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Letters from the Front

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In 332 BC, Alexander the Great conquered Egypt with little resistance and was welcomed by the Egyptians as a deliverer, Alexander’s administration was based on an Egyptian model and based the capital in Alexandria, Alexandria became the seat of learning and culture, revolving around the Library of Alexandria and the Lighthouse of Alexandria lit the way for many ships that were coming in for trade as the Ptolemies made commerce and enterprises that made revenue their utmost priority, a lot what we see now  in the Western world came from this era.

The Cleopatra era began with Cleopatra ascending the throne at the age of 18 upon the death of Ptolemy XII, she reigned as queen philopator and pharaoh with numerous male co-regents from 51 to 30 BC.

The fall of the Ptolemies’ began with the rise of the Roman Empire, they chose to  ally with the Romans, a pact that would last over 150 years and at the death of her father, Cleopatra and her brother ascended to the throne but their relationship began to deteriorate. Cleopatra was stripped of her title and of her power by her brother’s advisers and fled into exile, in exile she would raise an army and attempt to reclaim the throne.

Julius Caesar left Rome for Alexandria to stop the civil war that soon begin, Egypt was one of Rome’s greatest suppliers of grain and other resources, and a Civil War would have a great effect on trade. When he stayed in the palace, Cleopatra came to him in secret wrapped in a carpet allegedly and she counted on his support and soon Ptolemy XIII was defeated in the Battle for the Nile and he would drown in the river and she would reclaim the throne.

History is full of stories that hasn’t been told and that is true when it comes to videogames, videogames tend to play it safe alot of times and stick to what they do best like setting the sequel in the same timeframe like contemporary or far future, stick to what’s best and then go back to the roots after the fanbase gets tired of it, but when a game goes farther back in time to a point in history that hasn’t been seen before in a videogame is kind of cool, maybe revolutionary. Assassin’s Creed: Origins is exactly that, a game that goes beyond the traditional and goes to a place where we’ve never been before which is Ancient Egypt.

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At first, I had reservations about the setting of Ancient Egypt, rather than the age of the pharaohs and pyramids that we all know. Ancient Egypt is an interesting point in the history of mankind, with Greek and Roman influence sweeping across the land and changing Egyptian culture. Ancient Egypt works well game-play wise as well, it makes for a stunning open world and staggering, the variety of the world and the feeling of vastness, is unlike anything that the franchise has done before and anything that Ubisoft has brought to life before. Origins is a rare game that belongs to the ages, that belongs to a set of games that has a real sense of journey to them.

The world is vast and offers a great sense of adventure and exploration than the closed city spaces of other games in the franchise like Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s rendition of Paris in the 1780’s or it’s rendition of London during the Industrial Revolution and as I’m going through it right now, it never ceases to amaze me.

I’ve always felt that Assassin’s Creed as a franchise has always had interesting settings, but not very memorable or distinctive ones for that matter. Ubisoft has always lacked far behind the open worlds of Rockstar’s and Bethesda Game Studio’s, with streets and numerous spots that felt like they were just copy and pasting this street and this alley to another spot in the game world. But in Origins, that remains but once again, the vastness and the variety makes for a different open world if that makes sense, you don’t see much of the “copy and pasting.” like you’ve seen in games like Unity or Syndicate. The open world is refreshing here, it feels like I’m playing Assassin’s Creed: The Witcher and that’s a good thing.

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At first I also had reservations about how the world is divided up into level-based areas that means you’ll get insta-killed by higher level enemies, and Origins has a very MMO feel to it, where a common enemy is easier to kill in the region you’re in but the same enemy in a different part of the world is a god, but if you stray into the region the game won’t lock you out and you can still see all the sights and visit the iconic landmarks like the Pyramids of Giza.

Egypt is a huge, gorgeous space to explore, even on a horse and on foot. Fly over the area with your eagle and you see deserts, mountains, and the iconic landmarks scattered across the horizon. No other Assassin’s Creed game has this variety and then with a press of a button, you go back to Bayek and realise that the game world is packed with details, the attention to detail is spot on.

Like I said, Origins belongs to a rare set of games that have a real sense of journey to them. On the other hand, there are things I actually don’t like about the game such as the combat and the leveling system and the crafting system which feels too similar to other games but I put up with it because the game is fun and enjoyable.

The franchises’ trademark of busywork remains here but it’s worth it and it’s worth to play it because of the setting alone. Assassin’s Creed: Origins breathes new life into this tired and old franchise, and that is why Origins is my Game of the Year of 2017.

See you all in the beginning of 2018. Have a great Christmas and NYE.

 

 

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