Assassin's Creed Syndicate PC review impressions: This gorgeous, mostly smooth game is no Unity

Wherein we try to answer one simple question: Does it work better than Assassin's Creed Unity?

I don’t know whether we have the month-long delay on Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s PC version to thank, but hooray: It runs. I’m maybe six hours into the game and haven’t hit any major bugs, though there are some minor jitters and a bit of slowdown here and there. Some pop-in. Some weirdly low-res textures at times.

Nothing too serious. Nothing at all on par with last year’s Assassin’s Creed Unity debacle. Nothing game-breaking.

More importantly, I think it’s worth noting the game is really pretty and has brought my 980 Ti to its knees even at 1920x1080. I can run the game at Ultra settings, but doing so drops me to around 45 frames per second (compared to 70-80 at “Very High”). I dipped a few of the Nvidia-specific settings since I prefer smooth, buttery frame rate, but that’s impressive in itself given it’s the only game this year to make that happen.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

I don’t think it’s because of poor optimization, either. I think the game mostly earns it, especially by cranking the draw distance way out to the horizons, rows and rows of Victorian-era smokestacks pumping coal into the London sky. Although we did lose Unity’s massive crowds this year—London’s streets are noticeably emptier than Paris’s, and the civilians quite a bit dumber.

The one perpetual issue I’ve noticed is that your character’s clothing is a bit herky-jerky. It looks almost as if the animation is running at 30 frames per second even though the game is running more than twice as fast. I don’t pay attention to it often, but sometimes it catches my eye and I find myself watching Evie’s robes twitch around haphazardly. Ugly.

Other than that, no major issues to report. Steam reviews and Reddit threads seem to agree it’s an all-around improvement over Unity—and that’s (at least when I’m writing this, on early Thursday morning) before Nvidia’s even released its Syndicate-specific drivers. I have seen a few complaints here and there—some complaining about frame rate issues, a couple about texture bugs—but nowhere near the level of vitriol I saw after last year’s release.

That goes for the actual content of the game too. The twin siblings Evie and Jacob are both genuinely charismatic, the more egregious parts of Unity’s design (companion apps, et cetera) have been pared back, and Austin Wintory’s score is mesmerizing.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

It’s a lot more cartoony than usual—more a parody of history than anything else—but at least I’m casually enjoying myself. Unity bored me to tears. Syndicate is a lot less self-serious, and maybe that’s a good thing. It’s too early for me to tell.

I’ll be keeping an eye on general Internet buzz over the next few days to see if widespread issues start cropping up—and playing through the game myself, of course—but for the moment Syndicate seems fine.

Though if you’re going to purchase it, I’d urge you to buy through Steam and leave yourself the option of a refund. Syndicate is a good start, but I still trust Ubisoft’s PC ports about as far as I can throw a copy of Assassin’s Creed Unity. Which is about three feet from here to the nearest trash can.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Hayden Dingman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?