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Steam Sales photo
Steam Sales

Valve misled customers during the Steam Summer Sale, says UK's Advertising Authority

The discount on GTA V was misleading
Nov 06
// Joe Parlock
Back during the Steam Summer Sale, there was a fairly large uproar about the pricing of Grand Theft Auto V. Between the game’s launch and the Summer Sale, GTA V cost £39.99. Suddenly once the sale began, the origi...
One free Syndicate DLC photo
One free Syndicate DLC

Why the hell are Assassin's Creed Syndicate's goofy steampunk costumes 1GB?

Large, bad DLC (but free!)
Nov 05
// Steven Hansen
God, of course it was coming. Fucking steampunk. It will never be cool or good, you're exactly like that shitty we-live-a-Victorian-lifestyle couple that everyone made fun of for their shitty thinkpiece about how great life i...
Assassin's Creed photo
Assassin's Creed

Ubisoft: Syndicate sales were 'clearly impacted' by Assassin's Creed Unity

But it has 'nicely outperformed' since
Nov 05
// Vikki Blake
Ubisoft has acknowledged that Assassin's Creed Syndicate sales have been "clearly impacted" by the performance issues of its predecessor, Assassin's Creed Unity. In an investor call last night, Ubisoft executive Alain Martinez said: "Clearly, in our first week, we were impacted by what happened with Assassin's Creed Unity."
Cool new GTAV mode photo
Cool new GTAV mode

New Grand Theft Auto V Online mode channels Manhunt

Just in time for Halloween
Oct 31
// Steven Hansen
Eight more days 'til Hallo-ween, Hallo-ween Eight more days 'til Hallo-ween, Hallo-ween Ahem. Sorry. I watched Halloween 3: Season of the Witch last night and that jingle is stuck in my head. Also, what an odd movie. I like ...
AC Syndicate photo
AC Syndicate

Assassin's Creed Syndicate has a Uplay reward actually worth getting

For once
Oct 31
// Brett Makedonski
Uplay, Ubisoft's digital rights management service and scourge in the eyes of most gamers, had one cool concept once upon a time. When the program launched, it was supposed to reward players by unlocking things through gamep...
Mirror's Edge delay photo
Mirror's Edge delay

Mirror's Edge Catalyst pushed back to May 2016

What's another few months?
Oct 29
// Darren Nakamura
Mirror's Edge Catalyst, the long-awaited reboot/sequel/whatever to 2008's Mirror's Edge is almost upon us. We've been sitting idly, hoping to play as Faith again for seven years. The wait just got a little bit longer. Catalys...
Arkham Knight photo
Arkham Knight

Update: Arkham Knight Steam reviews are being tagged 'Pre Release'

No they ruddy well aren't pre-release
Oct 29
// Laura Kate Dale
[Update: Since the story was posted, the pre release tag has begun to be removed from these reviews]. Boy, Arkham Knight really is the gift that keeps on giving. Yesterday Batman: Arkham Knight finally returned to Steam after...

