I’ve mentioned before that my way of destressing from life and from writing is to game. There are times I thank my son for getting me into gaming and other times when I curse him. As I finish my first play through of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, I thank him. This has been one of the most entertaining games I’ve played in a long while.

First things first, I played this on  a PC. Most of my gaming is done this way these days. While there are a few games I’d like to play that are platformers only, there aren’t enough to justify buying yet another gaming system, much less two.

I’ve played other Assassin’s Creed games. Liked some, loved one and others left me pretty much going “meh”. I will admit going into Syndicate, I was more than a little leery. So much had been made of the fact that you could now play as a female for much, but not all, of the game. Then there was all the half-hearted cheering because Ubisoft had put a trans-gendered character in. There were cheers for having such a character but jeers because it was a non-playable character. (For those who haven’t played the game, or who didn’t read the bios in the database, I’m talking about Ned Wynert.) To be honest, other than making the world more representative, the fact Ned was a trans male didn’t play into the game at all.

Then there was the opening screen where Ubisoft welcomes players to the game. I groaned and wondered what I had gotten myself into when it came up. “Inspired by historical events and characters, this work of fiction was designed, developed, and produced by a multicultural team of various beliefs, sexual orientations and gender identities.” All sorts of visions of politically correct ideologies and feminist agendas filled my mind. Even when people whose opinions I trust said to play the game, I wondered if I had been led astray.

Without giving away spoilers, I will admit there was an inordinate amount of evil white males in the game. All but one of the mini-bosses, for lack of a better word, were male. Only a couple of the gang leaders you had to defeat were female. Evie Frye, the female protagonist, is more of a thinker and more worried about consequences than her twin brother Jacob, the male protagonist. In fact, Jacob is a bit of an ass and Evie spends a lot of the game “cleaning up” (her words) after him. That may have been the writer’s attempt to show sibling rivalry but it fell sort of flat to me. I would have preferred them working together rather than at odds with one another so much of the game.

Visually, the game is stunning. It captures the feel of Victorian England. My rig didn’t have any problem handling the specs and that was a definite plus.

The controls were easy to reacquaint myself with and I rarely ran into one of those lousy camera angle problems you get with so many games.

As for the media for the game, I chose to buy a physical copy. I purchased the Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – Gold Edition – PC. This included the game as well as the season pass. That meant I was immediately able to install the Jack the Ripper dlc and The Last Maharaja dlc downloaded last week. Unlike some of the problems the XBOX and Playstation gamers had with their gold edition downloads, I had no issues getting either. Also, buying it this way saved me more than $20. That is a big plus as is the fact you don’t have to play through Steam. Yes, it connects to Ubisoft but you can play off-line and it is easier to configure the game to do so than it is through Steam, imo.

As for the game itself, I enjoyed it a great deal. I have yet to play the World War I extension or the Jack the Ripper dlc, but the former can’t be played until you beat the game and the latter can be played any time. I did play The Last Maharaja and, while good, it isn’t the best dlc I’ve ever played. I am glad it came as part of the season pass and I didn’t pay another $10 for it. Still, you do get some goodies during the missions and as a result of completing the dlc. So it is well worth playing.

Admission time, I did not go for 100% completion. That’s a new one for me and I might go back later to do so. The problem for me is there were too many escort missions and the like. That sort of grinding, especially when you have already maxed out on leveling up, means you are grinding for nothing, especially if you don’t like those sort of missions.

What I did like was being able to switch between the characters of Evie and Jacob. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Evie was more of a stealth character while Jacob was more of the fight ’em and kill ’em. I found myself playing as Evie more often when I was able to choose which character to play. Ubisoft did, however, make it impossible to play as one character throughout the game. Some missions required one character while others demanded the other. That was something I enjoyed.

So, will I go back to play the WWI and Jack the Ripper sections? You bet. I want to see how Ubisoft handled the WWI bit since you play as a new character. From everything I’ve heard, the Jack the Ripper dlc is probably one of the best Ubisoft has done. Besides, the idea of playing the same character 20 years later intrigues me.

So, were there negatives to the game? Sure. I’ve yet to play a perfect game. From time to time, the vocals didn’t quite match up to the mouth movements, reminding me of a badly synced foreign film. During the final mission, Evie is out of her usual outfits (that you earn or buy) and in a ballgown. Clearly the game designers had issues with how she should move. They got the hip swish in but from the waist up, she was like a Barbie doll — little to no movement, arms at a weird angle, etc. But that was minor when compared to all the good in the game.

Some of the missions could get very frustrating if you were trying to hit the additional goals. Timing meant everything in those missions and after several desynchronizations in a row, it was tempting to simply kill the nearby enemy instead of trying to sneak past them. (Okay, I’ll admit I did that on more than one occasion.) There were times I wanted to reach through the screen and smack Jacob because you knew all the work you’d done with him to “help” someone would come back to bite him in the ass.

I’ll also admit that the final boss battle was a big let down. Not to the point of the original ME3 letdown but a letdown all the same. It was too easy and too quick.

I am hopeful that Ubisoft follows this up with another high quality game and have hopes that is what is happening since they aren’t rushing to put another game out right away. In the meantime, I will play the dlc and keep my fingers crossed.

Final recommendation: this is a must have for anyone who is a fan of the series. For those who haven’t played the series before, I recommend this as a great way to spend time in Victorian England.