Used Bin Review — ‘Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ Sets a New Standard for the Series

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After playing Assassin’s Creed: Origins I don’t understand how Bayek isn’t in the Assassin’s Hall of Fame. Seriously, he goes unmentioned in all the previous lore. Yet Bayek invented putting on for your city – he had all of EGYPT on his shoulders! The developers had your man out there looking like the Michael Jordan of murking people. If you’ve been waiting to pick this one up from the Used Bin, now’s your chance.

Gameplay

The gameplay for Assassin’s Creed: Origins is the best the series has ever offered. There is an overall fluidity to the movement throughout the world. Running looks natural, you know, like it’s a hard thing to do for long periods of time. Transitional motions are fantastic, whether that’s going from a breakneck run on land and slowing to a wade in shallow water or being on horseback and going from a beaten road and slowing in the woods. A lot of thought went into nailing the fine details and minutiae. I’d have to say the use of blurring objects in motion like birds and sails makes for beautiful gameplay. Maybe that’s just how they fit this game into the limitations of my antiquated Xbox One OG.

This installment of Assassin’s Creed has the most dynamic combat system of any of the games to date. By far. By giant leaps and bounds. Once upon a time, I perfectly parried about thirty guards’ strikes in AC: Revelations – just saying. Origins does away with the auto-lock combat system and forces the player to make those choices mid-fight. The updated combat mechanism makes it a challenge to strategize high level fights up to the very end. Back in the day at mid-level I could just run into a fort and catch mad bodies – Origins had me looking at the enemy totally different. Add to the new system the incredible diversity of enemy character types. I mean there were dudes with axes, folks with axes and shields, gangs with axes that would switch to bow and arrow when I started to run away… By end of game – they were lighting arrows in fire! Suffice to say, when I died in a battle or ‘desynchronized’ – it was well earned. Also, they never should’ve given players ‘predator bows’ – they’re like the sniper rifles of Mesopotamia. I had Bayek looking like Green Lantern John Stewart popping the trunk.

This game is gigantic. When I first started, I paused to get some water and the world map was onscreen by default. I zoomed out to see where I was in the world, then zoomed out some more. Finally, I  could see there were areas that were obscured or ‘fogged’ on the map. I had to explore damn near all of North Africa! I enjoyed every minute of traversing ‘new’ terrain.

Additional Characters

Playing as Aya is a revelation.

Aya’s gameplay is pared down from Bayek’s and includes this entry’s version of naval battles — against the Roman fleet. The naval stuff just gets better and better each time Ubisoft gets around to it. AC: Origins had me about ready for an entire naval combat game.

A brilliant addition to the overall game was the use of Senu, Bayek’s homie, aka a fucking pet eagle that holds you down.

Senu is the Swiss army knife of aviary best friends. Do you need to find some treasure? Underwater? Call Senu. You wanna size up the next fortress, identify everybody and everything they got? Call Senu. Feeling like the world of humans is just too much to deal with? Just tap ‘up’ on the D-pad and let your girl Senu catch flight. In-game and just in general, it’s a very relaxing experience to become Senu and just be in the scenic, quiet sky.

Sound Design

Ubisoft stepped its game up on sound for AC Origins, from the simplicity of the hidden blade unsheathing to the complexity of The First Ones projecting hard light constructs in midair. The sounds of nature are everywhere in the game and do well to ground the player in the world of Ancient Egypt. Every detail was accounted for, down to the scraping of Bayek’s shield against the stone surface of a crevasse as he slides down a cave wall.

Story and Voice Work

Compelling from the opening cinematic, Assassin’s Creed: Origins has one of the most amazing stories of the franchise. Aya and Bayek’s relationship is the realest shit you’ll see in video games.

When they are on-screen together I can hear Method Man and Mary playing in the background. There is a narrative complexity in AC: Origins that almost eclipses all other entries in the franchise, just short of AC: III. The voice work, particularly with Aya (Alix Wilton Regan, who was also the voice of the female inquisitor in Dragon Age: Inquisition) and Bayek (Abubakar Salim), grabs you and brings you into the story and makes you feel like a part of it.

Voice is just another detail well covered as Bayek travels across areas of land occupied by Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and North Africans. All of those accents are maintained throughout gameplay. NPCs and minor characters are acted well, even with that thing AC does with background voices repeating the same three or four phrases.

Bugs/Janky experience

There are these weird moments that just jack a whole game up. Assassin’s Creed is not immune. It’s nowhere near as terrible as Mass Effect: Andromeda with the bugs, but there are moments. I had to restart a few missions and infiltrations, after being like twenty minutes in. Sometimes the game just defies physics.

In Conclusion

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is the new benchmark for the franchise. Ubisoft nailed the lore of the series and alongside that did justice to the joined histories of Egypt, North Africa, Greece, and Rome. The game is gigantic in its scope and geographic scale. From the harsh desert sands to the lush Mediterranean beaches Assassin’s Creed: Origins brings the mystique, history, and open world joy of Bayek and Aya’s vengeance to the forefront of an impressive game.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins gets 8.5 trained eagles out of 10

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