Assassin's Creed Origins Reviews

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Slam Shot Sam
622,539 (336,183)
Slam Shot Sam
TA Score for this game: 2,036
Posted on 06 November 17 at 00:24, Edited on 06 November 17 at 00:25
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Assassin's Creed Origins | Xbox One | Review

After breaking away from the annual release cycle last year to put a mediocre film out instead, Assassin’s Creed Origins sees the series triumphantly return with a sequel-come-prequel that cures the rot which had begun to take hold.

Origins sees you take control of Bayek, an Ancient Egyptian peacekeeper seeking vengeance against the shadowy group that wronged him and his family. It’s an engaging, if familiar, main thread that mixes fiction and non-fiction in signature fashion to convey the story of how The Assassin Order came to be formed.

While you’ll spend most of your time inside the Animus reliving the memories of Bayek, on occasion you’ll also leave the machine to join a new present day protagonist. These brief sections provide a breather and plenty of optional lore to consume, which Assassin’s Creed diehards will no doubt appreciate.

As an aptly-named origin story, this game’s setting is the series’ earliest yet. Throughout the years we’ve visited faithful recreations of numerous real-world locations, but none have been quite as impressive as 48 BC Egypt. The iconic region has long been requested by fans, with Ubisoft rising to the occasion by crafting a vast and beautiful open world.

From bustling cities, to barren deserts and the Great Pyramid of Giza, environments are intricately detailed and authentic. The hot African sun casts impressive natural lighting and shadows, whilst an array of local wildlife dynamically interact with their surroundings, helping to anchor you in the simulation.

It’s impressive stuff when you consider the map’s sheer scale - a scale that’s seen Origins’ movement system modified to help with traversal. You now sprint as standard, rather than needing to hold a button down, and can effortlessly climb almost any surface without need for specific handholds. A mount at your beck and call, boats that spawn close-by when you’re stranded in water, and abundant fast travel points all further aid in making Egypt an easy and enjoyable place to explore.

Ditching the intrusive minimap for a minimalistic compass, as well as swathes of boring busywork for more meaningful side quests and activities, has also helped on that front.

From bustling cities, to barren deserts and the Great Pyramid of Giza, environments are intricately detailed and authentic.
Though you’re free to tackle quests in the order of your choosing, if you’re under the recommended character level it’s a good idea to leave them well alone. Their inflated difficulty serves as a gating mechanic to control when you can viably go where, ensuring players aren’t immediately overwhelmed, but also providing motivation to keep gathering experience points and expanding your horizon.

A variety of weapons - each with their own rarity, statistics and status effects - are steadily pumped into your inventory as rewards and need to be swapped out or upgraded regularly. Upgrading weapons simply requires you to pay a blacksmith, though to improve the rest of your gear you’ll need to go hunting or intercept shipments and use the gathered resources to craft their betters.

You’ll put everything to use in the new and improved combat system, which is more satisfying than ever. No longer do enemies take it in turns to attack, letting you counter kill them one by one, but they flank and/or fire arrows as you’re actively engaged in combat. Encounters don’t look nearly as fluently choreographed as a result, but they’re far more compelling.

If you’re familiar with the Souls series or Breath of the Wild you’ll feel right at home with the new mechanics, which, in very similar fashion, see you lock on and avoid incoming attacks in anticipation of a window to launch a light or heavy counter attack. Though it’s more weighty and deliberate, especially when considering the pros and cons of different weapon classes, you can get away with button bashing for the most part.

Certain types of bows can be seamlessly integrated into melee bouts, while others are better served for stealth, but all of them shed the slight feeling of ineptitude ranged weapons have carried in Assassin’s Creed previously. It’s always been far preferable to take enemies on at close range, but Origins changes that, with a headshot being just as quick and deadly as your hidden blade.

Speaking of, stealth has seen a few small tweaks as well. Similar to Metal Gear Solid V you get a brief window of slow motion in which to eliminate an enemy after being spotted, plus you’ll now scout areas from a bird’s eye perspective as Senu, your eagle. Replacing Eagle Vision with a literal eagle’s vision is a better contextual fit and eliminates any ugly screen filters, all while offering up an animal companion to bond with. If Senu strays too far, however, you’ll often need to sit through a loading screen when you warp back to Bayek, which can be off-putting.