Review: Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Oct 28 // Brett Makedonski
Assassin's Creed Syndicate (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Ubisoft QuebecPublisher: UbisoftMSRP: $59.99Released: October 23, 2015 (PS4, Xbox One), November 19, 2015 (PC) An early sequence concerns itself with getting illegal opiates in medicine off the streets. The player must trace this back all the way up the supply chain from seller to distributor to manufacturer and, eventually, to the doctor who's behind it all. One high-profile assassination, and the city's a little better off than before. That's an evident narrative example of how Syndicate conveys this ever-present march toward improving London, but gameplay elements also support it. The biggest side-task asks that you liberate sections of town. Once enough of those are cleared, there's a gang war to take over the borough. And, once that's done, that particular one-seventh of the city is rid of Templar influence. It's a formula that Assassin's Creed has drawn from before, but it's hard not to feel as if it works best in Syndicate. That persistent slow-burn sense of accomplishment is present, as it usually is when you see the tides turn in an open-world game. But, the way Syndicate connects gameplay to narrative makes everything really come together. Progress is being made and it's apparent in the way the town goes about its business. [embed]315655:60898:0[/embed] A pivotal reason that this effort succeeds is because Syndicate has a cast of characters that are interesting and memorable. Crawford Starrick is easily one of the best villains in the series, as he puppeteers all of the going-ons. A late-introduced person is simply divine in his madness. By the time his arc resolves, he reminds more of Batman's Joker than anyone from Assassin's Creed's lore. Anchoring this effort are the dual protagonists: Jacob and Evie Frye. As siblings are wont to do, they have a bit of a rivalry that escalates throughout the course of the narrative. Their relationship is strung along by things their father used to say, as interpreted by them individually. As such, they have differing opinions on their goals and how to accomplish them, and they're constantly reminding the other of it. It grows tiresome before long. Really, I suspect that the two protagonist formula was a means for Ubisoft to explore divergent intentions within the course of one game. Evie is hellbent on recovering a Piece of Eden that's hidden somewhere in London; Jacob's set on reclaiming the city and fighting for the people's rights (he's surprisingly altruistic considering his brash demeanor). Told within the the arc of a single hero, these interests wouldn't make for a cohesive game. It'd feel schizophrenic in its approach. But, by breaking it up for two people to pursue, it makes sense. Syndicate's better off for having explored both of these angles, thus, it's better off for having tried the tandem protagonists. For all the big-picture stuff that Syndicate does right, almost all of its missteps are in the gameplay. The franchise mainstays like non-notable assassinations work just as fine as they always have (although combat still lacks sufficient impact to prove satisfying). It's the innovative parts that mostly fall flat. Horse-drawn carriages control awfully and are a pain to drive. Kidnapping is mapped to the same button as other post-kidnapping actions, often leading to mishaps with your hostage. The worst sin comes in the form of the game's most marketable feature. The grappling hook, even with its finicky nature, makes traversing London quick and simple. But it comes at the cost of almost completely cutting climbing out of Assassin's Creed. Simply walking up to a building and pushing the left bumper will transport you to the top. The grappling hook actually feels like cheating after spending eight games getting there the hard way. It's easy to appreciate Ubisoft saving you a bit of time, but pulling back and reflecting after several hours of play will lead you to realize that you've scaled just a tiny fraction of what you have in past titles. Climbing is a major mechanic that drew a lot of people to Assassin's Creed in the first place, so it's sad seeing Syndicate relegate it to an afterthought. Assassinations are the other large appeal to Assassin's Creed titles. Syndicate does them better than ever before. Extrapolating upon the "black box" missions in Unity, we're treated to unique, intriguing, and exciting kills of the game's most notable targets. For instance, that doctor mentioned oh-so many paragraphs up? It'd be easy enough to rush in and off him. Instead, I pickpocketed the keys off of a guard to open all the doors in the asylum. Then, I made my way to the basement where I hid the body of a medical corpse, and laid down in its place. I was wheeled up to the doctor, where I assassinated him as he was about to conduct an inhumane experiment on me. This is where Assassin's Creed as a whole is at its very best and most shows its promise. Anyone who's blowing them off is doing themselves a huge disservice and probably playing the game the wrong way. These black box missions are where you get to feel like an actual assassin and get clever with your kills -- even if it's still scripted in a way. It's a nice compromise after we figured out that open-world scenarios lead to more botched attempts than anything else. A game of this magnitude is bound to have its successes and failures, and Assassin's Creed Syndicate definitely has both. But, in most instances, gameplay and narrative are interwoven nicely enough to keep us vested in our pursuit of a better London. As such, it often seems as if the bad isn't all that noticeable. That's a threshold Assassin's Creed has struggled to hit over the years, and this is the first time it has accomplished that maybe since Brotherhood. One of the more poignant moments in Syndicate is a scene where Crawford Starrick is solemnly playing piano. At the conclusion of the slow, heartfelt song, he earnestly sings "In such a moment, I but ask that you'll remember me. That you'll remember me." We remember you, Assassin's Creed. And now, we have hope for what else you can do.
AC Syndicate review photo
Come together
Perched atop some large edifice in Assassin's Creed Syndicate's London, I hesitated. Many slickly-presented columns of light reached toward the sky in all directions -- each one indicating yet another thing to do in an effort...

