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November 26 2015
Assassin's Creed: Syndicate - PS4 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
16/10/2015UbisoftUbisoftUbisoft Qubec1None
Version HDD Install Resolution Touchpad PS4 Exclusive OFLC Rating

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Assassin's Creed: Syndicate looks stunning in this panoramic shot of London.

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Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is out late October.
Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed franchise has been a phenomenal success for the company with sales quickly approaching 100 million units in the fourteen games released since 2007 across all platforms including home consoles and mobile devices. Indeed, the shift to current-gen systems was a little shaky with last year's Assassin's Creed: Unity suffering glitches and online connectivity launch issues, something we're glad to report doesn't plague this latest title.

Over the years we've seen the franchise jump between different locations and time periods including Italy during the Renaissance, America during the American Revolution and France during the French Revolution. This latest game in the series moves the franchise to London during one of the most exciting periods of time, the Victorian Era.

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Walking around the train station.
London, 1868. The Industrial Revolution unleashes an incredible age of invention, transforming the lives of millions with technologies once thought impossible. Opportunities created during this period have people rushing to London to engage in this new world, a world no longer controlled by kings, emperors, politicians, or religion, but by a new common denominator: money.

Not everyone is able to enjoy the benefits of this boom, however. Despite fueling the engine of the British Empire, workers' lives are little more than legalized slavery while the top few percent profit from their labor. Living poor and dying young, the lower class unite in protest as a new kind of family, gangs, who turn to a life in the underworld in their struggle to survive. A struggle, until watchful Assassins come to their side and re-ignite an age-old conflict involving Londonís leaders that will echo throughout modern history, from the underground up.

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Using vehicles in Assassin's Creed: Syndicate.
For the few of you unaware about this franchise and gameplay this is a third person action adventure game set in a large open world environment - in the case of Syndicate that's London. Certainly the biggest change to this game compared to previous titles, well besides the shift to Ubisoft Quebec as the developer rather than Ubisoft Montreal, is that you now control either of two characters during the game - either Jacob or Evie (actually there's a third character which you play as briefly during a World War I segment). These siblings have a life and likability to them as they go from petty criminals to running the streets of London. Each character also has their own styles, with Jacob being more of a street brawler and Evie focusing more on stealth techniques to complete missions. In all honesty, after you've leveled up both characters through the game with enough skills they're both adept at pretty much everything.

As with other games in the franchise one of the most interesting aspects is meeting actual historical figures from the time period, and in this game you can expect to meet author Charles Dickens, biologist Charles Darwin, inventor Alexander Graham Bell and Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli among others.

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As expected the game has plenty of stealth.
Yet again the ability for your characters to use parkour to traverse across, climb up or climb down buildings and structures is key to the games style, but Jacob and Evie have a new tool at their disposal - the rope launcher. By aiming at a distant building or structure you can fire a rope and use it as a zip line for fast travelling - it's most useful when you want to get to higher ground, or away from danger, quickly.

Also new for this game is the addition of horse and buggies which you can control and use around the streets of London. Indeed in some missions or side-quests you'll need to transport kidnapped people in buggies, chase down foes, or even hijack cargo being moved around the city. During the game you will also need to complete tasks such as taking over Gang Hideouts, freeing Child Slaves, Steal Cargo, or Kidnap people in order to take over the districts. When the smaller tasks are complete you will enter a Gang War to take on a number of thugs before a fight with the Gang Leader to take control of the district. Indeed you'll probably spend as much time completing these side-quests as you will the main campaign.

Speaking of the main campaign and story it's pretty decent and follows the rise of the twins to run the streets of London. Along the way you will complete tasks for various people including taking over a train (which becomes a base for Jacob and Evie), assassinating various targets and much more. Fortunately the fighting has been vastly improved for this title with a wider range of moves and combos available. Admittedly we would have liked to see a bit more variety in the missions - one sees you defending a location and train from an onslaught of enemies - and includes the use of a machine gun. It's different, and a decent diversion from typical assassinations. Also impressive is the way the developers have provided different ways to complete missions - take out a guard, talk to someone who may sympathise with you or a simple disguise may provide entry to a secure area.