Covert infiltrations can also be made easier by utilising the dynamic day/night cycle to your advantage, as many guards retire to bed at night, generally making patrols lighter. An ability can be purchased from the skill tree that lets you change the time of day at will, while you can also unlock a range of familiar tools like poison darts and smoke bombs to further bolster your arsenal.

Combat encounters don’t look nearly as fluently choreographed as before, but they’re far more compelling.
All of the items and abilities available through the skill tree are tempting in their own right, pulling you in every direction and prompting careful consideration for how to invest your attribute points, as the best role-playing games do. Getting all of the abilities you have your eye on will take a while, which is good for longevity, though can feel ever so slightly like you’re being pointed towards Origins’ microtransactions when the game gently reminds you about its storefront.

That said, the implementation is nowhere near as egregious as some recent examples, and you’re given 200 of the premium currency for free. There are loot boxes, but they’re bought with in-game money, plus choosing to complete a daily online quest essentially awards one for free.

While Origins is the best Assassin’s Creed since Black Flag - also maintaining that game’s excellent naval combat - we’d have liked to see more polish from a title that spent twice as long in development. Glitchy animations, clipping, pathing issues and freezes are a few examples of problem we shouldn’t be seeing. While those are here to stay without a patch from Ubisoft, the impending release of the Xbox One X should at least help cut the lengthy loading times down whilst polishing the already shiny visuals.

In spite of the issues it preserves, Assassin’s Creed Origins is a successful soft reboot that comes just in time for the series’ 10th anniversary, modernising the Brotherhood’s adventures by taking inspiration from recent greats like The Witcher 3 and Destiny. It’s very easy to lose hours at a time to Origins’ improved combat and stealth systems, not to mention the wonderful setting, motivated by the developed RPG mechanics and a soundtrack with a touch of whimsy. Here’s hoping Ubisoft keep building on this foundation instead of running the new look Assassin’s Creed into the ground.

Pros

+ Gigantic, beautiful Egyptian setting
+ It isn’t absolutely crammed with meaningless tasks
+ Improved melee & ranged combat systems
+ Play your way with a variety of upgrade paths
+ Removes arbitrary barriers to make traversal & parkour totally painless

Cons

- Combat encounters can occasionally devolve into tests of button bashing endurance
- Still has a few familiar technical issues despite an extra year in the oven
- Well-trodden narrative structure & character archetypes

9/10

Achievements:

Assassin's Creed Origins is more time consuming than challenging when it comes to achievements. Expect to spend 50+ hours finishing everything off, with Old Habits (complete all locations) being the big commitment. If you work towards that from the start and remain mindful of the miscellaneous achievements along the way, Origins is a simple enough 100%.

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Originally written for Pass the Controller, a physical copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.

You can check out my PlayStation reviews over at TrueTrophies.