Just Cause 3 photo
Just Cause 3

Oh, right, Just Cause 3 has a story

Or so they say
Oct 23
// Jordan Devore
I'm a fan of the Just Cause series for its freedom of movement, particularly when it comes to aerial antics, but some people live for all-out destruction. Others, like Destructoid reader Coil_Whine, are into the story. That's...
AC Syndicate photo
AC Syndicate

A poor mechanic is Assassin's Creed Syndicate's greatest feature

First impressions
Oct 23
// Brett Makedonski
The magnitude of Assassin's Creed is as great as ever this year. Syndicate's London is said to be 30 percent larger than Assassin's Creed Unity's size, and it feels every inch of it. Upon unlocking the open world, simply navi...
Fallout series for cheap photo
Fallout series for cheap

All the Fallout games on sale on Steam again this weekend

Well, not Fallout 4...or Shelter
Oct 22
// Steven Hansen
After Fallout 4 was announced, Steam discounted the preceding entries in the Fallout series. Steam has now done this again, ahead of Fallout 4's November 10 release date, just in case you did not buy any of them last time. Th...
Assassin's Creed review photo
Assassin's Creed review

Where's our Assassin's Creed Syndicate review?

Let me tell you, friend
Oct 22
// Brett Makedonski
It's very early in the morning and some Assassin's Creed Syndicate reviews just landed. Except ours didn't. So, what gives? Are we the hip slackers who are too cool to turn our homework in on time? Is this our half-heart...
Assassin's Creed photo
Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed Syndicate finally uses 'London Calling' in a trailer

Took long enough
Oct 21
// Brett Makedonski
"London Calling" is a very good song by The Clash, a very good punk band. Through its staccato'd guitars and less-than-frantic pace, it tells of social and political concern in England's capital. There's a feel-good veneer c...
GTA Online photo
GTA Online

GTA Online's next DLC gets low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low

Or that song by War
Oct 15
// Brett Makedonski
Next week, certain areas of Grand Theft Auto Online will look less like societal mayhem and more like a west coast rap video. Car after car will be lined up with owners standing proudly next to their virtual popped ...
Just Cause 3 photo
Just Cause 3

Just Cause 3's Xbox One file size is kind of extreme, but not really

There's still time, Avalanche
Oct 14
// Brett Makedonski
Just Cause revels in its penchant for doing everything over-the-top. It wants you to hang upside-down from a helicopter, plant C4, dive toward the earth as the whirlybird explodes above you, grapple onto another helicopter, h...
What the hell is ADD? photo
What the hell is ADD?

Blink-182's 'What's My Age Again?' recreated in GTA V

It's just a lot of naked running
Oct 14
// Brett Makedonski
Are you ready for this? Before you start, you're going to want to get the feeling right. Maybe wear some cologne. Whatever you do, do not -- I repeat, do not -- turn on the TV. Okay, now it's time to watch Blink-182's "...
Home Free photo
Home Free

Dog adventure Home Free headed to PS4

The logo has a dog's butt!
Oct 13
// Jordan Devore
I was as pleasantly surprised as Darren to see Home Free, a survival game about a lost dog in a randomly generated city, reach its funding goal on Kickstarter in under a week. More good news: it's coming to PlayStation 4 in a...
Just Cause 3 photo
Just Cause 3

Just Cause 3 looks like such dumb fun

Sometimes, that's all you need
Oct 08
// Jordan Devore
I'm looking forward to closing out the year with a month of Just Cause 3. I can see it now: staying inside, all warm and slightly drunk, playing a game about a man with a rocket launcher strapped to his back who glides around...
Far Cry Primal photo
Far Cry Primal

Everything we know about Far Cry Primal

Humanity's the underdog
Oct 06
// Brett Makedonski
Well, that didn't take Ubisoft long, eh? Yesterday's tease via stream lasted only a day before the French publisher couldn't stand the excitement anymore and announced Far Cry Primal. Here's what we've learned since then. Far...

