Have you heard... - iTunes best kept secret - Click Here
MLGX 2017 - You Know Where the Partys At - Click Here
Roundtable - A Divisive Roundtable - Click Here
Review - Who's the Villain Now? - Click Here
Have you seen... - The Community Streams - Click Here
Review - Build It & They Will Come - Click Here
Review - Old School With A Modern Twist - Click Here
Have You Joined... - The Community - Click Here
Review - Wakey Wakey - Click Here
Review - X-Ray Knackers - Click Here

Being a part of Midlife Gamer could not be simpler.

Register and start contributing now!

Login

Assassin’s Creed Origins Review

April 9th, 2018 by

433622-assassin-s-creed-origins-xbox-one-front-coverIt’d be fair to say that Assassin’s Creed had got itself into a bit of bother. Despite arguably being Ubisoft’s headline franchise, the annual iterations were starting to feel samey and each announcement was met with an increasing amount of shrugged shoulders. 2014 saw the release of Unity, widely derided for an astonishing array of bugs and glitches. Syndicate followed on in 2015 but, despite being superior to Unity, it failed to reignite excitement. Ubisoft – to their credit – realised that something needed to be done and delayed Origins by a year.

Was a 12 month delay enough to resurrect Assassin’s Creed, or has it’s time come and gone?

Assassin’s Creed has moved locations a few times since it’s early iterations in the Middle East and Italy and, in retrospect, Ptolemaic Egypt is a perfect setting, laden with mystery and intrigue, some of which are still being discovered to this day. Against this backdrop Ubisoft have created arguably their finest open world environment to date; enormous in scale, but with no area feeling like dead space. There’s superb variation in the locations too; major towns like Alexandria are opulent, bustling hives of activity, dotted with grandiose structures. Conversely, smaller villages reflect poorer living standards, with more ramshackle buildings and blood running into streams from tanneries. Despite the screenshots you may have seen, it’s not all dust and deserts either. Certain regions are covered with lush vegetation, others waterlogged marshes. All combined, Origins inhabits a spectacular world.

In Origins you take control of Bayek, a Medjay – essentially a paramilitary police force – from the town on Siwa. Essentially, it’s a tale of vengeance. Throughout the game he hunts down and kills the group of antagonists, a shadowy collective known as the Order Of Ancients who have ideals on seizing control of Egypt. As the name Origins suggests, the game ties this in with the formation of the Assassin Brotherhood.

As with previous Assassin’s Creed games, Bayek comes into contact with various historical figures from the era, such as Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, and the plot pleasingly interweaves real events from the lives of these figures with the game’s story.  There’s a distinct lull in the story at the mid point, and some of that can be attributed to the difficulties in carrying something for the 30-odd hours it’ll take for you to complete the game, but it’s pleasing nonetheless as a whole. Some of the boss battles against the members of the Order are particularly memorable, taking on scale and mechanics that are pleasingly different from the rest of the game.

20180327232926

Assassin’s Creed games have long been accused of being liberally padded with an assortment of unsatisfying mission structures, not least the dreaded “follow the target over a distance and eavesdrop their conversation”. Thankfully these have been entirely jettisoned, although there is still a heavy reliance on fetching items for minor NPS who you never hear of before or after. Also cast aside is the abundance of collectible items that have incredibly plagued Assassin’s Creed games. No longer will the map be a slathered in an explosion of items that you feel almost obliged to collect, despite offering little to zilch gameplay benefit. It’s a refreshing and welcome change. For the most part this refinement of the missions is a success, but still misses the mark at times. Throughout the game there are a few sections focused on mostly ranged naval combat, none of which feel particularly satisfying or needed in a game where the explicit goal is to get up close and personal to a target and sticking a blade into their skull.

Despite the missions being more mechanically streamlined that previous Assassin’s Creed games, it’s still a meaty undertaking. As previously mentioned, the main story will take about 30 hours to finish, with a complete playthrough taking in all the side quests will add up to closer to 50 hours. There’s a slight frustration in that you can’t really just mainline the story, and will be forced to undertake at least some of the side missions which can be a distraction from what you’re trying to follow. Missions have a recommended level, and attempting them under that will lead to a swift bludgeoning to death. It’s impossible to acquire enough XP from purely playing the story so more often than not you’ll find yourself taking on secondary tasks just to progress the game.

Origins leans far more into RPG than previous titles. Your basic stats, such as the amount of damage you can both deal and withstand, or the number of items you can carry at a time, are upgradable via crafting. This is done by obtaining various types of materials, and obtaining them is a relatively easy task involving hijacking convoys or hunting animals. Thankfully, despite a wide variety of fauna, they create only two forms of materials, with larger animals making hard leather and smaller animals soft. That lack of specificity is welcome because, as often seen in other games, needing to find a particular species to get the particular material you need can be an exercise in frustration.

20180327184654

Weapons are governed by stats too, and you will be impacted if you don’t switch up to something more in line with the level of your enemies. Thankfully there is an abundance of loot throughout the game with many quests dropping new weapons and shields, and they can also be obtained from raiding treasure caches in enemy encampments. If you have a weapon you’re particularly fond of, like I did with a sword that heals on a kill, it’s possible to pay a blacksmith to boost it up to your level. This shouldn’t dissuade you from changing things up and trying the array of different styles, though, some of which come in more useful in certain situations than others. It’s possible to equip two melee weapons and two bows at a time which can switch on the fly, opening up different possibilities depending on the type or number of enemies you’re facing. I was a big fan of the Predator bow which (eventually) allows you to control the flight of the arrow after being fired.

Combat has been overhauled and is more difficult than in the past games. There’s been an overreliance on counter attacks in previous titles, which often led to overly easy confrontations, whilst now here’s now a greater emphasis on dodging and using charged heavy attacks to break defensive stances. Attacks are also moved to the shoulder buttons, with light and heavy melee attacks on the right, and bow aiming and shield on the left. Despite this sort of configuration being used more often these days, it did take me some time to get into the swing of things.

In the current climate, it’s worth mentioning the microtransactions in the game. Despite some early reports, I’m comfortable to say that I felt no need to dip into my wallet at any point. I’ve taken a glance at the in-game store for this review and for the most part it’s very heavily cosmetic based, although there are a variety of ‘time saver’ items, such as crafting materials or hidden location maps, the latter of which feels particularly pointless in an era of immediately accessible information on the internet.

20180311134416

 

Assassin’s Creed Origins is a fine game, a rebirth of a title that was feeling rather stagnant, and probably the best of the series to date. Ubisoft have refined the gameplay, taking out much of the padding, and evolved other aspects whilst still keeping the essence of the franchise alive. I still feel there’s more streamlining that could be done, giving us a tighter and more focussed experience, but I have few complaints for this beautiful Egyptian epic.

8/10

Matt reviewed a personal a copy of Assassin’s Creed Origins on PC. The title was reviewed over the course of 3 months, because this game is bloody huge. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy click here.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply








subscribe to our rss
 

Background -> Godd Todd 2018

Midlife Gamer - Computer Games Reviews - Content By Si Stevens & Digi

Web Master originaljohn in association with Dev Phase