Tag Archive: assassin’s creed

After seven years of annual releases, the Assassin’s Creed series seemed to hit a wall creatively and technically. What had once been one of the more groundbreaking IPs of the last generation of consoles instead become formulaic, and even the most hardcore members of its fanbase were beginning to feel a bit fatigued. So, Ubisoft did something we don’t expect companies to do once their series goes annual: they took a year off. Now, I can’t definitively say how much that extra year of development helped the team that worked on Assassin’s Creed Origins. I can happily say, however, that it worked, and that Assassin’s Creed is back—not just in the literal sense, but in the sense that it’s again pushing the envelope of open-world action-adventure games like it did when it first debuted a decade ago.

Assassin’s Creed Origins takes fans of the series back farther than any other game has with its primary setting, as you’ll play as an Egyptian man named Bayek towards the end of the Ptolemaic Era (47 BCE to be exact). Bayek is the last of a breed of Egyptian protectors known as Medjay, but when he fails to protect his own son from a sinister threat lurking in the shadows of the country’s highest ranks of government and society, Bayek’s mission goes from one of protection to one of vengeance. With the help of his wife, Aya (who you also play as in certain missions), and other key allies, Bayek will slowly uncover the puppet masters—known only as The Order of Ancients—that have been manipulating Egypt from behind the scenes, while also potentially finding peace over what he has lost.

The story of Assassin’s Creed Origins is one of the most personal tales of the series, and Bayek’s journey (and subsequent transformation as a character over the course of the game) is easily the most complete since Edward Kenway in Black Flag. What drives Bayek is a visceral and easily-justified emotion, but his evolution as he explores the world, meets new characters, and ultimately comes to grips with his internal struggle while dealing with the obviously outward conflict against the Order is a beautiful thing to play and see unfold.

Bayek’s tale also succeeds in another pleasantly surprising way: it’s unpredictable. We know going in that Origins is a prequel to the rest of the series, that the game’s events will lead to the creation of the Brotherhood of Assassins, and of course you’re going to kill some people at some point. It could have easily drawn a straight line from the catalyst of Bayek’s rage—the death of his innocent son—to the formation of the Creed. Instead, how we get to that formation, and then what happens after we actually get there, was both shocking and tremendous fun to play. Seriously, it kept me on the edge of my seat for the entirety of my 30-hour playthrough.

The narrative also does a great job of referencing past games in subtle ways. These nods won’t detract from the experience if you’re new or have only played a couple of Assassin’s Creed games in the past, but definitely up the enjoyment factor if you’re someone like me who has played every main game up to this point. And, if you pay close attention, you’ll be rewarded by seeing how Origins fits perfectly into the chronology the series had established up so far, whether referencing the first assassin, Xerxes, or laying the groundwork for Altair, Ezio, and all the other assassins that would come after.

Origins isn’t just a return to the roots of the Brotherhood, however—it also brings back a key element from previous games that had slowly been phased out in recent iterations. Basically, you’ll get to play around in the modern era. Early in your adventure, you’ll step out of the latest version of the Animus and take control of Layla Hassan, an Abstergo employee with an axe to grind. In a real throwback, you control these segments from the same third-person viewpoint always used when inside the Animus. Layla’s story is unique in its own right, but just like Bayek’s, finds a way to fit perfectly into the Assassin’s Creed overarching narrative—it even makes that Michael Fassbender movie somehow make sense! In a way, Layla’s adventure might even be more important than Bayek’s, because it lays the groundwork for where the series can go from here.

While it’s great that this new Assassin’s Creed tale really seems to have righted the ship in terms of the narrative element of the game, what will really suck you in is all the brand new gameplay. Sure, you’re still going to skulk around in the shadows and use your hidden blade to assassinate people, and even some of the naval gameplay that really hooked people in Black Flag returns in designated sections (it’s really awesome sailing a trireme). But, I admit that I was very worried when we were first shown all the RPG elements being added to the game, with recommended levels for enemies and areas of the world, random loot drops, and potential grinds for resources to upgrade gear. After having played the story from beginning to end, though—and being allowed to craft my own Bayek through his three skill trees and adapt him to my personal playstyle—I think Origins strikes a brilliant balance between the action from the series we love and this new layer of RPG gameplay that has been introduced.

