Graphics:
9.0
Gameplay:
9.0
Sound:
9.5
Control:
8.8
Replay Value:
9.3
Overall Rating:
9.1
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
Ubisoft
Developer:
Ubisoft Quebec
Number Of Players:
1-2
Genre:
Action/Adventure
Release Date:
October 23, 2015


If I’m understanding the review process correctly, we’re supposed to compare a game to the competition – recent titles and games that come out around the same time – and if it’s part of a franchise, you also compare it to recent iterations. If this is true, I fail to see how Assassin’s Creed Syndicate can be seen as anything but a marked improvement. With mechanical, technical and even atmospheric enhancements that bolster the gameplay and immersion, along with better characters and a more cohesive storyline, one wonders what exactly it is that naysayers want. “Oh, it’s just the same” is too idiotic to dignify with a response, as most new franchise entries don’t offer as many upgrades and additions as this one.

Love it or hate it, that’s a fact.

As has always been the case, Assassin’s Creed thrives on the environmental appeal. From the moment you step into one of these dynamically inspired historic set pieces, you’re enthralled. We all have our favorite locales and while one could argue that Ubisoft has yet to top Italy, there’s no doubt in my mind that 1868 London ranks right up there with the very best presentations to date. It’s jam-packed with things to see and do, the city streets teem with activity at almost all hours of the day, and the overall design is nigh-on unparalleled. There are a few very minor graphical bugaboos but they’re rarely significant enough to matter and they almost never impact the gameplay. With gorgeous character modeling and styling, superb animations, and a wonderfully authentic veneer, Syndicate is a thing of beauty.

Other positive traits for which this series is so well known: Fantastically orchestrated music, stellar voice performances and top-notch effects. With the exception of a few muddled action effects, the latest Assassin’s Creed excels in all facets of audio production. The voice acting is better than ever and the rich, diverse score amplifies the awe and wonder of Victorian-Era London. In open-world environments, it’s important to present the player with an all-encompassing sound structure, as even the most miniscule effects play a role. The subtlety of ambient background noise gels with the in-your-face flair of high-powered effects, leaving your senses awash with aural goodness. As always, the sound is an absolute highlight, continually challenging your perception. It’s fiction, yes, but it’ll do its damndest to convince you otherwise.

As the sun sets on another busy London afternoon, I crouch atop one of the amazingly ornamented buildings in the town square, looking down on the waning activity. There’s a sense of completeness because you feel as if you’re enfolded in a truly realistic setting, but there’s also a palpable sense of motion. In other words, you almost feel the life force of the city hurtling onward, as you would in real life when getting an eagle-eye’s view of a thriving metropolis. The period in time is irrelevant; what the more sentimental side of you acknowledges is that humanity has always struggled forward, regardless of the challenges. This is one of the most modern playgrounds we’ve visited in the series but what stands out is the authenticity of each individual NPC as they go about their fictitious lives.

This is one of the reasons why I have such difficulty stopping. You actually feel like you’re part of something special, as opposed to simply running around a clearly fantastical land that makes no bones about its absurdity. There is little to no absurdity here. There is only a strident attempt at an alternate reality and that’s what I tend to appreciate. The general structure is another reason I can’t stop playing: One minute you’re in search of hidden treasure, running around with Jacob, and the next, you step into Evie’s talented boots and embark on a mission to free enslaved children. Missions and side-quests show up organically as you traverse the environment, further enhancing the seamlessness of your immersion, and the dual protagonist concept works out exceedingly well.