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Assassin's Creed Odyssey Review! (long but thorough)

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This past Sunday at exactly 200 hours I earned my plat. Jump right in the review. Starting with game play (reason for this)

 

GAMEPLAY

Assassin's Creed Odyssey takes place during the Peloponnesian War, specifically the first phase, the Archidamian War. It is not just used as a setting but as a game play element as well. Every region is under control by one of the two opposing powers. That Nation's Power; a total measurement of soldiers, resources, money and leaders, is represented by a purple bar. As you destroy assets related to the Nation's power (marked as purple icons) the Nation will fall from Fortified, Weakened, and then Vulnerable. Bringing it down to the weakened phase opens it up to be taken over in the games pretty cool "Conquest Battles", Large scale battles that feature "supposedly" 100 warriors tearing  each apart (putting the nation in a vulnerable state before doing a conquest battle makes them easier). The rules to these battles are simple; Kill enemy soldiers as fast as possible. Each side has a health bar, and every time a soldier falls the health bar is depleted. Killing Generals drains the health bar quicker, so focus on them. Once the battle is won, you are rewarded a large amount of experience, money, and loot and on top of that you can further loot all the dead bodies left behind for a bonus. Something funny; when the conquest battle becomes available you don't have to fight on the opposing regions team. You can choose to side with people that you were previously just bringing down and they will welcome you with open arms.

What side you fight on does not matter though, because you play as a Misthios (mercenary), and your only motive..... is to loot the whole fuckin Greek world! The map for AC:O is huuuuge! Let me tell you how huge. You start the game off on the relatively isolated Island of Kephallonia, which serves as the tutorial chapter. Once your business is finished there, you move on to the mainland. I was there around 20-25 hours in when I finally got to that point. From there I decided that I just wanted to explore and absorb the open world and I would not come back to the story until every "?" on the map was uncovered. At 155 hours, the journey was complete. Over 130 hours it took me to that. Damn. Those "?" can range from: bandit camps, tombs, temples, shipwrecks, cities, villages, fortresses, caves, whatever, it's all there. You are given objections when entering these places that need to be completed if you want to "clear" that area; kill leader, save prisoners, find this, get that, ext. Though there are a lot of different types of places to infiltrate, there is not a lot of variations to those places; You seen one military camp, ya seen em all. It is not absolutely bad, just makes doing certain types more boring because you are going in with a plan because of been there done that (never happy to see a tomb). What makes them easier to deal with is that everything you do is rewarded with loot, experience, money, and resources for crafting (needed for ship and weapons/armor) and you want all that. Which such world a big world I was a little worried about transportation but because that was an issue for me in FFXV, but was I immediately put at ease, because your player character is one with environment. There is no type of terrain that he cannot travel on. Runs turn into vaulting over fences, climbing mountains only to dive bomb off them into lake and the  back running. It all looks to so awesome. A perpetual moving force. I like starting at one side of a big city and trying to get the other side without touching street level. You have a hoarse but I only called him probably like 10 times in 200 hours. Just no need for him. For really long distance travel there are fast travel spots that you can unlock by perching on a variety of places, more then 100 of them.

Now don't think that you can just run around killing and stealing everything in sight. In the wrong area this can could cost you. Like GTA, AC: O has a bounty meter with 5 levels. Each time a level is a achieved, usually by stealing shit with a red dot, and/or killing soldiers who are in control of the region, a mercenary is sent after you, with the level difference increasing the higher the bounty level. You can have up to 5 mercenaries on your ass, and they will track you everywhere; no place they wont come get you. For a large portion of the game these guys are dangerous alone and fighting more then one at a time is death wish. You have multiple options of dealing with them though: Kill them, kill the sponsor which will reset bounty to zero, pay the sponsor off (don't do this) or simply just stay out of trouble and eventually they'll give up on their own. So, who are these other mercenaries? AC: O features a mercenary circuit. You, of course, are not the only mercenary in the world. This circuit is a "climb the ladder" sort of deal where you start at the very bottom and must work your way up to the top. Killing mercenaries ahead of you allows you to take their spot. Killing mercenaries waaay ahead of you shifts everybody to that point up. As you move up randomly generated mercs will takes spaces behind you making sure the world is always populated these guy/gals. The major perks of killing these guys and gals minus great loot is that every tier you get permanent bonuses like 20% off at the blacksmith, greater chance of finding rarer items ext. Under normal circumstances these guys/gals are not aggressive unless you start shit with them. System is cool but I wish they were more involved with game a little bit more in some way. Check this out, what if a Nation who's power was in the vulnerable state started hiring mercs as backup so you come into conflict with them on more occasions then just on your own terms? Just use them more.