The biggest worry I think I had was the potential of being surrounded by enemies who were way higher levels than me and not being able to really advance through the game. Although the game does give you the freedom (after it takes you through your first assassination) to basically go wherever you want in the world, if you follow the main story, and then do all the side quests in each subsequent region, you should never have to worry about where your level will be. By the time you’re ready to move on, you should be right within that perfect range recommended on the world map.

Of course, this brings up the quality of the side quests. I will say that a fair amount of them do a good job of grabbing your attention while fleshing out the world and the characters. In fact, there are some side missions that are even more heart-wrenching than Bayek’s personal tragedy. It’s really easy to see an exclamation point on your HUD, learn the plight of the NPC, and then find yourself following a thread that’s several missions long, guiding you around the entire region before coming to a conclusion with a fat XP bonus, maybe a rare item, and a feeling of satisfaction.

However, in an attempt to fill the world with content and make sure you have enough opportunities to level Bayek up so as not to hit a wall in combat, there are a fair amount that felt like copy/paste fetch quests, too. This is an issue with a lot of RPGs, and not just Assassin’s Creed, and so I understand why they have to be there. Still, I could see some players getting frustrated by this fact and trying to stick to the main story, only to find they might have to do those quests for XP—and that’s when it might feel like a grind.

There’s a lot of content here in Assassin’s Creed Origins, though. Whether racing chariots, fighting in the arena, or completing side quests and main quests, Ancient Egypt is a busy place. Another way to avoid that potential XP grind is that everything in Origins gives you XP. Kill an enemy, find a new area, synchronize the world from a high point, clear an enemy barracks, finish one of the aforementioned missions, and so on, and Bayek is going to get stronger. In theory, if you really wanted, you could just run around and kill bandits to level up. Clearing a fort only nets an XP bonus once, but those soldiers will respawn at some point—or you can manually light a brazier in the fort to purposely call for reinforcements and more enemies to fight—and you can kill them again if you’d like. I also mentioned earlier that I beat the game in 30 hours, but there were still dozens of side quests for me to finish. And, after I finished the story, I was able to go back into the world and keep playing. In those 30 hours, I completed 93 total side and main quests and reached level 37, which was plenty for me to beat the main story.

So, even if some of those fetch quests leave a bad taste in your mouth, there’s plenty of other things to do in Origins—which leads me to the world itself. Ubisoft has crafted what is probably its most beautiful world here in Ancient Egypt, but it’s also easily the most massive. Every couple of regions feel like they could be the size of entire older Assassin’s Creed game, and the major hub cities Alexandria and Memphis, and even lesser cities like Philadelphia or Cyrene, are absolutely breathtaking. Whether it was the swamps around Krokodilopolis, the swirling sands around the pyramids of Giza (grave robbing the Pyramids might’ve been my favorite side activity), or even Bayek’s rural home region of Siwa, it never got old to just take a moment and look around at the world created here. And, if you want to get fancy, you can even take a picture in photo mode, then upload it for everyone to see.

Another worry some might have is spending a ton of time in your inventory now that a lot of enemies will drop gear for you to potentially equip. Luckily, I found the menu UI to be crystal clear, and comparing two items was as easy as just hovering over something in your inventory. Scrapping unwanted gear was also a great way to get crafting items like bronze and iron, and that made sure I was rarely lacking in the resources I needed to improve the strength of my hidden blade or increase my health by reinforcing my armor. I never felt like I was wasting time navigating the menus, and wish more RPGs had a system as straightforward as Origins.

