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Assassin’s Creed Mirage Review

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We are in the fifteenth year of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Having started back in 2008 as a Prince of Persia-style affair, it fast changed into the time-travelling original narrative that many fell in love with. 

Since then we have countless games taking us across different timelines and continents, from France right out to America. It has also spawned books, comics, an ill-fated film, and an upcoming Netflix show. But until the release of Mirage, the franchise has had the longest of breaks; it being three years since the launch of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Assassin’s Creed Mirage promises much though; the chance to head back to the original gameplay roots of the first games for one. But is it one step forward and two steps back?

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Baghdad looks glorious

The last three Assassin’s Creed games – Origins, Odyssey, Valhalla – shaped the franchise into that of an RPG. They gave players the opportunity to wander vast worlds, to level up and work upgraded loot, multiple enemies, and hundreds of hours of gameplay. Many fans loved this new direction, but there were others who left like the original bones of the series – the assassinations and stealth – had gone. And so it looks like Ubisoft will, going forward, produce different types of Assassin’s Creed games, catering to both markets. And that is where Mirage comes in. 

Focusing on a character we first saw in Valhalla, we are in the shoes of Basim. We see him first in his youth, working as a thief for a Fagin’s gang of similars. But, as in all of these games, his path is changed by something called the ‘order’ and he is hunted down. The ‘Hidden Ones’ who we know as the Assassins take him under his wing, training him up to be one of their own. Then we are into the mysteries of Baghdad, tracking down members of the Order of the Ancients.

The story found in Assassin’s Creed Mirage is good, much more focused than other games and running over a fifteen to twenty hour playing time. But, honestly, even with the condensed nature it didn’t grab me as much as the epics that have gone before it, nor as much as the travelling from the future to the past of the early games. Basim – as a character – failed to click for me, even though the writing is good and there are some fantastic quests on offer. 

The gameplay comes with some great mechanics, as you get to work the stealth tactics on offer. You will be doing a lot of crawling and hiding and going from rooftop to rooftop. You have an eagle friend to scout the area and look for any quest points, openings, doorways, and of course enemies. And very much like in other AC titles, it’s very focused on sneaking up behind foes in order to assassinate them. You can also utilise a whistle to attract those foes into bushes, as you look to perform your dastardly deeds. 

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Chuck a smoke bomb and get out of there…

And yes, there are tools to help you. They work well with the stealth as you go throwing knives from afar, chucking smoke bombs, and pulling off noise traps. The verticality of the cities help with this stealth gameplay and it’s a brilliant back-to-form for this element of the mechanics. Of course, you can also blend into areas; moving through crowds unseen, sitting on benches, and paying people like mercenaries or musicians to cause distractions. 

In terms of the combat itself and it hasn’t got any of the RPG elements of previous, most recent, games. But there are weaker and tougher opponents as you move through Mirage, as well as some tougher boss battles. You have light and heavy attacks, as well as a parry and dodge in your arsenal. I found the combat a bit trickier than normal, but relished this; the option of not running in and killing everything allows for more tactical ways. It gets better still when you utilise specials to action multiple quick-time kills. 

The most interesting part of Assassin’s Creed Mirage is when you have to assassinate one of the orders. There are multiple ways of doing this with many options available to you. You can cause distractions to lure them out and environmental hazards to kill your target. It’s here where Mirage reminds of the Hitman games; something which isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s an intriguing setup and one that requires strategy, planning and a bit of thought. Getting caught in a huge fight normally ends in disaster, so using the eagle to plan is essential. 

Assassin’s Creed Mirage looks very good. The cities are full of interesting layouts and areas, complete with enjoyable places like the bazaar and fortresses. They are absorbing places to explore, but I also enjoy the history lessons you get from the era and locations. Character models are well worked, but it’s when you get out of the cities and into the deserts where the sunsets and sunrises begin to stir the heart. Perhaps Mirage doesn’t quite wow enough in its setting, maybe due to the location, but it’s still a pleasing enough place to be.  

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Explore various avenues in Assassin’s Creed Mirage

And then we get to the audio. The voice work is excellent whilst the soundtrack is superb. For me, it’s the effects from the screams of the dying to the strange hum of futuristic objects you find along the path, that really excel. 

However, for the good, there are moments of Assassin’s Creed Mirage that I didn’t particularly get on with – like the return of the notoriety system where you have a level of being hunted. To get this down you have to rip up wanted posters, or bribe a speaker to talk about you positively. There are also little mini stories – The Tales of Baghdad – that I feel get lost within the main bulk of the game. As a whole, it just doesn’t seem to have the same greatness about it as was found in Valhalla. 

If you’re a fan of old-school Assassin’s Creed, you’ll love what has come about in Mirage, what with the more compact story that is told. Others may still long for those previous hundred-hour adventures though…

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Takes things back to basics
  • Baghdad looks great
  • Stealth
  • Assassinations need planning
Cons:
  • Notoriety system
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Ubisoft
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 5 October 2023 | £44.99
Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Takes things back to basics</li> <li>Baghdad looks great</li> <li>Stealth</li> <li>Assassinations need planning</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Notoriety system</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Ubisoft</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 5 October 2023 | £44.99</li> </ul>Assassin’s Creed Mirage Review
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