Assassin’s Creed: Origins – Review
Follow Genre: Action/adventure
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox One X, PC
Tested on: PlayStation 4

Assassin’s Creed: Origins – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Great atmosphere thanks to the music, the combat and the scenery
Bad: Cleopatra's voice acting
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Assassin’s Creed goes back to its roots with the latest installment: Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Long gone are the times of the numbered entries and they’ve been replaced with titles that envision their purpose in the series. The first one to do so was Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, the third part of the ‘Ezio Audittore’ storyline, which failed to truly reveal anything and ended in a rather abrupt -and frankly dissappointing- modern time cliff hanger and was then followed by another numbered entry after which only titled entries were released. Assassin’s Creed: Origins also took an extra year of development, so instead of another yearly entry this one has been released two years after the last one, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, and took a total of four years of planning, writing, coding and developing.

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Story

You play as Bayek, an Egyptian Medjay, which is like a police officer chosen by the people and they are in charge of protecting the Pharaoh, but he doesn’t just stop there, his definition of his title is that he has to protect everyone who is in need of it, every citizen of Egypt. In one of the development diaries the developers used the word ‘love’ when it came to the amount of detail they put into their creation. This is the first thing that shows in the writing and the story of Assassin’s Creed: Origins. The game starts in media res, but doesn’t take too long to show its true colors, and boy is it gruesome. Gone are the days of dead parent syndrome Ubisoft held aloft like a trophy, and here are the days of new plot points. Be ready to be shocked, the last time Ubisoft did something like this was Assassin’s Creed III, where Haytam turned out to be invited into the Order… of Templars. Assassin’s Creed: Origins manages to even outbid that shocker and drops a bomb so explosive you’ll be hard pressed to hold on to your controller in awe.

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Bayek actually feels like a person, he’s flawed, he has sides to him that are best hidden, but aren’t to the players, like a shared guilty pleasure. Then there’s the total likeability of him, and that’s something all of the characters share, again the time and effort the developers and writers took to write this Egyptian epic really, really shows. It’s not just ‘hey lets make the main protagonist likeable and funny, and call it a day. Let the interns write the conversations for the other characters. See you next year for Assassin’s Creed: Paycheck.’ Even the npc’s feel like they should have full fledged games dedicated to them.

The quests take notes from The Witcher III’ as some of them are rather quirky and not all of them fall under the ‘go here and murder everyone’ category. It’s nice to know that Ubisoft takes notes on how to maintain a tone even when throwing in some lighter elements. It makes the darker and more grim elements of the story even more gritty.

Graphics

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is the most beautiful 3rd party single player focused game of 2017 hands down, when it comes to the PlayStation 4. Horizon: Zero Dawn was pretty too, but that was a first part development and a console exclusive game, so harnessing the power of a single console and unearthing all its secrets to make a game as smooth as that isn’t as difficult as making a game for both consoles and PC and make it polished and run decently. You don’t have to spread your attention three ways and can focus on one thing. Again the love of the developers shows itself in the little things, from the sheer amount of npc’s -you rarely come across clones in the crowds- to the fluidity of the movement in all of the characters.

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As much as it would be great to say that the game runs without glitches, this is a Ubisoft game so some glitches are bound to persist, not so badly as in the previous game, where only eyes or teeth were shown instead of a face, or characters disappeared completely in some cutscenes, with only subtitles to show for what was going on. There’s a glitch where the character just stops moving altogether, stuck in the movement he was last seen in, usually when running, this creates hilarious results. Waiting it out tends to rectify this one. There’s also parts where the game’s framerate tanks during combat, and fighting in single digit framerate is absolutely abhorrent. It needs to be said that the framerate drop was after a six hour play session and the ‘stuck in running’ animation only happened three times in said session. When playing in shorter bursts you might come across the ‘stop motion’ glitch. There are no ragdoll physics cockups and with a game so vast, this is rather surprising.

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When talking about the cutscenes, there’s a level of detail where the developers took attention to even the littlest of mannerisms. There’s a cutscene where a character coyly smiles and slyly winks at Bayek. This might seem like a ‘so what?’ thing to some, but there’s not a single game where it has been done so fluidly, in such a manner that if you blink you’ll miss it, where it doesn’t feel scripted. The team behind animations really deserves not one but two pay raises. Early on you’ll sometimes see scorpions scuttle across the hot desert baked rocks. When you trod on them they are actually flattened and dead. It’s ridiculous how much attention there is to something so little, but the creator behind it must really have been into his job to make it as realistic as possible.

Sound

The voice acting in Assassin’s Creed: Origins is nicely done, it sounds a bit like they’ve gone for ‘English with an African dialect’, without stretching it to such an extent that it becomes insulting or over the top, but it works. There is however one glaring oversight in the voice acting, Cleopatra has a British accent. This is unacceptable, they put in so much work in typecasting the right actors, and then they just throw a wrench in it by putting in a posh British speaking woman in her shoes. It’s like the whole Arno thing in Assassin’s Creed: Unity. It’s been said before Ubisoft, if you are going to do voice acting at least keep it consistent. Granted it was more laughable when it was done in Assassin’s Creed: Unity as Ubisoft is actually a French company so having American voice actors for a game set in the French revolution was just hilariously misguided, but this is just as preposterous.

