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Assassin’s Creed: Originsis a gorgeous game with really enjoyable gameplay

ANCIENT Egypt is broadly familiar to pretty much everyone, and we’ve all got our favourite version of it — whether it’s Cleopatra on a pimp-tastic barge cruising down the Nile, labourers helping build the pyramids (possibly with alien help, depending which conspiracy theories you like), or even my personal favourite, involving Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz fighting an undead Mummy in the 1920s with an arsenal of vintage guns.

No matter how you choose to envision it, it’s a great setting for fiction and one Ubisoft have taken full advantage of for their newest entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, entitled Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

Released on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Assassin’s Creed: Origins is a gorgeous game, particularly when rendered in 4K on a TV with High Dynamic Range effects via the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X consoles. Ancient Egypt comes alive with light and colour, and feels like the most believable and realistic setting in the franchise so far.

If I had to sum up the Assassin’s Creed series in one word, it would be “stabbing”. The games are about a power struggle between the Assassins, who believe in freedom, and the Templars, who believe control and oppression is the way to bring peace. Both sides also seem to think sharp objects and projectile weapons are the best way to bring about their preferred outcome, too.

Much of their struggle is played out in what is essentially a holodeck, allowing the user to relive the genetic memories of their ancestors or other suitable historical people as they seek out and assassinate opponents.

Then there’s something about alien artefacts and it all starts to get a bit weird, so most people tend to concentrate on the “exploring the past while getting into fights and murdering bad people” aspects of the whole thing.

This aspect of Assassin’s Creed: Origins is handled magnificently. The developers have done an incredible job of recreating Ptolemaic-era Egypt and making it feel like a real, inhabited place with people who have things going on, rather than simply being populated by potential GBH victims.

The newest entry in the 
<i>Assassin’s Creed</i> franchise doesn’t disappoint.

The newest entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise doesn’t disappoint.Source:Supplied

Your character, Bayek, is a Medjay — very loosely analogous to a knight — and takes his role very seriously, travelling throughout Egypt righting wrongs, fighting bandits, assassinating evil doers, riding camels, and carrying drunk people around.

In addition to a vast array of swords, bows, spears, clubs, shields and assorted pain bringers, Bayek also has the assistance of Senu, his trusty falcon.

Senu can be called on to recon the area from above, acting like an ancient Egyptian drone, identifying targets and points or items of interest, as well as giving you the lay of the land.

Some of the missions are a bit repetitive — go here, sneak into this restricted area, stab this dude, rescue this other bloke, run away before anyone notices — but some of them are well done indeed, including rescuing people from hungry, hungry hippopotamuses, tracking down who is selling dodgy religious artefacts at the bazaar, and clearing the name of a wrongly accused temple acolyte.

The attention to detail throughout the world is quite remarkable, and the developers also deserve some recognition for superbly balancing gameplay interests with realism and historical accuracy.

The attention to detail throughout the world is quite remarkable.

The attention to detail throughout the world is quite remarkable.Source:Supplied

A mention must also go to some incredible environmental storytelling too, with the weather playing a key role in scene and atmosphere setting. One standout moment for me was riding through an almighty dust-storm, when suddenly it began to clear and the unmistakeable shape of the Great Pyramid and Giza loomed out of it — it was absolutely incredible.

Speaking of the Great Pyramid — yes, you can (and should!) climb it, and you can even explore inside it. There’s a real sense of discovery about the game, which adds to the reasons to go wandering off and exploring rather than just following the quest markers.

Boldly, the game renders an entire (albeit scaled down) version of Ptolemaic Egypt, so the action will take you from small trading towns to huge temples to major cities to the desert sands to the Great Library of Alexandria itself and beyond.

In fact, there’s actually a discovery mode in the game allowing players to explore the world without combat or missions, and learn about life in Ancient Egypt as well — an innovative first for the series and an interesting step in the evolution of video games from pure entertainment to a form of electronic literature.

You can even explore inside the Great Myramid.

You can even explore inside the Great Myramid.Source:Supplied

Combat is still a bit wonky at times, particularly with a gamepad; I sometimes found myself simply mashing buttons and hoping for the best rather than executing the precision strikes I had originally planned.

Even though the world feels more real than ever before, the fact people don’t seem all that surprised to see a heavily armed man (possibly wearing a snake-themed costume) wandering around town can be a little jarring; there also doesn’t seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason as to why some enemies decide to attack you and others don’t.

Some of the dialogue isn’t great either, coming across as a little uninspired at times, but it’s not enough to detract from the overall experience of the game.

Taking a gap year has done marvellous things for the franchise and Assassin’s Creed: Origins is an outstanding and magnificent game that’s all the better for having had some extra time to ferment into something delicious.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is an excellent game and with the summer holidays coming, it’s just the thing if you’re looking for a reason to stay in the airconditioning and really get stuck into a game.

If you like the series, if you like classical history, if you like exploring, or if you just like a good, rich narrative tapestry, then walk like an (ancient) Egyptian to your nearest games seller and get a copy.

It is an excellent game and with the summer holidays coming, it could be just the thing if you’re looking for.

It is an excellent game and with the summer holidays coming, it could be just the thing if you’re looking for.Source:Supplied

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