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Even Charles Dickens makes and appearance.
Weapons play a major role in this game and you'll be able to use a kukri knife, brass knuckles, or the very cool, but brutal, cane sword. We should say that Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is quite a brutal game. In fact, it will only be a matter of minutes before you're slicing the necks of enemies and, unfortunately, there's no way to perform non-lethal takedowns. Perhaps that's something for Ubisoft to look at for future releases, but through this game, you'll have a kill count in the hundreds, if not thousands.

As with most major video games released these days there is plenty of DLC incoming including two missions that were available to those that pre-order the game or get the season pass - the Darwin and Dickens Conspiracy and Runaway Train. In the coming months other DLC pack include a "Jack the Ripper" campaign set in 1888 where players will john with Inspector Frederick Abberline of Scotland Yar to hunt down the serial killer, "The Last Maharaja Mission" where Jacob and Evie aid Duleep Singh in his quest to reclaim his birthright as the Maharaja and finally "A Long Night" where Jacob tracks down an endangered gang member and brings him back to the hideout in a "fast-paced, wild and dangerous ride". While they come at a cost, they will add even more longevity to this already pretty lengthy game which takes around 15-20 hours to complete the main story, but much longer if you like to find all the items and secrets in the game.

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Evie is a central character in Syndicate.
As many would be aware last yearís title, Assassin's Creed: Unity, launched in less than stellar condition with plenty of bugs and glitches littering the game, so much so that Ubisoft not only patched the game but offered gamers DLC for free as compensation. We're very pleased to report that this release is a much more polished product, not perfect mind you, but significantly improved. Much of this can probably be put down to the removal of the Companion App and much of the online connectivity.

Indeed, it's not just some online functionality that's missing but Assassin's Creed: Syndicate lacks any form of multiplayer modes. Funnily enough we didn't actually miss it too much however we do think that the developers have missed a big opportunity here for either local split-screen or online 2-player co-op with each person taking control of either Evie or Jacob.

Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed as always been a franchise that impresses visually, certainly from the standpoint of a large open-world environment with almost all buildings being scalable from ground to their highest point, with many buildings also having interiors able to be entered. The recreation of famous landmarks around London such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and event The Thams river is simply stunning. Using Ubisoft's own AnvilNext 2.0 engine this game pushes the franchise to all-new heights. Sure, the streets aren't as crowded as those in Assassin's Creed: Unity, but there is enough happening to make this a bustling city environment.

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Brawling on top of a train.
Another big change is the ability to drive a horse and carriage through the streets of London. This is super slick with different carriages responding a little differently as you trot, or race, around the streets and with damage also being inflicted on carriages when they get rammed or hit obstacles, such as street lights, which can be destroyed.

As we mentioned earlier in this review Syndicate is a much less buggy game then the previous entry in the franchise, Unity, but that's not saying it's perfect. During our play through we had one cut-scene where two people were talking, and one was invisible. That was the most severe, but in other areas of the game we've seen Jacob or Evie standing off a ledge, we've seen bodies clip through walls, and some other little often amusing but not game breaking bugs. These bugs are annoying but when you look at the size and scale of these games, they're somewhat understandable and Ubisoft have a good track record of fixing these with patches over time.

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Big Ben, an iconic London location in Assassin's Creed: Syndicate.
Somewhat unsurprisingly audio in this game is top-notch with Ubisoft yet again including some of the most impressive voice acting we've heard in a game. The actors playing Jacob and Evie (Paul Amos and Victoria Atkin) are brilliant, with the characters playing off each other, no doubt also due to some great script writing. Music and audio effects too are superb with little to complain about while surround sound channels also get a decent workout during the game.

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is another great entry in Ubisoft's long-running franchise. While this game lacks multiplayer modes the single player campaign, including side-missions is pretty extensive and the improved fighting mechanics and being able to drive around the city is a big bonus. This is pushing the current-gen technology pretty hard and is highly recommended.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSLondon looks stunning as expected, character models impress although enemies can be repetitive. A great looking game overall albeit with occasional glitches.
SOUNDThis franchise has always impressed sonically and this game is no exception with great music, effects and, in particular, dialogue.
GAMEPLAYIt's classic Assassin's Creed, but the improved combat, the zip-line for fast travelling and the ability to drive horse and buggies adds freshness.
VALUEWhile multiplayer is absent, there is quite a bit for completionists.
OVERALLAssassin's Creed: Syndicate is another great release in the franchise with Victorian-era London stunningly recreated. Multiplayer is missed somewhat, but there is plenty of content here to keep you busy.

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