If you plan on on being the number 1 mercenary you had better master the combat system, which admittedly is pretty simple. If I had to describe it quickly, it would be a faster paced souls game without a stamina meter. You have 2 attack buttons, light and heavy, which can be combined to create different combo chains. Hold L1 to block attacks or L1 + R1 to counter attacks with a various generous window. Square button is dedicated to a dodge that changes based on if the button is pressed or held and is this semi important. Dodging attacks at the last minute induces witch time for some strange reason allowing you to get in a few combos with extra bonus damage but you have to consider what type of dodge to use. Just pressing square makes Alexios  do a quick side step that has a low amount of invincibility frames but will allow for better advantage of witch time, while holding the button does a full on dodge roll with more invincibility frames but will leave you with less time to take advantage witch time. L2 readies the bow but be warned that there is no true lock with bow. Readying the bow will snap Alexios to his enemies position from that point on your own your own and there is a delay when going from a combo to bow which can be annoying. Lastly you have an special gauge that fills as you attack and depletes when you use any any skills. Each time you level up you get a increase in health and attack power and a skill point to spend on skills. There are 3 skill trees: Assassin, Warrior and Hunter. Build you, I highly suggest Predator Shot, Restore, Shield Breaker, Critical Assassin, and Silent feet for any build. When not in direct combat you will sneaking around stealth killing everybody, my preferred method. Its has nothing on MGS5 but it does a good job. Weak points are how easy it is to manipulate enemies; whistling always works, they react the same way to spotting a dead body (hey whats that? they walk over to examine body, you kill them, repeat), and they don't notice their numbers shrinking at a alarming rate. Regardless though, its immensely satisfying to ghost a whole fortress full soldiers. One thing to note - not all soldiers can stealth killed, some are just to strong and will survive leaving you to finish off what's left of them. They will also let out a battle cry alerting all enemies in the area so be mindful of when you decide to after them. Luckily the game gives you idea of how much damage you will do(does not account for crits) before you go in on the kill.

With all this killing you are going to be doing you had better be swagged out. You will acquire a lot of loot in just a few hours. Hell, you will acquire more loot in the first few hours then you would the whole game in JRPG. Can kinda be overwhelming when its time to update gear. You get so much gear because of the chance to get the same weapon/armor in 4 different qualities: Common, Uncommon, Rare, and Legendary. Just to point out, higher tier does not actually mean better stats just that it has more build in perks then the lower tier weapons. Regardless every weapon/armor allows you to put one perk of your choice on it. There are 4 primary stats, Health, hunter, warrior, assassin, and def and every piece of equipment adds or takes away from these stats, so similar to skills, build you. A cool feature is that it allows you to change the appearance of weapons and armor without changing the actual weapon/armor, meaning if you really like that helmet you have on but have a better one, equip it and just toggle the appearance. This needs to be a feature in every RPG.

When you are not dominating the land you will, with lots and lots and lots of money and resources, be dominating the ocean. You get your very own ship that you sail around the Greek world in real time with. I was so blown away by this because I am so used to playing Japanese games where stuff like this is automated. As cool as it is, it suffers from the same problems as Wind Waker; sailing came be pretty boring. Unlike land where there are multiple distractions to keep you engaged while on your way to your destination, sailing does not have that luxury. You might get a small story by the lovable ship owner Barnabas or listen to one of them many Shanties that your crew will sing but ultimately it's  my least preferred way to get around. I found myself just using fast travel over having to sail somewhere towards to end of my Odyssey. The only other thing is ship battles and why I commend them on making them very simple and fun, your ship starts off waaaaay to weak in the beginning and it takes a lot of money and resources to make it a beast.  I enjoyed it much more when I maxed my ship out. The other element is gathering  crew. All those guys/gals that you can kill, well you don't "have" to kill them; instead you can knock them out non lethally and have them join your crew where based on the quality (common,uncommon,rare,legend) offer various perks with dealing with sea battles.