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The music on the other hand is just like any other AAA game with lots of attention to its world building, it fits. The strange thing about soundtracks is that if they are good, you’ll be hard pressed to notice it, and you’ll have to strain yourself to pay attention to it, but if it’s bad you’ll immediately pick up on it. If you just play the game, you’ll hardly notice the music when it starts and when it stops, giving you ample time to enjoy the sounds of nature as the screeching of your hawk, the scratching noises of scarabs and scorpions and the hissing of the snakes and crocodiles take over.

Gameplay

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is an action/adventure game. The hiatus the developers took from their usual routine of pumping one out every year has really paid off. It’s a breath of fresh air that mixes things up enough for newer players while still staying true to the long time fans. It’s a little Farcry when you take over encampments and search for materials, with a little ‘The Witcher III’ with its questlines and just a dash of Dark Souls combat difficulty, even on easy. That’s another new thing to this entry in the series, a difficulty setting, so should you struggle you can tone it down, but if it turns out to be too easy, you can up the difficulty on the fly in the options menu.

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You are a Medjay, and seeing as this is the beginning of the franchise, just to be clear, the ‘assassins’ don’t exist, although their tools do. So the game doesn’t give you the hidden blade from the get go. You’ll get the bow and a weapon and you’ll have to go into combat with these. From the tutorial on you’ll immediately get the ‘Dark Souls/Bloodborne’ feeling from it as you weave between enemy attacks and look for an opening to take them down. Failing to find an opening means you’ll have to create one, by bashing their shields away or by parrying their attacks. If you want to be stealthy, there’s that option too, before you get the hidden blade, you can use the bow to strike from afar. Three kinds are available to the player. There’s the ‘semi automatic’ among the bows, which lets you shoot quickly but do smaller damage, then there’s the hunter bow which does decent damage but takes time to charge, and then there’s the type of bow that shoots off multiple arrows at once, like a shotgun, catch an enemy with those up close and they will surely go down like the Roman Empire.

There’s a great variety of weapons, there’s the fast kind of blades, the slower weapons which do massive amounts of damage and the in between weapon types. Some weapons have extra effects, like fire and poison or being able to break through shields, opening up opportunities. Shields help you ward off damage, and they too, can have extra effects, just like the weaponry.

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Weapons and shields can be found on enemies or out in the world in chests, and can be switched out for stronger versions, the older ones you can disassemble for items you can use for upgrading your gloves, breastplate and hidden blade. You can also buy items from blacksmiths and a traveling vendor. If you’ve taken a shine to a certain blade or blunt weapon, you can just upgrade it and up the damage on it by paying for it. There are some items you can buy with in game credits called ‘Helix Credits’ and you can earn these by playing the game. It’s like lootboxes, only you can completely omit buying the higher level gear by entering your credit card details. So Ubisoft doesn’t bank on the sweet microtransaction money.

The point of Assassin’s Creed is vengeance. Just like Assassin’s Creed II, Bayek is all about bringing to justice those who have wronged him in a rather lethal fashion, so they can sail down the Duat, the Egyptian equivalent of the river Styx.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is large, and it’s open world from the get go, so no boundaries to where you can go or any reason to not go wherever you want to. There is one little catch to that statement however. Enemies have levels assigned to them. In Dark Souls/Bloodborne, you could sail through places with enemies several levels higher than yourself, or even fight enemies that are way more powerful than you are, heck that’s the whole point of it, but in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, enemies with levels just two levels higher than you, will not stop until you are wrecked. If it’s just a one on one, you can still try and weave, duck and brute force your way through the encounter, but usually enemies come in droves, so you can bank on getting turned to mulch before you even had a chance at a second blow.

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Something that’s also different from the previous entries, eagle vision meant that you got to see enemies light up as everything else turned to a neon blue, making enemies and points of interest all the more easy to discern. Assassin’s Creed: Origins takes things to a more literal level, where eagle vision is the view from an actual eagle, your second best female friend Senu. So you get to track enemies, points of interest and hunting game and materials from the skies.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins also harkens back the first entries in the series as there is also a modern time protagonist, which is really cool and the gameplay in modern times is also quite nicely done, it doesn’t feel tacked on and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Just smaller events in between acts break up momentum and give the players room to breathe in between quests and story missions.

Conclusion

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is what happens when a development team takes the time to deliver something that’s really finished instead of rushing its project to cash in. If you are looking for a game that marries several games together and manages to take the best parts of them then this is your game, if however you are looking for a more generic Assassin’s Creed experience, where blocking and parrying gets you through every encounter, then this won’t be the game for you, as enemies don’t wait for one another to attack but all jump in on the action and have fun wreaking havoc upon you.

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Assassin's Creed: Origins - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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