ASSASSIN’S CREED ORIGINS
A leap into the unknown leads to revelations
WE DON’T KNOW what’s what. Assassin’s Creed is no longer an annual event, and no longer a game in which you hold down your controller’s right trigger, and run at things. It might take us some time to get over this.
No more right trigger—that now unleashes a heavy attack capable of killing an unfortunate civilian in a single hit. You now run at things while holding the A button down, and this simple switch is just the tip of a whole iceberg of changes.
Ancient Egypt suits AC, what with all those big stone monuments to run at, holding A. It’s a wider environment than the cramped streets of Victorian London we slunk through in Syndicate, bringing back memories of the dreadful ACIII’s forests. But in a good way. The weapons are suitably deadly, too, all with extra effects such as bleeding or poison baked into them. This, combined with gaining XP to level up and put Ability Points into a range of skills, makes Origins feel more like an RPG than the series ever has before.
Playing as the handsome Bayek, you set about assassinating five leaders of a cult-like group, and end up traveling across Egypt, getting into trouble with invading Romans, before becoming—with your sister, in a neat parallel with Syndicate— the first Assassins, and kicking off the whole series. It’s their fault, basically.
The inevitable modern-day sections are forgettable. Apart from confirming that AC and WatchDogs take place in the same universe, they add little other than acting as a framing device for the main action, providing a rationale for why it’s happening, and the usual nonsense about orbs and Pieces of Eden continues to make everyone shrug just as it did in last year’s movie.
Microtransactions are again liberally sprinkled through the game, although it is possible to play satisfactorily without troubling your wallet. There’s plenty available for free, using your Ubibucks from within UPlay to purchase equipment and costumes, and Helix Points in the game to acquire more in-game currency— drachmas, as we’re in the Ptolemaic period when Egypt was run by Greeks—and “time savers,” such as packs of extra Ability Points. It’s starting to feel like we’re being softened up for the day these are no longer optional extras, and are only available in exchange for real money, but for now, it’s a free way of getting additional gear, and doesn’t affect the game in a negative way.
The extra year in development shows, and Origins is the best AC title since Black Flag. The new structure and minimal HUD mean an end to the clutter that got in the way of enjoying the game, leaving you free to hold down A and run, leap, and glide about an intoxicating world.
Your camel, or horse, is an indispensable friend for long desert journeys.
The viewpoints put Photo Mode to good use.
Matching your level to that of enemies is essential.
This Greek has marital problems only you can solve.