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Assassin's Creed Syndicate Review

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Graphics:

The graphics of Syndicate look good and modern most everywhere, but it is not free of issues. One issue that does hurt it visually is that many fabrics are animated at 30 FPS, even if the game is running at a higher rate. The difference in framerate can be very noticeable and hurt the look of the game as it makes the fabrics seem separate from the rest of the world. If the difference is small this issue disappears, but that is not ideal. Hopefully this will be fixed in the future.

Textures and models both look quite good, though I must admit that the constantly repeating models did get annoying. I understand that you cannot fill the streets with unique NPCs, but a bit more variety would have been appreciated. This is especially true when some characters you get to know appear almost identical to other NPCs, including some enemies, but this is a pretty minor complaint. Naturally the textures and models for Jacob and Evie are very good looking and are both unique.

The environment is also pretty good looking, but I do have one issue with it. The issue I observed is that objects, primarily flags, popped in at random. Curiously some of these flags would actually appear at a greater distance then vanish as I approached and then reappear. Hopefully that can be a quick fix as objects just appearing in front of you, when everything else is nicely loaded in, does stand out and look bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking past that issue, the game will actually load a good amount of the map around you. I know the level of detail is being reduced at greater distances, but the changes are subtle enough that I cannot remember noticing them, nor can I really spot them in the screenshots I have.

The animations are good but some do come with issues. One is some clipping, which is to be expected in a game like this. An arm or leg of an enemy might enter a wall as you go through a killing animation, but that is part of what happens in open-world games like this. The other issues are more gameplay related, so I will explain them in that section.

Shadows look great and I was only able to find a single criticism with them, which is that the shadows never looked all that sharp to me. However, I was surprised at times, such as when I was hanging on a line in the air, at how accurate the shadows were below. Buildings too cast pretty good shadows at distances I would normally expect the shadows to fade away or be like dark blobs. Syndicate is using both HBAO+ and Percentage Close Soft Shadows, which certainly contributes to the good looking shadows, but it seems to me like the shadows are being softened at closer ranges than they should be. Again, this is fairly minor, but whenever I found myself looking at the shadows, I found myself noticing this as well.

The fluids in the game are not particularly impressive to me. You do have the Thames to swim in, but the ripples you make are quickly gone. This makes some sense as the river current and ship wakes would quickly destroy your miniscule ripples, but I still wish they lived a little longer. Explosions are a bit more common than open fire and do their job well. I can probably think of some games that do them better, but those are also games that need them to look better.

 

 

Pretty short appearance section here, but that makes sense. The game looks good enough to not need much discussion. Performance however will need a few words, but first my specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 980 4 GB
  • PhysX: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

I ran the game with everything maxed except the anti-aliasing and had framerates typically in the 40s, but occasionally it went up to the 50s and hit 60, but would also drop into the 30s. Except for some odd moments, it was consistently above 30 and quite playable. Those odd moments were largely when I was on top of a tall structure, so a lot had to be loaded, and once or twice when I was in a carriage.

I do feel like my CPU may be the culprit here, so you know, and not the GPU. There can be a lot of objects to deal with on the screen, and I think my CPU might not be able to keep up with all of them, but it was still playable so I am not complaining.

 

 

Unfortunately one issue I experienced last year with Unity does also exist with Syndicate, though it is less severe. At random moments the game would freeze, except for the audio. I could be in a fight, walking, or driving a carriage and everything would just stop for a few seconds, eventually continuing as though nothing happened at all. While this is not something that can be easily excused, I do believe these pauses were shorter than they were in Unity.

There are several options for anti-aliasing and I stuck with FXAA. The higher options are MSAA 2x, MSAA 4x, TXAA 2x, and TXAA 4x. All of these actually still use FXAA to help with transparent textures, as traditional solutions have a hard time working on those. While I did not experience any special issues with TXAA this time, I chose to not use it because even at the highest setting of TXAA 4x, I could still see plenty of aliasing. In addition to that, the option also smoothed some edges and that smoothing changed just enough as I moved that I found the aliasing left by FXAA more tolerable.

Before moving away from the AA options, I want to mention that if you use NVIDIA drivers you should turn off MFAA for the game. This option is meant to improve the performance of MSAA in games that support it, and Syndicate apparently does not at this time. With that driver option enabled I experienced severe graphical issues that made the game almost unplayable, and also somewhat amusing. Some large objects would go missing, so I would be walking and standing in the middle of the sky because their collision boxes were still present.

Overall, the graphics definitely look good and while the performance is okay, it does still have issues. Hopefully that random pausing will be fixed because that is one issue that really cannot be ignored.




  1. Assassin's Creed Syndicate Review - Introduction
  2. Assassin's Creed Syndicate Review - Graphics
  3. Assassin's Creed Syndicate Review - Story
  4. Assassin's Creed Syndicate Review - Gameplay
  5. Assassin's Creed Syndicate Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Assassin's Creed Syndicate Review - Conclusion
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