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  • Writer's pictureCourt Lalonde

Assassin's Creed Mirage Review

Basim's first look of Baghdad as a hidden one
Basim looking at Baghdad

Assassin's Creed as a franchise started in 2007 as a story stealth game and has evolved into a full-scale story-driven RPG over the years. With Assassin's Creed Mirage, Ubisoft wanted to bring you back to how the franchise first felt and give us a smaller game length, with more stealth focus and less levelling system. During this review, I'm going to walk you through the story, level design, combat, and the big differences this game has over its predecessors. Ubisoft is taking risks with this release after the success of Valhalla and leaping into this busy fall gaming season.

Assassin's Creed Mirage is a story about a character we first met in Assassin's Creed Valhalla, which is Basim. They somehow make him look a lot like Jake Gyllenhaal from Prince of Persia in this game. It wasn't my first choice of a character I needed to know more about, and the rumour was that it was supposed to be DLC for Valhalla. They give his back story as he comes from the streets of Baghdad to his place among the hidden ones. I will not be spoiling anything from the story because I feel any fan of the franchise does love an Assassin's Creed story told by Ubisoft. I do feel it started out slow, but the story ramps up as you play and takes you to some unsuspecting places. If you're mainlining the story, you are looking at 18-20 hours of playtime. In previous Assassin's Creed games, you're looking at a 70-90 epic RPG. Mirage is not that, but it does have its place in the sorry line as one you want to know about.

Basim ends up being a more complex character than I gave him credit for and someone that I would like to see more in future games if the story permits. He isn't an Ezio or Cassandra, who I find to be the best characters ever written into an Assassin's Creed story, but he does add depth and another perspective to the story.

The main character, to me, isn't Basim, though, and Baghdad steals the show. How alive they make the city feel is something I haven't seen in an Assassin's Creed game since Unity. The rooftops to the bizarre feel so alive and real as you're traversing through the world. I noticed that each MPC they have created has its own conversations, and I didn't seem to find them saying the same lines in different areas of the city. The level of detail in each area has astonished me a brought life to the game. The bright and colourful rooftops made for some great photos in photo mode.

I was lucky enough to attend the Assassin's Creed launch party at Ubisoft Montreal and listen to Raphael Weyland discuss how they brought the city to life by making sure how historically accurate it is. Raphael Weyland is the historian who worked on Assassin's Creed Mirage. Weyland gave them advice so that the team over a Ubisoft could create assets that were authentic to the time period. So much from that time period is made to feel dark and dreary, but the world of Baghdad in Mirage was colourful and vibrant and made me want to know more.

Assassin's Creed Mirage
The desert of Baghdad

I played Mirage on performance mode as I do in all my games when the option is available because I feel it does offer the best gameplay experience, but there is a quality setting if you want 4k 30 fps, but I went with 1440p with 60 fps. I think you need that extra FPS because one of the biggest differences is they changed the combat system and made it feel more like the original Assassin's Creed games. They have made stealth more of a focal point than the more hack-and-slash Valhalla was. They brought back the parry system and gave you colour indicators in combat to either parry or evade during battles. Yellow indicates you to parry, and red tells you that you need to evade.

Gone are the enemy level numbers that are the RPG element they had been going with in previous games, and you only must deal with a health bar and different enemy types. You also have a stamina bar that, when fully used, you can't attack your enemies and are left vulnerable. The skill tree isn’t as large as well, and you can re-assign those skills at any time. I even changed my skills earlier in the game to match the play system I needed for the mission. Your tools are a must, and by completing various contracts around the city, you can get the necessary resources you need to upgrade them. As always in an Assassin’s Creed game, there are collectables, but some help you unlock skills, weapons, and tools. Pretty much everything on Basim can be upgraded along with your tools, which have different levels and perks to choose from.

One of my favourite perks of your tools is making enemies disappear after killing them. This is a must to remain undetected. With all these collectables, it leaves you with a lot to unlock on the map and do. It also allows you to either mainline the story and clean up after or do all contracts and acquire collectors to upgrade Basim and make the story missions a lot easier. The focus on a more stealth play-through is evident with how each mission is laid out for you to complete, and most of the contracts require not to be seen. So, make sure you’re hiding in the bushes and whistling to take down enemies to get some extra goodies. Make sure you’re doing all killings in the shadows because villagers will see you and your identity meter will go up, making it easier for enemies to spot you. You can go around and pull down wanted posters like Assassin's Creed games of the past to lower your notoriety. You have a new focus bar that, as you upgrade, will allow you to do multiple silent takedowns of enemies and make it look like Basim is in the Matrix as he goes from one enemy to another, being undetected.

Gone are the days of Valhalla when you’re the same level as a character you can go in, axe a blazing, and take out enemies. You’re going to need to map out each takedown and try and take out enemies one by one because if they sound the alarm, you will get swarmed and die.

They wanted this version of Assassin’s Creed to feel more like the original, and they did a great job doing so. Right down to jumping off ledges for no apparent reason and clunky traversal mechanics. The traversal looks a lot like Unity but less smooth and sometimes feels forced.

The game loop is like any other Assassin’s Creed game before it but does have that more nostalgic feel to it which I miss. Basim wasn't my first choice as a stand-alone story, but I did grow to love him, and Baghdad looks like an area I’ve been to before in their games. For a non-full-priced game, you get a lot of bang for your buck.

I’m biased because I love some Assassin’s Creed games, so I’m having trouble putting it down but having a hard time getting past how much I don’t enjoy Basim as a character. You're fighting the order, but I do miss taking down the templars and that story they once tried to tell. From my playing time, I would recommend this to anybody who likes Assassin’s Creed game. Heck, anyone who likes stealth collection games.

In the end, I was happy with my play-through of Assassin's Creed Mirage, but It's not going to be my game of the year. My hope is Ubisoft builds off this and makes shorter games that are stealth-focused but still give us those epic RPGs every once in a while.


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