Soar the island-filled skies of Worlds Adrift

Oct 01 // Jordan Devore
[embed]313407:60583:0[/embed] There's Spider-Man-style swinging at 7:15. Ship construction, which is done by hand, starts at 10:50. Williams demonstrates flying at 19:20 and even alone, without the threat of other players, it looks terrifying. Then again, he clearly knows how to grapple and isn't afraid of plummeting to his death. Lastly, you can take photos (including selfies!) and frame them. See that at 23:20.
Worlds Adrift photo
But watch out for pirates
Bossa Studios (Surgeon Simulator, I am Bread) is making an open-world MMO about building airships, flying them to floating islands, and screwing over others (probably). You interested? The developers were in town, so we sent Rey to take a look at that game, Worlds Adrift, and he put together this in-depth video with narration provided by designer Luke Williams.

Fallout 4 photo
Fallout 4

It's too early to pay for the Fallout 4 Season Pass

We don't know what's in it
Oct 01
// Jordan Devore
Bethesda opened pre-orders for the Fallout 4 Season Pass today, but hold up for a minute. We know it's $29.99, and that the game's first DLC is expected to roll out in 2016. We also know that there won't be platform-exclusive...
Ark: Survival Evolved photo
Ark: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved adds tundras, swamps, and giant frogs

Exciting new places to die in!
Sep 30
// Nic Rowen
ARK: Survival Evolved has added some variety to its tropical, Jurassic Park-with-no-guardrails, vibe in its latest update. Two new biomes, including a snow covered, mountainous tundra filled with huge direwolves and towering ...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

Phantom Pain Hardcore mod ups Metal Gear Solid's difficulty

Big Boss Extreme
Sep 28
// Steven Hansen
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is real accommodating. That's not to say there aren't bouts of frustrating mission failures and humiliating chicken hat offers, but all things considered (even without the time-slowing Reflex mode), it is way more forgiving than past Metal Gear and other stealth games. Almost too easy. This TTP Hardcore Mod does the following:
Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

Here are 22 Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone screens to tide you over

Just two more weeks
Sep 28
// Brett Makedonski
I write, you read -- that's the arrangement we have here. It has worked fabulously for the past three years (except for those of you who hate me). As if a substitute teacher were in class, I'm going to take it a bit easy on y...
Fallout 4 file size photo
Fallout 4 file size

Fallout 4 is just over 28GB on Xbox One

Hard drives...hard drives never change
Sep 28
// Steven Hansen
There ain't so much room on these newfangled "next gen" consoles after two years' worth of games up in 40GB territory. The expansive Fallout 4 won't be too much of a size hog, according to the official Xbox One store, which c...
Fallout 4 photo
Fallout 4

Fallout 4: 'We aren't doing a DLC exclusive with anyone'

Console warriors, lay down your arms
Sep 28
// Vikki Blake
Bethesda has confirmed that Fallout 4 will not have time-exclusive DLC on any platform. Responding to a query on Twitter, VP of marketing Pete Hines stated that there were no plans to have an exclusivity deal with "anyone." ...
Phantom Pain photo
Phantom Pain

I've met my match in Metal Gear Solid V

Target Practice (R&D Platform)
Sep 25
// Jordan Devore
I've played enough Side Ops in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain that, hell, I might as well go for full completion. That's not advisable, by the way. There's 157 of them. Some are novel. Others sure aren't. Even with the ...
Sexy storytime photo
Sexy storytime

Please send Dying Light devs your zombie apocalypse erotica

This is a call to arms
Sep 24
// Brett Makedonski
If you want to accuse me of thinking that Techland tries waaaaay too hard sometimes, I'm guilty, guilty, guilty. Lock me up and throw away the key. For every fine example of continued support for the community, there's a...

