ASSASSIN’S CREED ORIGINS
Developer/publisher Ubisoft (Montreal) Format PC, PS4, Xbox One Release October 27
Ubisoft’s decision to give Assassin’s Creed a year off in 2016 was a huge one. The series has, after all, become one of the most important entries on its publisher’s balance sheet: its largest seller, on shelves every Autumn without fail, guaranteed to sell multiple millions and offset any disappointments elsewhere on the release slate. Taking this bold step would, you’d think, mean
Origins would emerge from its extra 12 months at E3 2017 shorn of bugs, and with a host of new gameplay ideas. If that’s the case, prepare to be disappointed.
In fairness, with several months of development to go – and the final stages of a game’s creation being one of optimisation – it may not be fair to lay too heavily into this weirdly jerky, uneven game. Yet camera problems in combat are concerning, especially given the extent to which hand-to-hand battles have been overhauled. There’s a heavy debt to FromSoftware’s work here, with light and heavy attacks on the right shoulder and trigger, a face-button evasive dodge, and weighty heft as blows connect.
Yet even in a gladiatorial arena built specifically for brawling, the camera gets stuck on scenery and generally takes up awkward positions. The result is that we frequently look on helplessly as we whiff attacks that looked like they should connect, leaving us wide open to reprisal. That’s a particular problem during a wearyingly attritional boss battle. Commendable as it is for Ubisoft to seek to refresh
Assassin’s Creed’s simplistic combat, we put down the pad after this clunky, stiff swordfight pining for days of old.
Out in the open world, meanwhile, innovation is thin on the ground. Standing on the shore, we’re given the vague location of two objectives; to pinpoint them, we need to call on Senu, our eagle companion. This is ancient Egypt, but Senu is essentially Watch Dogs 2’ s drone with feathers, albeit with a central reticule shrinking as it gets closer to our quarries. One is a sunken treasure, and a dip below the surface quickly yields it. The other is on a heavily guarded ship; we dispatch a few through stealth, then fight the others, and the camera, by hand.
In addition to our mission-critical pick-up, there’s a chest and some corpses to loot, which serves as an introduction to Origins’ gear game, powered thanks to, we assume, some advice from the developers of The Division. Weapons and armour have stats, perks and rarity levels; legendary gear may be new for Assassin’s, but in a wider context the prospect of yet another loot grind hardly sets the pulse racing. Despite the series’ recent woes, we missed Assassin’s Creed last year, and are looking forward to having it back. Let’s hope the final few months yield some much-needed polish.
In a gladiatorial arena built specifically for brawling, the camera takes up awkward positions