Assassins Creed Odyssey, the latest in the series from Ubisoft, shows great potential and willing to pull their franchise out of the slightly stale formula they’ve stuck to for a number of years.
A great part of this game is the drive to get away from the usual Assassins Creed game format, Ubisoft have gone full RPG mode on this one, gone are the weird interlude missions where you play some first person role in an awkward side plot which, in my mind, takes away from the games story, you are straight away told of the ‘changes to the animus’ and given an immediate choice of Alexios or Kassandra, and immediately I chose Kassandra, because let’s face it, gameplay videos pre release showed that Alexios is beyond dull, but at least the choice was there.
Player choice and customization as at the forefront of Odyssey, in fact, probably done purposefully by Ubisoft, but they have more or less directly copied the open world dynamics and core principles from CDPR’s The Witcher 3. A move criticized by many but in all fairness, I think it worked for them, it shows that Ubisoft want change.
The world is vast, probably Assassins Creeds biggest to date, it’s a magnificent world at that, Greece in all its splendour in ancient times, which is traversable in the usual Assassins Creed way, vertically and over rooftops, also with the welcome addition of the Black Flag style ship which you can customize with lots of options. Again, sadly the open world does not give you a sense that you should be careful, allowing you to sail and and run across the map without any real threat or danger.
With as many bad points about Odyssey still comes the good, there are plenty of wow factors, and the scenery is one of them, many many Greek wonders and statues to climb and breathtaking views.
the guise of multiple choice scenarios and decisions that impact the story and consequences
There is a hell of a lot of things to do in Odyssey, a little confusing at first, cult members, mercenaries that will hunt you if crimes are committed regularly, side quests, errands and of course big main quests that take you all over Greece, and all done under the guise of multiple choice scenarios and decisions that impact the story and consequences and such, and of course, unlockable warzone type battles called Conquest battles which you can join either Athens or Sparta in the quest for dominance. Unfortunately the nations battles for leadership do not translate well with the games consequence system, seeing little benefit or change no matter which side you fight for, maybe just for the button bash thrill of combat and war. Saying that the combat is brilliant, plenty of animation and blood spatter, really impresses the brutality of ancient times, and definately displays your characters ferocious side.
Customization is improving with every release, you are now able to mix and match and change head, torso, gauntlets and boots. There is a huge amount weaponry and armour up for grabs, sadly most of it is junk you need to sell to use for materials. In this regard it’s a little pointless unless you like the look of a certain armour set. Armour and weapons can also be upgraded to match character level, although a little pricey lets you keep your favourite gear longer.
Sadly, there are many faults with this release, as comes with larger games, but I feel that there are lots of ways Ubisoft could improve it, otherwise it could of been a stellar release. Ubisoft clearly need to learn patience with a release of this size, and it shows, there are often game glitches and bugs and a few occasions of game freeze (in one conquest battle I was stood there for five minutes with a soldier hitting me, without dying, or being able to move!)
When summoning your horse, it appears behind you as a polygon horse for at least ten seconds sometimes, something that as a big developer and long standing franchise should just not happen, it ruins the game immersion. And last of all, the voice acting – mostly great and in depth, sometimes what really makes you think ‘what the hell was that?’ – A normal AC feature is the ability to lure enemies somewhere for you to take them out by whistling, with the usual intrigued guard coming to investigate. This time the script really does not do this justice, with even one guard saying ‘hey, is someone trying to get my attention?’ Just seems laughable. Don’t get me started on loading times, even for simple quest starting conversations it seems to take a while just to load.
While the game itself is really good, there are a few let downs which make you think that Ubisoft should of spent at least another year or two polishing this effort. Two years was definitely not enough for the scale of the adventure they tried to portray.