Assassin's Creed producer talks returning to the series' roots

Sep 24 // Alessandro Fillari
I've had an affinity for the AC series all the way back to the original. I remember getting hyped for an action-adventure title set during the Crusades, and then again for its follow-up in the Italian Renaissance period -- two settings that don't get much play from the medium. But ever since its move to the annual release schedule, I sometimes find it hard to get excited about new entries when they can come off as more of the same. While some of these games are off the charts when it comes to fun and offering an interesting setting to explore, Assassin's Creed has missed the mark a few times. Obviously, this presented Ubisoft with a challenge for how to tackle the upcoming jaunt through Victorian-era London. As one of the most-requested settings from fans, the developers felt extra pressure to get it right while making sure not to repeat the mistakes of past titles. As the ninth mainline Assassin's Creed title (yes, already), it's definitely a challenge to keep things interesting, because you can only play as an Assassin so many times without any major shake-ups before things get stale. Senior producer Jeff Skalski spoke at length about their vision for Syndicate, and how they hope the return to basics will reinvigorate the brand. "That's been a challenge for any game that's been a franchise," he said while discussing development. "Whether you're working on the second one or fifth one, but for us, we've been working on this game for two and a half years, so there's a lot of things we know about what Assassin's Creed has done in the past. We have a sense of maybe where it's going, but no one has a crystal ball. So we really evaluate what is important, where do we want to innovate, where do we want to focus, and then we kind of start building that game with that kind of mindset." The elephant in the room when talking about this series is the troubled launch of last year's Unity. While a solid entry in the series featuring  some gorgeous visuals and a stellar recreation of 18th-century France, this unfortunately, and quite understandably, was lost on many gamers who had to wade through technical issues and oddities that put a serious damper on the whole experience. While there are many reasons for how that turned out, the developers at Ubisoft Quebec wanted to ensure they nailed their interpretation and execution of the setting right at launch. "We took a real kind of fine-tooth comb and we looked at the combat, stealth, what do we change that didn't work so well, and we really evaluate it all," stated Skalski. "We've all been fans of the game, we're gamers first before we're actually developers, so these are things that for us is an opportunity. We have one shot of building an Assassin's Creed game in Victorian-era London, and it's almost a dream come true for a lot of us. And we wanted to knock it out of the park." Even though multiplayer and other online components have been present for the majority of the AC titles, this marks the first time since 2009 that a main entry in the series will be strictly single-player. With 2010's Brotherhood introducing multiplayer, along with the annualized release schedule, it set the standard for  titles going forward. So it was especially surprisingly to see that Ubisoft decided to brings things back with its focus on a pure single-player narrative. The studio made the decision early on to create a stronger narrative with denser content to back it up. "When we were conceptualizing the game and figuring out what did we want to build, but more importantly what did we not want to build -- because the more we built in the game, it means we'd have to stretch our resources thin -- we really wanted to go all in on the single-player experience. That's not to say we don't believe in multiplayer, and I think there's a place for that, but for this round we wanted to focus on the single-player. But yeah, we looked at the previous AC titles, and saw the various pillars they were built on, and thought 'How can we improve this?' [...] So it was a very conscious decision, and it was one we made very early on." For me, one of the highlights of playing Syndicate, and I'm sure many will share this sentiment, was the setting. The Victorian era was an evocative period with the old world slowly shifting into the modern era before everyone's eyes. And with the Industrial Revolution in full swing, it created many challenges for those living in the heart of the Western Empire. The devs saw this as not only an interesting setting that stands out among the predecessors, but also allowed them to open the gameplay into new areas and introduce abilities and gadgets not possible from the time period. "There's so much for us to play with in the Victorian time," explained the producer. "As you stated, it was the turning point in terms of the modern society that we live in today, so we felt that was bringing something fresh and something very new, and allowed us to kind of break the rules in places that would be exciting for players. Even today, it's a city that's a melting pot of society, so we were not short on ideas. We had to pick our top-top favorites and realize those as best as we could and work with our writers to make sure it was accurate and authentic." Despite the gloomy atmosphere and depressing subject matter, Syndicate manages to display a lot humor from the characters. In retrospect, many of the AC titles portrayed their stories earnestly with some slight scenes for humor to break up the tension.  Syndicate's dual protagonists, who are brother and sister, share a kind of sibling rivalry and make constant jokes at their expense. I'd imagine with the bleak atmosphere, they had to offer some levity. Which thankfully works quite well. "Humor was very important to us. As we were writing the game, and looking over the scripts, we were laughing, and that was a good sign for us. During mo-cap, I would laugh at lines and still find myself laughing when they came up in the game, so I hope players will enjoy the narrative, the characters -- every one of them is super special -- and the relationships they form with Jacob and Evie, and how they experience London for the first time."  Since the reveal earlier this year, the creators of Syndicate (then titled Victory), had a bit of an uphill battle to get through to ensure they were all in when it comes to creating the next big entry for the series. Fortunately, my several hours with the game got my interest piqued for what's to come. What I enjoyed most about the era is that it felt as though it was stuck between two different periods -- one from the past, the other towards the future. With many of the characters clinging onto the old ways while living in a civilization that has introduced vehicle traffic and gas and electrical infrastructure, Assassin's Creed Syndicate's interpretation of Victorian-era London should be one of the more exciting, visually striking locales the series has seen in a long time. For more info about Syndicate, check out my hands-on impressions. 
Interview photo
In a West End town, a dead end world
As the tenth anniversary for the Assassin's Creed franchise draws closer, it's hard to imagine the series has been around for so long. I was two years out of high school when Altair and Desmond first made their appearance on ...