Thanks for reading!
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Sigma 3815
153,477 (86,251)
Sigma 3815
TA Score for this game: 2,036
Posted on 17 November 17 at 04:09, Edited on 17 November 17 at 04:12
New solutionThis review has 3 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Since 2009, and for almost 6 years, an Assassin's Creed game was released in the latter months of the calendar year. When Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed released in 2007, talk of a sequel was highly anticipated. Two years later, in 2009, Assassin's Creed II was released and garnered incredibly positive reviews. Many fans of the series still considered II to be the best of the series, enhancing the gameplay, elevating the story, and building on the environments and foundation that ACI had set. Since II was released, Ubisoft released a main-series Assassin's Creed title every calendar year until 2015, with the release of Syndicate.
Lack of polish, yearly installments, and direction of the gameplay and story slowly led fans to lose interest in the series, with the exception of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, another game many fans consider to be the best of the series. Ubisoft decided not to release a new game in the 2016 year, instead opting to release one in 2017. That 2017 release was Assassin's Creed Origins.
Story
The narrative of Origins takes place in Ancient Egypt, 1st century BCE to be specific. The story centers around Bayek of Siwa, one of the last remaining Medjay, guards of the Pharaoh and protectors and helpers of the people. He is married to a woman named Aya, who herself is a capable warrior. Together, they had a son named Khemu, but he was murdered by the hands of mysterious people with an ambitious goal. The prologue begins with Bayek visiting Siwa after attempting to hunt down the people who murdered his son. Bayek's personal motivation in the story is to be reunited with his wife, who is usually off dealing in political matters and extracting revenge on those who killed his son. Bayek soon finds himself dealing with an ancient collective, Pharaohs, queens, empires, and dictators in his quest for revenge.
The story/narrative of the game is probably one of the weaker parts of the experience, relative to the other elements of the game. Bayek is at times one-dimensional, and the main story missions shouldn't take too long to complete. The villains and antagonists of the story are also quite weak, never having an impact such as Al Mualim, the Borgia family, or Haytham Kenway did in previous installments. A redeeming quality of the antagonists is the dialogue exchanges between them and Bayek during fighting sequences, as well as the bizarre post-death dialogues the series is famous for. Bayek has his own personal struggles, and his character becomes more well-rounded the more side quests the player completes. Any twists and shocks also fall a little flat, especially when compared to twists in other Assassin's Creed games. The modern-day story present in every Assassin's Creed game does not add anything particularly riveting to the narrative as a whole.
Immersion/Setting
As stated before, AC Origins takes place in 1st Century BCE Egypt. For context, that is almost 2500 years after the Pyramids of Giza were built, 300 years after the Greeks and Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, and a couple decades before Augustus became the first emperor of Rome. AC Origins does a tremendous job of the setting and immersion. Ubisoft is one of the best in the business at creating environments (see Watch Dogs 2, Far Cry 3+4, South Park SoT+FBW), and they do not fail to deliver here. The mystery of the ancient kingdoms, the decline of the Greeks, and the rise of the Romans are all present within the game. Egypt itself is also a vast and diverse land, filled with deserts, rivers, cities, and ancient wonders. Alexandria seems like a Greek masterpiece, while Cyrene is like Roman advancement. The diverse landscape, immense map size, and bustling cities, and rural outskirts and settlements are truly fascinating. Also, Greek and Egyptian mythology is also heavily present, being able to explore both Greek and Egyptian temples worshiping their respective gods. One of the stronger narrative points is actually the stone circles, a world-wide quest involving aligning stars and Bayek teaching his son Khemu about the Egyptian gods, from famous ones like Anubis and Osiris to lesser known ones like The Great Twins and Taweret.
Gameplay
The combat in AC Origins has been overhauled with a "drastic change in paradigm," according to AC Origins Game Director Ashraf Ismail. Indeed, the combat system has been drastically altered compared to previous titles. Far gone are the days of having enemies take turns doing one attack and having the player do an immediate kill-counter with the hidden blade or strong weapon. Enemies are more aggressive, have good front-range detection, will send more than one person to attack, and have reinforcements join them. The weight and power of the weapons are surprisingly well-balanced, as heavy weapons like maces and axes definitely feel more sluggish but powerful compared to twin daggers. The combat has been getting mixed reviews, with some claiming that it is lack-luster, and others claiming that it is a breath of fresh air. Depending on the player, the combat can be seen as either, but with the right equipment and right investment, combat is a welcome change to the series.
Another staggering change is the RPG-esque leveling and gear system. Much like many AAA games today, players can invest in gear by acquiring loot boxes purchased by real-world money, but I found this quite unnecessary. By the mid-point of the game, any player can have a strong primary weapon and bow suited to his or her playing style. A positive of the gear system is that health and strength is not determined by the look of the gear. AC Origins has implemented a Tomb Raider-style hunting and resource gathering system, and gear can be upgraded to objective standards with resources such as hides and bronze and iron. With the plethora of outfits the player can acquire throughout the game, players can have a real sense of control over Bayek's look and feel, without feeling too constrained by the stats of the outfits. Arguably the best part of this new gear and leveling system is the ability of blacksmiths to upgrade any weapons or bows or shields to Bayek's current level, which means that any sword or bow with a nice perk can be retained into the late-game portions, even if acquired in the early-game.
Whenever Bayek levels up, not only does his health and damage increase, but he also obtains ability points to be used in skill trees, a mechanic not unfamiliar by many gamers today. The skill trees follow the classic Melee/Ranged/Utility paths, and by the late-game, players can have a real sense of what works for their particular style of play. Anything from mighty bruiser to swift archer to devious trapper are all viable options to be explored, so players truly have a large degree of freedom with which to tackle areas of the game. Eagle Vision has also been replaced with literal Eagle vision, as the eagle Senu is Bayek's ever-faithful companion. Senu greatly enhances the player's experience when tackling certain fortifications, and Ubisoft really manages and implements the mechanic well.
Technical
While I am no expert in the technical aspects of the game, I will offer what I noticed. The crispness of the graphics is apparent from the start. Put simply, it is a beautiful game. From the subtle sand physics to the being able to see the Lighthouse of Alexandria in the horizon, the team behind AC Origins really did a fantastic job of polishing the game. The lighting and shadows is tremendous, even the tiniest details being noticed. This kind of work is not easy, especially given the scope of the map. Players can take hours exploring the map, with lush colors of the water to the dark depths of the tombs and pyramids long in the past, and none of it would feel clunky or rushed. Here are two screenshots I took of the game, just in passing. One displays the excellent scope of the landscape, and the other shows off the shadows and lighting of the game.
External image