Moving around in the world has also seen some changes this go around—although the improvements here are subtler than everything else I’ve talked about at this point. Bayek will still occasionally get caught on a rough patch of geometry in the world, but for the most part, it feels smoother than ever when climbing or parkouring around. In particular, more of the hand and footholds in the world are cleverly hidden this time, but in a way that makes it look like Bayek is accurately climbing a rock face instead of looking for conveniently-placed rocks jutting out of the side. It’s a tiny detail, but one that helps with immersion.

For combat, a lot of the buttons have been changed around. The default is now to assign your light and heavy attacks to the right shoulder buttons, and your new bow and arrows to the left shoulder. I ended up switching to the alternate control with those right shoulder button attacks being reassigned to the face buttons, because the right trigger for me will forever be how to climb in AC. Still, it’s nice to see the team trying different things, and the options are there to go back to something more comfortable if you feel the need to.

There’s also a new parry system, but I struggled to find the proper timing because it was never really clear when I was supposed to parry. I’m not saying we need symbols above an enemy’s head like in the Batman: Arkham games, but clearer tells could’ve helped here. I found it easy enough to get through the game on normal without having to parry almost the entire game, though, so that might be a system that needs to go back to the drawing board entirely.

As great as Assassin’s Creed Origins is, there are a few issues with the game, and although I’ve nitpicked here or there over the course of this review, there’s no getting around the fact that the game has some rough bugs. Sometimes the animation breaks, and you’ll end up with something that looks like a breakdancing flamingo in the middle of a pond. Or, Bayek will get caught on something he shouldn’t get caught on. Nothing crazy, mostly comical, but they’re there. Also, Alexandria is the biggest city in the game, with the most NPCs out and about at a given time, and occasionally there were some framerate drops while running through that particular city’s streets. Ubisoft had a review event for some folks to play the game on an Xbox One X (that I did not attend), and I wonder if that issue is remedied thanks to the system’s higher power, or even the PS4 Pro’s, as compared to my regular PS4.

Something that I don’t think can be fixed with more powerful hardware is some of the glitches on quests. There were easily half a dozen moments throughout the game where an NPC glitched so badly that I needed to restart the checkpoint. A lot of times they just wouldn’t go anywhere when I was told to follow them, or they wouldn’t follow me when I was asked to escort them. There was also a couple of times when the game wouldn’t recognize when I had achieved the condition to trigger the next part of the mission. The worst was when I died mid-mission on a late-game side quest where I was asked to undermine war efforts by stealing the formula for Roman fire from a nearby fort. Even still, no matter how many times I select it and try to restart the checkpoint, or even restart the game, Origins refuses to let me advance the quest—even when I achieve the objective I died on, which was to destroy some barrels full of the Roman fire. This was the only instance of this, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.

Now, considering again that I did 93 different missions, that means something went wrong often enough to be a notable nuisance for sure. Most of them were just inconvenient, and none of them experience-breaking to the point I couldn’t actually beat the game—still, I felt they needed to be pointed out, and hopefully there is a patch in the future that will smooth things out.

Despite these rough edges, Assassin’s Creed Origins has already cemented itself as one of my favorite games in the series. The world is gorgeous, there are a ton of things to do—so much so that had I not been reviewing this game, I could’ve easily sank another 10-15 hours in before touching the final missions—and the story is amongst the best told over the series’ history. Yeah, there’s some bugs, but it was impressive how the series was able to bust out of its slump and find a new way to evolve, making all those RPG elements their own in a way that feels fun and exciting. This was an epic adventure that was more than fitting for what serves as the starting point of the Assassin’s Creed storyline.

