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.

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