Assassin’s Creed is among Ubisoft’s longest-running franchises. Over time, the series has evolved in a number of ways. The earlier games had a clear focus on stealth, with the whole idea of an assassin being to make stylish kills from the shadows. However, with a dozen mainline games and even more spin-offs, it makes sense why the developers would want to branch off into other styles of gameplay.
However, as a result, more recent entries in the Assassin’s Creed franchise like Valhalla and Odyssey, might be completely unrecognizable to the fans of the originals. Sure, some core elements like synchronization have continued to stay along for the ride, but for most fans, these newer games are Assassin’s Creed only in name. Because of this, there’s been a demand to return to the “good old days”, where stealth reigned supreme.
Enter Mirage, Ubisoft’s attempt to cash in on the nostalgic crowd. Quite literally marketed as “a return to the roots” of the franchise, Mirage is essentially Ubisoft giving long-time fans of the game what they want. However, it’s clear that the franchise has drifted so far away from the original games in the series, that Mirage fails to replicate them in any capacity. In the end, it feels like a weird mishmash of the new and the old. Here’s why.
Move Like A Butterfly… Or Don’t
Part of the charm of the original AC games was their fluid movement and parkour system. As an assassin, you’re supposed to fly along from one edge to the next with effortless grace. That hasn’t always been reflected through the gameplay that well. And Mirage almost entirely misses the point. Ubisoft has missed out on any attempt to innovate or revitalize core aspects and systems in the game.
As a result, you’ve still got the same issues that exist in titles that are more than a decade old. In some ways, Mirage tends to feel less polished and glitchier. Take, for example, character movement. To give off the impression of an assassin, every step should be precise. Yet, Basim in Mirage not only feels stiff when moving but also highly glitchy.
Probably the best example of this is the fact that even in Ubisoft’s own gameplay showcase, the stiffness of the parkour is fairly visible. Fans noted the issues with the parkour in the game early on, even calling it out in videos of their own. One fan even took the time to perfectly explain why the movement in the earlier games felt so much better than it does in Mirage.
It doesn’t matter how fast it moves, what matters is that it moves without kinetics, it accelerates in the air like an anime doll. The quality of the animations ten years ago was a head higher, in the first to Unity parts. At that time, the animation provided a physical model, the hero accelerates and moves according to the forces he applies to it, the hero skids, he corrects himself when he falls to his feet, springs up when he jogs. This was kinetically correct and looked beautiful, but what we have now is a super Mario with a gas pedal up his a*s.”
Assassin’s Creed Mirage takes entire systems from the Ezio trilogy and slots them right in. For example, the social stealth system is back. Basim is able to blend into crowds, allowing him to stay hidden. However, just like the original games, Mirage fails to make any great use of this mechanic. While the idea of a blade in the crowd sounds fun, Ubisoft has had a hard time making any good use of it over the years.
Outside of a handful of moments in missions, social stealth is incredibly hard to use in any capacity. This especially becomes evident in the open world, where you’ll almost never be able to so much as assassinate a guard while blending into a crowd. Even the achievement to kill 10 guards, which is a fairly small number, is considered ultra-rare in terms of rarity.
This again adds to the feeling that the game didn’t have these systems added at a foundational level. Instead, at some point during development, the Stealth angle felt like it was worth giving a shot. And so, Ubisoft ported aspects of the Ezio trilogy, like social stealth, directly into Mirage. All that without taking into account if it worked with Mirage, or even if they could make some improvements for a decade-old system.
A Difference In Approaches
The original AC games have a lasting appeal because every part of the game felt like it had a purpose. The story was narratively complex and sophisticated, and the game had tons of mechanics, which worked together to add depth and movement to the game. Mirage, on the other hand, utilizes the classic formula, in an engine that simply doesn’t support it.
Sure, parts of it might give off the impression that it’s a genuine love letter to the classic games. But the key difference between these two approaches comes down to focus. As I mentioned before, the original AC games have a multitude of elements working together to create in unison to craft an experience that sold the fantasy of the stealthy Assassin.
Mirage’s Basim simply getting away with killing guards despite being visible to other guards while doing so, simply doesn’t give off the same vibe. At the end of the day, it’s clear that other than being a marketing ploy to get more people hyped and interested, Mirage does little in the way of truly honoring the AC games that have come in the past.
For some fans with a passing interest in the franchise, it might still work like a solid entry. It’s not a bad game to play, by any means. But considering it was marketing to fans as an epic return to the type of gameplay that has long been forsaken by the franchise, it really fails to deliver on a fundamental level. And with future games in the franchise continuing to go in the direction of Valhalla, it’s clear fans might never be able to get an Assassin’s Creed experience that feels true to the original trilogy.
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