AS­SAS­SIN’S CREED ORI­GINS

De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Ubisoft (Mon­treal) For­mat PC, PS4, Xbox One Re­lease Oc­to­ber 27

EDGE - - MULTIFORMAT+PC@E3 -

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

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