The heart of it all

As­sas­sin’s Creed: Ori­gins

GAX (Malaysia) - - TEST - By John Law

When the As­sas­sin’s Creed fran­chise took off a decade ago (has it been that long al­ready?), Ubisoft’s then-new IP served as lit­tle more than a spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to the widely suc­cess­ful Prince of Per­sia se­ries. Oh, how the tides have turned.

Sure, As­sas­sin’s Creed lets you park­our around the en­vi­ron­ment to com­plete your mis­sion ob­jec­tives, but what re­ally drew in the play­ers into each sub­se­quent in­stall­ment were the re­cre­ation of his­tor­i­cal sites and land­marks, as well as the at­ten­tion to de­tail that went into link­ing facts with fic­tion to form the se­ries’ ever-ex­pand­ing nar­ra­tive.

What the se­ries has yet to re­ally ex­plore was (you guessed it) the ori­gin story of the Brother­hood – un­til now.

Set in Egypt thou­sands of years prior to Al­tair’s in­tro­duc­tion, As­sas­sin’s Creed: Ori­gins re­layed the tale of Bayek of Siwa in me­dias res, as a Med­jay (read: guardian) on the hunt for a shad­owy group of masked men for whom he blames for the ac­ci­den­tal mur­der of his son.

Bayek’s thirst for vengeance, how­ever, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Upon find­ing and elim­i­nat­ing one of the masked men, it is shown that he feels con­flicted, as mem­o­ries of his son ap­pear just as the life of his tar­gets be­gin to fade into the Egyp­tian un­der­world of Duat, hov­er­ing over his ac­tions.

One im­por­tant thing to note is that, like Ezio and Con­nor from the sec­ond and third main­line As­sas­sin’s Creed ti­tles, Bayek doesn’t be­gin his ca­reer as an As­sas­sin, sim­ply be­cause the As­sas­sin Brother­hood has yet to ex­ist. The same goes for the Tem­plars. In­stead, the main an­tag­o­nists op­er­ate from a shad­owy group known as The Order of the An­cients. Like the Tem­plars, they rep­re­sent the op­po­site end of the spec­trum from the As­sas­sins: where the lat­ter would kill a sin­gle per­son for the free­dom of the masses, the Order seeks

to con­trol so­ci­ety as a whole, through any means nec­es­sary.

Over the course of the story, Bayek will come across sev­eral prom­i­nent fig­ures of the era, such as the leg­endary Queen Cleopa­tra, Julius Cae­sar, as well as Ptolemy XIII, the vain and naïve younger brother of Cleopa­tra, among others.

And as with pre­vi­ous As­sas­sin’s Creed ti­tles, Bayek’s ac­tion (and his wife, Aya’s) play a piv­otal part in shap­ing the his­tory of Egypt and the Ro­man Em­pire (if you’re un­sure about what hap­pened to the Egyp­tian and Ro­man Em­pire, now would be a good time for you to check out Wikipedia). One of the many new changes that you’ll no­tice with Ori­gins is its ex­plo­ration me­chan­ics and nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem. Open-world ex­plo­ration has al­ways been a prin­ci­pal fea­ture of the fran­chise, but with Ori­gins, play­ers are af­forded a new level of flu­id­ity, both in move­ment and nav­i­ga­tion, that seems re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Even the min­imap is gone, re­placed with only a com­pass at the top of the HUD.

Per­haps the big­gest de­par­ture that we’ve seen in Ori­gins is in the com­bat sys­tem, and it’s quite a re­fresh­ing change. It’s a mix be­tween The Witcher III’s com­bat sys­tem, along with Ubisoft’s other fan­tasy ac­tion ti­tle, For Honor. En­e­mies no longer

CON­CLU­SION As­sas­sin’s Creed: Ori­gins takes a step in a new di­rec­tion for the bet­ter.

swing wildly at you, and nei­ther can you. They don’t just stand there do­ing noth­ing (well, not all the time) ei­ther. When faced in full-on com­bat, you have no choice but to get tac­ti­cal and de­fen­sive, and it’s at this point that you re­al­ize just how far the com­bat sys­tem has pro­gressed since 2015.

It didn’t take long for us to get a hang of it, and af­ter a while, it was fun get­ting Bayek to per­form hard-hit­ting, at­tacks on his tar­gets. And you’re not just rel­e­gated to a sin­gle sword and dag­ger ei­ther. With Ori­gins, the gloves are quite fig­u­ra­tively off on the weapons trees. Ubisoft took great pains to al­low play­ers to choose from a plethora of swords, dag­ger, shields, bows, and the more dev­as­tat­ing polearms, axes, and lon­greach­ing spears.

It’s a wel­come change of pace from the triedand-tested hid­den blade mo­tif that has long dom­i­nated the As­sas­sin’s Creed uni­verse (Syn­di­cate be­ing the only ex­cep­tion), and is start­ing to feel a lit­tle stale.

With that said, the op­tion of hid­den blade as­sas­si­na­tion is still avail­able, as well the op­tion to up­grade both your weapons and ac­ces­sories as you make your way through the game. Lastly, there are some in­ter­est­ing mini-games within Ori­gins, such as chariot racing and trea­sure hunt­ing.

The leap of faith: a must-do for all as­sas­sins.

No time to rest. Egypt needs me.

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