ASSASSIN’S CREED ORIGINS / MARIO + RABBIDS / SKULL & BONES / FAR CRY 5 / SOUTH PARK [E3 2017]: Ubisoft!
I was able to spend a solid 15-minutes checking out the latest Assassin’s Creed Origins. While AC has always been a franchise that I’ve held near and dear to my heart (Black Flag was the last installment I thoroughly enjoyed), I tried my best to go in with a blank mindset — trying to not over-hype the game. That said, I was pleasantly surprised. Setting is absolutely crucial in the success of adventure games, and ancient Egypt delivers immense promise. What first caught my eye was how insanely gorgeous the game is. As I’m riding through the desert on horseback, I can’t help but to slow down and observe the detail around me. Pyramids
in the distance, hippos and crocodiles lurking in the water, and the banter of NPC’s. Origins feels like a living, breathing world.
With Ubisoft’s one year hiatus from Assassin’s Creed, they were given the chance to reboot the series and allow players to fall back in love with the franchise. The amount of effort put into the game was made so apparent in the short amount of time I played. Origins feels both familiar and fresh; keeping the core aspects of gameplay, whilst introducing new ideas. Every fan should be familiar with Eagle Vision at this point, but now it’s evolved. Assassin Bayek calls upon his eagle, and uses it as a scout to learn new focal points on the map. Sounds about the same, right? Wrong. Origins’ Eagle Vision is in real-time; players control the bird as it soars, and the world below keeps moving. RPG elements have also been incorporated to the new installment. As you level up, skill points will be awarded. Players are given the opportunity to use these points, and apply them to mold their assassin.
The game’s combat has been reworked as well. It feels much more fluid, and isn’t counter-based as its predecessors. One thing that I always hoped Ubisoft would tweak was the combat; it always felt like a separate stage, as opposed to a seamless transition. While the combat tended to be both surprising and frustrating at first, once I got the hang of it I was able to appreciate it much more. Instead of relying on a well-timed counter attack, Origins’ new combat system requires much more scoping/planning out attacks. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the world Ubisoft created. The possibilities seem endless, and I can’t wait to watch the Assassin’s Brotherhood form through Bayek’s perspective. 4.25/5 Bibles.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the reveal of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. I decided to play it out of pure curiosity, rather than an actual desire to. It looked a little bizarre, and not necessarily in a good way. Turn-based tactical strategy games have never been my cup of tea, but I had quite a bit of fun playing through this Nintendo/Ubisoft crossover. While it may be a cutesy looking game, it was surprising to find that gameplay also had some depth. Battle sequences require you to keep an eye on all players on the field (both heroes and enemies alike). Different obstacles are presented each time a battle sequence commences, and it’s your job to utilize them to your advantage.
There’s a huge emphasis placed on mobility, and how you move your heroes around the battlefield to take down your enemies. Each character in your party develops certain abilities, and it’s up to you to determine the best way/time to use them. The world itself is vibrant and glowing, and it’s exciting to witness the detail put into the environment. In my 15-minute play sesh, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle left me impressed enough to keep my eye on it. It’s a gorgeous little game that incorporates an engaging combat system, and leaves me wanting more. 3.75/5 Bibles. – Amanda Russell
Funny that the “Angelic” mentioned up top that Black Flag was the last Assassin’s Creed to tickle her fancy–it’s easily my favorite one. I miss the game, and completely gave Unity and Syndicate the pass button. Although Origins allows you to traverse through desert streams via boat, there’s not much way of naval combat. Enter Skull & Bones. This new IP from Ubisoft (to which I jokingly call Black Flag II) takes what we loved best from the fourth AC — pirate ship battles — and makes it a full game. It’s this year’s For Honor, to which you remember released to some very good reviews. While details on any possible story/campaign missions for S&B have yet to be confirmed or revealed, the 5v5 combat was engaging enough to give it another try.
There are three different pirate ship classes based on your style preference: the long-ranged arsenal of the Sloop-of-War, my favorite (because I like to stay out of the clear); the high power defense of the Frigate; and the Brigantine for all the Red Bull-drinking, battering ram types. Combat in Skull & Bones is intense, deeply strategic and my initial 10-second respawn gave me a chance to wind up being a hero. Once your gather loot from NPC ships, challenge and damage the weighted opposition just enough, your team of hunters must make a timed book for it out of the realms of unfriendly territory. Those making it out alive get to enjoy all the riches captured of the darkest seas, and those who perish, well, you know the rest. Playing the two matches offered a enjoyable mini-rush ala For Honor, but I’m worried the game will lack any type of depth beyond that. 3.5/5 Bibles.
Oh yes. Your geek culture-critiquing “Monsignor” was more than blessed to spend some QT with Far Cry 5. The game definitely holds dear to the same formula that has made the previous installments a blast to play (and FC3 to an arguable bonafied classic), all wrapped in a juicy right-wing fundamentalist death cult skin. The first thing I noticed being dropped into the fray of this small Montana town was how creepy the vibe was. Methodic church bells ringing and Wyatt Family looking extremists beating; this might be Far Cry, but it’s GHG’s Far Cry. Regardless of the traditional formula, we’re going to enjoy the fuck out of this Preacher-meets-True Detective style romp. You must choose a sidekick: there’s one, Grace Armstrong, sniping from the watertower; one, Nick Rye, dropping bombs from an old World War plane for ya; and.. a dog, Boomer. I got to try them all, which lead my protagonist to “go to town” with three differing strategies.
My favorite, unsurprisingly, was a callback to Fallout 4; choose the mutt, let him sniff shit, distract and take down a few rednecks, and go full frontal assault. With the pup’s help, I finished the demo in less than 5-minutes (to which the demo handler described as “the fastest of the day”). My BCD experience wasn’t so successful, but just as thrilling. After a brief cutscene with a local bartender, we’re told to find Mr. Airborn himself; I pull up my truck using it as cover, and after a combination of timely headshots and some stealth/melee theatrics, Nick gives me the opportunity to take the cropduster to the skies, with a pair of missions that include dropping bombs of my own onto some dickhead silos and a tough, but exilarating, one-on-one dogfight. With news that wetsuits (yes!) and animal sex (um, yes?) are included, I only long to see what “plan of prayer” our new villain has in store on February 27th. 4/5 Bibles. – Travis Moody
I guess the #E32017 demo was an answer to all the talk that Ubisoft’s latest trip to South Park, Colorado would be heavily censored. If changes/threats/warnings have already been issued, Matt Stone and Trey Parker still went and managed to make the most absurdly profane game yet–just the way we like. South Park: The Fractured But Whole takes 10-year old aspiring Superheroes, your Sidekick/New Kid and Captain Diabetes(!!) into the bright lights of a… strip club. Here, they “infiltrate” two toasted white collar cheesepuffs for information in exchange for some full-on air bagel lap dances. Oh. Yeah. That. Happens.
The turn-based engagements return–deeply ana.. appreciated–with some surprising loopholes thrown in the mix. There’s one stripper, after the six or so you gotta mow down, who’ll confront you who waits no turns (i.e. she moves in real time) and she’s the scariest damn mini-boss I’ve ever witnessed in a game. Insert cry laugh emoji here. The puzzles in the 30+ minute demo also felt more challenging and rewarding than anything I remember from The Stick of Truth, while the combat now has movement around the “squared circle” and feels more tactically striking. This may be a South Park game, but the challenge should give you a rush, with plenty of chuckles and signature “SMH” moments. If you can stomach the sickness, this might be the wholesome goodness you’ve been looking for. 3.75/5 Bibles. – Travis Moody