Assassin's Creed Syndicate's London is an exciting and evocative setting

Sep 24 // Alessandro Fillari
Assassin's Creed Syndicate (PC, PS4 [previewed], Xbox One)Developer: Ubisoft QuebecPublisher: UbisoftRelease Date: October 23, 2015 (PS4, Xbox One) / Q4 2015 (PC) Set nearly eighty years after the events of Assassin's Creed Unity, Syndicate thrusts players into the gritty and bustling city of London during the Industrial Revolution. With the Assassin Order struggling to rebuild, sibling assassins Jacob and Evie Fyre come to Victorian-era London during a relatively modest mission and find it under heavy Templar control. Witnessing the extent of the corruption in the heart of the Western Empire spearheaded by powerful industrialist and Templar operative Crawford Starrick, the siblings disregard the demands from their Order to abandon the city and take matters into their own hands to dismantle the Templar power structure. Using their Assassin abilities and gadgets, along with their keen eyes for scouting potential alliances with the locals, the Fryes will have to unite the criminal underworld of London in order to overthrow a common enemy, who may be in possession of another Piece of Eden. As one of the most-requested settings for an AC title, the developers at Ubisoft were keen on bringing the series to the Victorian era. London during 1868 was a period of equally great innovation and social unrest. The Industrial Revolution gave way to mass production and advanced technologies, but it came at the cost of humane working conditions, child labor, and poor quality of life for the working class. With factories peppering the city of London and smoke blotting out the sky, urban living was not what it was cracked up to be -- there was a lot of misery for those on the bottom of the social structure. This makes for an evocative setting for Assassin's Creed, and adds a greater connection with the city. While it would sound a bit cheesy to say that the city is a character itself, it does feel that way. I was impressed with not only how accurate the city looked, but also how much life exists within the game. There are several districts to travel to including Southwark, Westminster, Lambeth, Whitechapel, and the City of London (metropolitan area). Travel can be done by train, fast travel via landmarks, or even using carriages, marking the first time Assassin's Creed has an actual traffic and vehicle system to work with while in town. As the first AC title featuring dual protagonists in the same era, Syndicate does a lot to switch things up for players. Both characters serve as the focus for the general narrative. At any time in the menu, you'll be able to switch between the two while out in the open world, and each of them have unique content to tackle. Essentially two sides of the same coin, the Frye twins have varying approaches and mindsets when taking on obstacles but still seek the same result. With Jacob being the more hard-headed, brutish assassin who seems to relish his time getting into brawls and sharing a pint with commoners in the pubs, many of his ventures tend to have a more over-the-top flair to them. Evie, on the other hand, is clearly the more rational and logical twin, focusing on hatching clever plots to accomplish her long-term goals. In the end, a sledgehammer is sometimes more effective than a scalpel, and vice-versa -- so the twins will have to rely on each other to successfully overthrow the Templars. I rather enjoyed the dynamic between the Fryes. It's a change of pace for the series, and it's refreshing to have a female assassin put in the spotlight. Jacob's brash and devil-may-care attitude works well with Evie's stoic and uncompromising demeanor, which often times conflicts with her brother's spontaneous behavior. Essentially, it's a buddy-assassin plot, and it works quite well. These characters are invested, but still manage to find time to make jokes at the expense of their sibling. Given how expansive London is -- more than three times the size of Paris from Assassin's Creed Unity -- the twins will have a lot of ground to cover in the open world. Eventually, they'll gain access to a personal train which serves as a mobile command center for their operation. As the train makes its rounds, they'll be able plan their next move and ride the railway to missions. During their exploits in London, the Fryes will come across many important figures who have their own stake in the city, and they'll come to rely on the two assassins for assistance. From Alexander Graham Bell -- who builds a rope-launcher that allows the twins to scale rooftops and make zip-lines -- to Charles Dawrin, Charles Dickens, and even the infamous Jack the Ripper; the Assassins will come across many allies and foes on the streets, and they've all got their own ambitions in mind. But the twins won't be able to succeed on their own. With the many gangs and factions around London made up of