalities will surely influence you when it comes time to take control of one or the other while exploring the open world Syndicate provides. The other aspect of this is that they both play very differently, each with their own set of upgrades, equipment, and special abilities that can be unlocked as they level up by exploring and freeing more of London from Templar control.

There is still one more character that I haven’t touched on yet, though, and that is London itself. From its iconic architecture like Big Ben and St. Paul’s Cathedral, to the small alley markets teeming with life, London gives off a personality unlike any city we’ve seen yet from Assassin’s Creed. Each neighborhood truly comes across as unique, with stark contrasts that you can see and feel. You’ll instantly be able to recognize when you’ve moved from the seedier parts of town like Devil’s Acre or Whitechapel to the more affluent avenues of high society in Westminster or Buckingham. Syndicate’s London may be the most impressive city Assassin’s Creed has recreated yet.

If getting back to the early days of Assassin’s Creed was the plan all along for Syndicate, then from the two sequences I played, it could well be on its way to doing that. The team at Ubisoft Quebec seem to be crafting a narrative and a setting that looks to suck players in right from the start, and lead them by the nose through one of the deepest adventures the series has provided yet. We’ll just have to wait for October to see if it can follow through and deliver on this lofty promise.

 

I had a chance to go hands-on with the Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Gamescom demo recently, which allowed us to play as Evie Frye for the first time. The demo tasked us with eliminating Templar Lucy Thorne who has critical info on the location of the Shroud of Turin—one of the Pieces of Eden—and a prize that Evie has been hunting for some time at this point.

The demo also re-introduces us to the Blackbox Assassination Missions from Assassin’s Creed Unity. Evie has several opportunities at her disposal to try to get close to Lucy and make the kill.

For the sake of time, several inconsequential cuts were made removing some of Evie traversing through the environment (climbing buildings, sliding down every zipline with the rope launcher, etc.).

To get my full impressions of what I thought of the demo, be sure to check out my written preview from earlier in the week.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will be available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC on October 23.