by James Toal
I want the Assassin’s Creed series to succeed. There’s not a bone in this body that desperately likes to see projects fail. However, this mindset doesn’t blind me to aspects that obviously need time to fix and polish, before they are released within a month. The latest entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise is Origins, which takes place in ancient Egypt. I managed to get my hands on this game at EGX and hopefully the positive aspects I found from my experience shine bright and excite fans, while the negatives get worked on and fixed before it hits the 27th of October. I will add that it was made clear the game was in its Alpha state, but the nearing release date does leave a worrying notion that all these issues may not be fixed in time.
The game opened with your character, Bayek, on horseback in the desert. We’re left to explore the open world (or a finite amount of the open world given its current build) as we head towards a populated area of the map. The visuals of the environment and models look beautiful and I simply couldn’t wait to climb to the highest point to gaze upon it all. Sadly, the first big negative made itself known as the framerate dropped significantly once buildings, villagers, and wildlife struggled to be rendered on screen. This wasn’t even a one-off moment either, this happened multiple times during the playthrough. If that wasn’t bad enough, my game froze for a surprising three seconds while I was following another character on a horse.
The framerate continued to fluctuate as I saw what missions the game had to offer. The first task I ran into was proving the innocence of a priest who was accused of stealing golden statues. This led me to my trusty bird who suspiciously acted like a similar bird in Ubisoft’s other game, Far Cry Primal. Anyway, while in bird mode you can scout ahead of your objective and mark objects or people of interest. That can range from enemies guarding an area, or the object you have been tasked to collect. The crouch to sneak aspect had returned from previous entries, while the parkour feels a lot smoother.
The thought of running through this new environment and exploring every corner does fill me with excitement, and climbing to a tower to just let the view sink in, did leave me feeling impressed with the sheer scope of it all. The combat, on the other hand, felt like the most unique difference in this series. Now you can fight with light or heavy attacks; moves it’s easy enough to defeat an average enemy with. The counter move didn’t seem to be present, or rather wasn’t necessary during my time, as spamming the attacks got the job done easily enough.
This is slightly worrying. Assassin’s Creed’s combat wasn’t exactly the most innovative. But, people at least appreciated the style and intricate animations that took down an opponent. This feels like you could smash the right trigger button to your heart’s content. I’m sure there are probably more ways that combat diversifies itself later in the game. However, why is that what Ubisoft decided to show? If this is what they are content to show people early on, then what does that say about the game when it’s available to the public at full price?
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was the mark in the series where Ubisoft took a break from their yearly release of the franchise, to focus on overall quality and adapting to newer game engines. Is this the fruits of their labour? It might be time to ask if they need another year to work out all the bugs. A year might be asking too much. But, would you rather a year to make sure that the game you’re releasing for sale is polished, or a month? I know which one I’d pick.
Based in Canada
Founding date: Mar 31, 1997
Oct 27, 2017
PC (Microsoft Windows) / PlayStation 4 / Xbox One