citizens frustrated with feeling powerless, Jacob and Evie will have to win them over in order loosen the tight grip the Templars have over the city. As you retake areas of London from the Templars and gangs, key leaders will make themselves available and offer assistance. In Sequence 3 of the campaign, Evie forms an alliance with Clara O'Dea, the leader of a gang of children who've been used by the corrupt factory supervisors and seek their own way of life away from controlling adults. Each key figure within the different districts of London has a relationship with the Fryes, and doing missions and side-quests for them will strengthen their bond and unlock new gear and valuables. Over time, cash made by your network of gangs will be kicked back to the Fryes. It's a clever way to work key characters into the core progression. In previous titles, most of the advancement was done in menus and general side-missions, so incorporating character growth along with the related content makes the progression feel as though you're having a deeper impact. As always, the assassins will have several areas of the game world to conquer, and completing side-objectives and story missions are the best way to do so. In Syndicate, however, it feels as though there's a much greater level of variety for the side-missions. With the lack of multiplayer and co-op modes, this gave the developers resources to flesh out the world with side-events and points of interests to explore. For instance, instead of going around and tailing contacts, Jacob can compete in local fight clubs to strengthen bonds with allies. As you accomplish missions and side-quests, you'll gain experience to level up and acquire skill points to spend in the universal skill tree. Skills range from buffing melee attacks, eagle vision effective, upgrades to the arsenal, lockpicking, store discounts, and boosts to the economy. When you acquire more resources and control more of London, the assassins can spend their cash on new items, armor, and weapons. Given the era, the Fryes will have to be far more practical in their approach to carrying out their missions and assassinations. With great swords, hammers, and crossbows now considered antiqued in mid-1800s London, and many of which would get people arrested for possession, concealed weapons were a major part of self-defense in urban life. Between the standard cane sword (a short sword hidden in the shaft of a cane), daggers, brass knuckles, pistols and revolvers, bombs, poison, and the tried-and-true hidden blade, the concealed weapons add personality to Syndicate and feature an added level of customization, which also speaks to the increasingly modernized era. As covered in my last article, the combat system has been overhauled. It's now far more active. While Unity experimented with some new ideas, Syndicate advances things quite a bit. Given how easily players could abuse certain skills and rewards during combat, the developers felt it was time to try and switch things up. Here, battles prompt players to go more on the offensive, as enemies now only attack when they seen an opening and guard more frequently. Players will have to use stuns and guard-breaks to open up these defenses, all the while using parries and their side-arms (knives, revolvers, bombs) to manage multiple foes. The combat felt much more challenging this time around, and I was surprised at how tense things got. Heavier enemies in particular take a lot longer to bring down. Unfortunately, I was concerned with the overall technical performance of the game. There were several instances of texture and environmental objects fading in, along with NPC characters popping into view, and some slight frame rate dips throughout my preview session. While this title is in a much better state than Unity was last year at launch, I do hope that the devs can iron out the issues. Given how rich the setting is -- they nailed the atmosphere and tone of the era -- it would be a shame if these technical hiccups persist in the final release. Graphical worries notwithstanding, I was largely pleased with Assassin's Creed Syndicate. This is very much a dream setting for fans, myself included, and to see it all realized so vividly was great. From the bustling streets filled with carriages, to the back alleys full of criminals and roughnecks looking for their next target, the atmosphere in Victorian-era London is the strongest an AC game has had in a long time. I'm looking forward to my trip back to the foggy city, but I do hope they'll fix the kinks. This is one era that deserves the best the developers have got.
Preview photo
City of London, City of London
With October nearly here, it's about that time for Ubisoft to release another entry in its annual time-traveling trek through history. While Assassin's Creed has had highs and lows, no one can deny it's one of the few series ...

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