Publisher: Ubisoft • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 10.27.17
Assassin’s Creed: Origins delivers a robust experience that mixes up the traditional Assassin’s Creed formula in a way that’s fresh and fun to play—but which also harkens back to the series’ roots in some welcome ways, too. It marks an evolution fans might not have even known they were waiting for, delivering one of the best overall experiences we’ve seen yet from the series.
The Good A return to form in a game that explains so much about the series’ past while laying the groundwork for its future.
The Bad There are a lot of bugs, and I’m not talking about all the beetles and scarabs in the tombs Bayek can explore.
The Ugly That beard Bayek was sporting at the beginning of the game.
Assassin’s Creed Origins is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for PS4. 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.

If you’ve played Ubisoft games over the past decade, you’ve probably noticed a lot of parallels between their titles. From how the player character gets around to how a map is opened up, there are usually striking similarities to be found between franchises whether playing Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed, The Crew or a Tom Clancy title. It’s like an artist who paints in a particular style, or a writer that relies on certain narrative structure. This isn’t to say Ubisoft doesn’t break from their own mold at times (Child of Light, the Rayman series), but most times you can almost tell just by seeing a little bit of gameplay what’s an Ubisoft game.

And like any other art form, games can inspire people, and lest we forget, that can include other game developers. In an interview in the most recent EDGE magazine (issue #311), Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot talked about how two of the year’s most acclaimed games—Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild—seemed to utilize several gameplay mechanics that Ubisoft popularized.

“It’s interesting, because The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took a lot of things that existed in Far Cry and other Ubisoft games, but did them perfectly,” Guillemot said. “I think the most important thing is not the systems as they are, it’s how they can be perfected; how they can give the player the best experience possible.

“The same system can be in two games, and not be seen as the same thing. The job, really, is to make sure that you have a certain number of possibilities and that you are able to combine them in such a way that provides a great experience. When systems are similar, it’s because developers have not been able to take full advantage of what those systems could bring.

“When a system is really good at providing fun, the team knows that that will work—and at the end of the day what counts is the experience. But we are taking more and more time on our games so that they are very different from one another. That has always been the objective. But if you look at many of the games that are being launched—even the last Sony game, Horizon: Zero Dawn—again, they took some of the same systems that we have. Because, in the industry, we always look at other games and other publishers. A game is very complex, so it helps us to provide a good experience.”

Of course, Ubisoft did the same thing themselves recently with Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle, which saw many of its game mechanics inspired by 2K’s XCOM series. Much like how Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn made Ubisoft’s bread-and-butter gameplay their own, though, Ubisoft did the same by adding their own touches to differentiate and even improve on certain systems. So, it should come as no surprise really that someone took inspiration from another game and made it their own; arguably improving on things that weren’t perfect, as Guillemot insinuates. After all, this has been going on in games for a long time, even leading to the rise of certain genres, and permeating how we, as gamers, describe them. Metroidvania anyone?

Before he was finished, Guillemot also commented on Ubisoft’s recent shift towards more multiplayer driven experiences, adapting to changing times, and trying to show there’s more to them than just climbing towers in open-worlds.

“It’s the kind of game that is more and more in demand from players. As a company, we have to adapt to this evolution in demand,” explained Guillemot. “So it’s a question of generation: some people have been playing linear adventures, and they tend to want to continue to play that kind of game, even if they’re starting to open to other types of games.

“For each revolution or disruption, there are steps where you are in the middle and the new thing is not yet very interesting. The first people that try the game might say ‘It’s good, but it’s not as good as I expected’ and sometimes they don’t want to try it again.

“But after a while you improve the quality of this new experience, and you arrive at a level where the new people who try it love it. It always takes time to change mentalities. For us, we had no choice but to introduce the types of product that most of the customers, most of the players, wanted.”

Ubisoft will be getting back to their open-world roots a bit before the year is over, however, with the latest Assassin’s Creed set to release on October 27th, and dip their toes back in familiar waters next year with Far Cry 5’s planned release for February 27th, 2018.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


Developer: Climax Studios • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 02.09.16
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.


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.


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.


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.


Developer: Climax Studios • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 01.12.16
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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.