WALK like an Egyptian? How about stalk like an Egyptian! Assassin’s Creed Origins was, surprisingly, one of 2017’s best games. It reinvented a series that had begun to slip into ruin.
The release of The Hidden Ones downloadable content doesn’t elevate the game much, but it does give us a chance to revisit ancient Egypt and take our trusty camel out on the road, to ‘bump off’ a few bad guys.
The Hidden Ones is a welcome reminder of how good the core content is, without quite satiating our need for a more substantial continuation to Bayek’s story.
Origins got so many things right, not least of which is the setting. Ancient Egypt is the perfect platform for the series, full of history, mystique and violence, while also being technologically primitive enough to make a lone, athletic assassin a believable threat.
In Ancient Egypt, a man scaling walls and infiltrating highly-guarded palaces seems a lot more acceptable than the same activities in Industrial London or revolutionary Paris.
Beyond the setting, Ubisoft also reinvented the combat and progression in line with modern open-world standards. Assassin’s Creed has become an RPG, for better and worse, without losing its stealthy roots. Combat is now underpinned by weapons, armour and your character’s level, which will satisfy anyone who loves collecting new loot and building the perfect gear-set for your playstyle.
On the other hand, missions are clearly gated by the levelling system, meaning it’s extremely difficult to overcome enemies who are above your station.
Stealth remains the optimal path to success – only by sneaking and using your surroundings and tools to the best effect will your overcome those more difficult enemies.
Ubisoft should be praised for making stealth truly attractive in a modern open-world setting. While Metal Gear Solid V and Uncharted 4 did it well too, they weren’t as expansive.
Finally, Assassin’s Creed Origins gives us the wonderful Senu, the eagle sidekick of Bayek, who acts like an ancient drone, scanning your surroundings from high.
Switching to Senu on the fly (literally) is one of the most beautiful features in recent gaming memory, a meditative experience that sends you from the dirty world of violence below to the clouds above, with the wind whistling around you. It’s a technological marvel that also adds real gameplay value.
The Hidden Ones, as you may have guessed, isn’t worth a review of its own. It adds about two hours of real content to Origins, continuing the story from where that game ended. It is more of the same, but not quite enough of it. Origins content of more substance is planned for the future, so perhaps gamers may choose to wait for that.
In the meantime, if you missed out on Assassin’s Creed Origins first time around, Ubisoft’s tomb raider is well worth a shot.
Speaking of tombs, we’ll all be under the ground by the time Kingdom Hearts 3 gets released. The Disney-driven sequel has been in development for a whopping 12 years, and counting. It’s grown into an absolute monster.
In that case, Kingdom Hearts 3 will be right at home in Monsters Inc, the Pixar animated movie that was recently announced as the latest world to feature in the game.
Developers Square Enix revealed the news at the Disney D23 event in Japan, making Monsters Inc the fourth world to be revealed after Toy Story, Big Hero Six and Tangled.
Along with displaying new Sora, Goofy and Donald skins in the Monsters, Inc style, the developers also revealed that Mike and Sully from the film will feature prominently. Mike can even be used as a weapon in the game.
Finally, while movies can be made into games, like Kingdom Hearts, the opposite can happen too. Nintendo icon Shigeru Miyamoto has revealed why he chose Illumination Studio to helm a potential Mario film.
“As a producer, Chris Meledandri is noted here for movies like Minions and Sing, but he is a veteran with a ton of experience, including the movie Ice Age and stints at companies like 20th Century Fox Animation,” said Miyamoto.
“When I talked with Chris, he said he had read a lot of interviews with me and felt we had a similar approach to creation.”
Let’s hope the end products are of similar quality too.