External image

The music and score of the game is subtle and sometimes not noticeable, but it does an excellent job of immersing the feel and atmosphere of Ancient Egypt. Long strung out minor chords layered with harmonic scales can be heard for anyone with an ear for the technical side of the score.
The voice acting is also quite well done. If one examined the credits, one would see a diverse cast involving voice actors of Greek, Arab, and European descent. The accents of the voices are authentic, far more polished than the AC titles with American accents in the Middle East, forced Italian accents, and English accents in France. Being of Greek descent myself and understanding the language, I can say that the Greek is well done, with many of the words, names, and places being pronounced authentically and accurately. The English however, could probably have more of an accent to it when Greeks are speaking it, but that is probably coming from personal bias of mine. Ubisoft and the developers really went out of their way to make sure the voice actors and the accents were done with a feel for the setting. The only negative side to that is possibly some words/phrases that might seem out of place in the ancient world, such as the phrase "creeped out" (Credit to Youtube Channel ACG for noticing that).
As far as bugs/glitches are concerned, AC Origins actually is pretty good with having a fully finished product. While some freezes/clipping/pathing are noticeable (I had to restart the game once or twice during my playthrough), it is definitely an improvement from the glitchfest that has been the identity of previous AC titles (eh ehm Unity).
Overall
Asassin's Creed has been a staple of the gaming world for almost ten years now, drawing both an incredibly enthusiastic yet critical fan base. Any series that has had as many installments as Assassin's Creed can always have a certain amount of buyer's fatigue, so Ubisoft's choice to refrain from releasing a main-series game in 2016 was an incredible decision. Fans of the series can feel refreshed at the renewal of a favorite of both the casual and hardcore gamers in the gaming world. While an overarching story can be difficult to achieve with so many titles and a lack of concrete finish or ending, AC Origins manages to pass by, albeit being one of the weaker aspects of the game. The game absolutely excels at creating an immersive and dynamic environment, filled with diverse locations and areas. The new system of gameplay in regards to combat and gear has its positive and negative aspects. Combat is faster and fluid, but can seem a little underwhelming at times. The gear system caters nicely to players at all levels of the game, but can feel a little grindy and can do without in the micro-transactions and the loot box system. Players have a lot of freedom and control when it comes to overcoming obstacles, with very few technical bugs and glitches to get in the way. The music fits the setting, and the voice acting and writing has improved compared to previous installments. Bayak, along with Senu and Aya, can sit comfortably in an Assassin's Creed game that is the best since Rogue and Black Flag, with many appreciating their character and environments that have renewed the faith and confidence fans can have in the series moving forward.
4.5/5
(My scale for score:
5/5 all gamers should consider; 4.5/5 all fans of the genre should consider; 4/5 all fans of the franchise should consider; 3.5/5 all dedicated fans of the genre should consider; 3/5 all dedicated fans of the franchise should consider)
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