 

STORY

Depending on your choice, you play as Alexios or Kassandra.  Kassandra is surprisingly treated as the canon character as a heads up, but I choose Alexios. As young boy,  Alexios and his infant sibling were thrown off Mt Taygetos as his father watched and even assisted, on orders from the Oracle as part of plan to prevent a prophecy. Miraculously, he survived and with nothing but a tiny boat fled Sparda to Kephallonia where he was taken in and raised by Markos and from there he spend the next 17 years doing odd jobs, growing his talents as a mercenary. His chance to leave comes in the form of an eccentric man named Elpeinor who offers him the chance of a lifetime; Kill the Wolf of Sparda and be rewarded beyond his belief. He accepts, only to realize that the Wolf of Sparda is his father. This is not a coincedence and Alexios goes to seek answers. What he finds is troubling; Elpeinor is part of a shadowy organization called the Cult of Kosmos, who wishes to unify the Greek world under one banner, they want his bloodline wiped out and are currently searching for his mother, and his long thought to be dead sister is currently a weapon for cult. Great setup but if I had to describe the story it would be fun and energetic, but lacking any substance. Like a Micheal Bay movie. Story is most engaging when it ties the Cult of Kosmos  to historical events that happened during that time and how they interpret famous Greek celebrities. Story moves at a fast pace, but that fast pace is enabled by lots coincedence. A big part of the story is killing all 44 members of the Cult of Kosmos. More than half are optional and ready to be killed the minute the game is started. On your travels, you will probably run past or even kill a handful. Before I even got the tab that lets me keep track of cult members I had killed 12 already without realizing it. All story locked ones are introduced and killed by the end of the short chapters making the cool concept...underwhelming. The story is not bad and I like a lot of the concepts but it does not leave any impression on me. My story is that journey to clear the map. Another "feature" about the game is choice. There are 4 endings that you get are effected by key choices you have to make and by "key" I mean 4. Why do developers keep doing this? You get to make a shit ton of choices in the game, but to find that ONLY 4 matter in regards to the ending makes the inclusion of the feature pointless 

 

PRODUCTION VALUES

I am not a graphic whore, but I have a better understanding of them now. Game is just beautiful and that beauty is intensified by the great lighting engine which baths the lands in this mythical glow. A part of the reason I don't use my hoarse is just to better take in the beauty of this wonderful recreation of ancient Greece. There is a dynamic weather system that goes beyond the scripted its clear skies and sunny :), grey clouds and rainy :(. It has everything in between: light drizzles on a somewhat clear day, heavy rainfall with thunder, sometimes just one of the other, maybe just overcast ext. A great simulation on what real weather is like. Cloud simulation is great as well; the way the sun shines through clouds after a storm has passed leads to some great shots (L3 button for photo mode) The ocean is also effected by the weather leading to rougher waves, which leads reduced travel speed and tougher ship battles. You guys know that one time I actually pulled the ship over and waited for the storm to clear? I don't think I have ever done that in other game. Where the game is most weak is the character models for non important characters. They look straight out of PS Home. Another bad spot is NPC's that are voiced; same face model but different clothing/hair. I get that they are not gonna do face/voice work for every individual quest giver but at least get more than 3 male/females face voices. It's laughable when the quest giver is the same one from the previous quest just with long hair. Voice acting is good all around. Apparently all the VA's are from Greece, pretty cool. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I love the game. It is one of those highlights of this gen for me. I want to say that is not just awesome game but a successful venture into type of game that I would usually pass on. If you have been playing AC since its beginnings I don't know if the impact will be the same, regardless you are walking in the a damn good game. If you have never played an AC before or fell off, this is the perfect game to step in with. Odyssey is sun a appropriate sub title. One hell of a adventure I had with this

9/10

 

 

 

 

 



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Nice review! I've been wanting to get this one, but I've had other games I'm more interested in. Sounds like they've added a lot more depth to this series since the last time I've played.



     

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