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Assassin’s Creed Mirage: Returns To Its Roots To Rediscover Its Identity

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Assassin’s Creed is one of Ubisoft’s flagship franchises. Over more than fifteen years, the series has built an impressive legacy in the gaming industry and has had to reinvent itself several times to capture the attention of fans.

Pirates, the Victorian era, ancient Egypt, Greek mythology, and Vikings. The games have visited so many different periods and introduced so many gameplay innovations that Assassin’s Creed has changed significantly since its inception, something that bothers veterans who miss the basics.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage arrives with a different approach:

It pays homage to the first game in the series, abandoning the vast maps to deliver a simpler and more faithful experience to the original. Will this adventure have what it takes to please such demanding fans? Find out in our review!

The Assassin’s Creed series games are known for featuring iconic and charismatic protagonists. Faces like Altair, Ezio, Edward, Kassandra, Eivor, and many others. Mirage doesn’t deviate from the norm and brings us the memorable Basim.

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If you played Valhalla, you’ll find the name familiar and remember that one of Eivor’s allies was named Basim. Here, the story takes place a few years earlier and recounts the character’s journey from a mere thief to a respected member of the Hidden Ones, precursors to the Assassin Brotherhood.

Narratively, the title also follows the original’s idea and presents a more linear plot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it helps in building Basim as one of the most iconic assassins in the series, in his struggle against the Order of the Ancients, the Templars’ beginnings.

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Mirage deliberately embraces the series clichés and manages to convey to the player the feeling of revisiting the original titles, which will be a delight for the most nostalgic fans. However, it also introduces the “Tales of Baghdad,” parallel and optional missions that enrich the experience.

Assassin's Creed

In terms of duration, the main story can be completed in around 20 hours, which is well below the length of the latest titles in the series but in line with its goal of aligning with the early entries. Players will likely finish the game wanting more due to the number of twists and intriguing events.

As mentioned earlier, Mirage is seen as a return to the past in all aspects, especially in terms of gameplay. Forget the vast open world, RPG elements, and elaborate combat. Here, the keyword is stealth.

If you pick up the new game after Origins, Odyssey, or Valhalla, you’ll notice a significant difference in various aspects, especially in combat. Here, you’ll have to make do with quick attacks, strong strikes, parrying, and dodging. On one hand, the simplicity is nostalgic, but it may feel like a step backwards for many players, especially in terms of fluidity.

However, you’ll notice that level design and advanced stealth mechanics return, bringing new elements. Here, the player is rewarded for infiltrating and eliminating targets quietly, rather than causing chaos like a Viking berserker in Valhalla or a Greek warrior in Odyssey.

To stay in the shadows, Basim can hide in various locations, such as bushes and even blend into the crowd, using iconic equipment like smoke bombs to disappear when things get messy and deadly throwing knives to silently eliminate distant opponents.

Assassin's Creed

By stealthily killing targets, you’ll fill a gauge that allows you to use the Assassin’s Focus ability. Essentially, it lets you silently and stylishly eliminate multiple enemies in succession, as you would expect from an Assassin’s Creed game.

Another interesting aspect is thievery. As mentioned earlier, Basim began his career as a thief and has a “light touch” that he hasn’t lost since becoming an assassin. However, now there’s a mini-game where you have to press the right time to steal from your victim. If you fail, be prepared to deal with the victim’s screams and the anger of the guards.

Since Mirage is focused on stealth, openly stealing and killing results in a new Notoriety system. Basically, you’ll gain a reputation as a criminal, and the inhabitants of Baghdad will recognize you and call the guards to arrest you, leading to tense and even comical moments.

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To be left alone, Basim will need to tear down wanted posters and “grease the palms” of informants to spread the word that the assassin is innocent and not involved in the thefts and murders in the city.

Like the early Assassin’s Creed games, Mirage features the city of Baghdad and allows the player to roam freely, whether in the streets or on the rooftops with parkour. This is both good and bad.

It’s undeniable that the title is very close to the old games and evokes nostalgia, but the parkour doesn’t have the fluidity that players find in more recent games. At times, it feels like a dated system with pacing issues, which is particularly noticeable during chases or escapes.

As much as it may seem heretical to say this, I need to remind you that the movement in the early Assassin’s Creed games isn’t as good as many remember it, especially when compared to significant improvements in recent chapters.

Assasin’s Baghdad Chapter

In size, Baghdad covers 2.4 square kilometres, making it close to the recreation of Paris in Assassin’s Creed Unity. Here, players will have a city filled with chests, secrets, and interesting items hidden in every corner. The verticality adds even more immersion, fun, and high addiction to exploration.

If there’s one thing Assassin’s Creed has always done well, it’s recreating the historical periods in which the story is set. Mirage is set in 9th century Baghdad, during the year 861, in a time known as the ‘Golden Age’ of Islamic civilization.

This era was known for important contributions to humanity from scholars in the Muslim world. Scholars, engineers, doctors, and merchants contributed to advancements and inventions in the arts, sciences, and technology.

Assassin's Creed

Mirage not only faithfully recreates the period but also allows players to learn through the “History of Baghdad” feature. It was created in collaboration with experts and features images from museums and historical institutions, under the supervision of historian Dr. Raphaël Weyland, a prominent figure at Ubisoft Montreal.

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The History of Baghdad is divided into five different areas that detail various aspects of the time, such as life at the court, economy and government, art and science, and more. Essentially, it’s safe to say that Mirage is the title that delved the most into the historical period it’s set in.

Graphically, Mirage offers beautiful landscapes, enhancing the player’s immersion, but it’s visually inferior to the latest games. Despite the intention to return to the past, it may seem outdated at times, especially in the facial animations of characters, like Basim himself. Did being released on the previous generation hinder the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions?

On the PlayStation 5, players can choose between quality mode and performance mode. The former focuses on maintaining higher resolution, while the latter brings higher frame rates. Overall, the game maintains a solid 60 FPS, and I didn’t encounter issues in this aspect.

However, there are some frequent visual bugs. While wandering through the city, I saw Basim making strange leg movements and NPCs moving strangely. Another issue is the artificial intelligence.

Ubisoft claimed to have made improvements, but the guards still appear considerably dumb, especially in stealth moments. Many times, I crouched right in front of an opponent, and he either couldn’t see me or ignored my presence.

The soundtrack features magnificent orchestral tracks, and the main theme is a collaboration between the American alternative rock band OneRepublic and the Saudi star Mishaal Tamer.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage fulfils the proposal of returning to the past to rediscover the essence of the franchise, evoking nostalgia among veterans who miss the adventures of the legendary protagonists Altair and Ezio.

The historical recreation of Baghdad is impressive and should serve as an example for other games wishing to portray ancient times, while the narrative brings out the best in the Assassin’s Creed series.

Assassin's Creed

The return of stealth is welcome, but the progress made in combat and parkour is forgotten, resulting in something simpler and less polished, at times feeling like a dated title. In terms of graphics, the game isn’t ugly, but it falls short compared to the series’ latest games.

If you’re accustomed to the new era of Assassin’s Creed, you may have trouble falling in love with Mirage. Fortunately, Basim is one of the best protagonists in the series and will try to win you over with his charisma, if the voice acting allows it.

Assassin’s Creed Mirage will be released on October 5th for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Series S, and PC. The game will also come to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max in the first half of 2024.

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