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'Assassin's Creed: Odyssey' is a love letter to ancient Greece

You can live life as a Spartan mercenary on October 5th.
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I'll never forget the time I watched the trailer for 300, the iconic fantasy war film from 2006 about King Leonidas of Sparta and his clash against the Persians with a heavily outnumbered army. As soon as I saw the scene where Leonidas, played by Gerard Butler, screamed "This is Sparta" at the top of his lungs and then kicked a dude down a deep concrete well, I knew the movie was going to be an instant classic. Less than a year after touring Egypt with Origins, Ubisoft is taking us to King Leonidas' world in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey. The new game takes place in 431BC, right at the start of the Peloponnesian war between the competing cities of Sparta and Athens.

As these two empires fight to establish broader power, your play as a young Spartan mercenary who goes on quest to help his people defeat the Athenians. At the start of your journey in Odyssey, which features the largest open world Ubisoft has ever created for an Assassin's Creed game, you can choose between a male (Alexios) or female (Kassandra) character. They both have similar paths in the overall narrative, but Ubisoft says there will be some unique experiences along the way for each. I picked Alexios simply because I liked his outfit better, and perhaps because I imagined that if I had been a Spartan myself thousands of years ago, I would've looked more like him.

The short section I played was a side quest set around 15-20 hours into the game, on the island of Delos. My character was leveled up to ensure I had the necessary armor, weapons and combat abilities to keep up with powerful enemies like Podarkes, the leader of Delos, who I had been tasked to murder in order to defeat his Athenian army. As with other titles in the Assassin's Creed franchise, Odyssey looks gorgeous, with life-like animations and environments, though there were boundaries to where I could go and what I could do during my demo. Still, from my brief time in Delos, I get the feeling that the rest of Odyssey's will be just as lively -- especially when you get into naval combat, which Ubisoft is putting a big emphasis on.

I only took a small boat in my quest, but whether you choose to play as Alexios or Kassandra, you'll be able to explore and fight on the beautiful, crystal clear waters of ancient Greece. Your ship is your home in Odyssey, as Ubisoft puts it, and you'll be able to customize it and recruit a crew to take on the Athenians and other mercenaries as part of your journey. I spent most of my time riding around in horses, unfortunately, so I'm looking forward to some ship battles in the future. But, regardless of how you get around in Odyssey, you'll have to be extra careful of the choices you make, as they'll influence the story of Alexios or Kassandra.

Ubisoft

A big changes with the latest Assassin's Creed is what Ubisoft calls a revolution of narrative for the franchise, with choice at the center of the RPG experience. The developer said it needed to move from a traditional method of storytelling in its previous games to one where you, the player, could influence the entire story of Odyssey. You'll need to be careful how you answer questions from people you meet, because it could be the difference between romance and hate. It all sounds a bit like Mass Effect: There're going to be over 30 hours of what Ubisoft calls interactive storytelling, and the company says you can even make deep and meaningful connections with Greek philosophers -- just don't expect a sex scene with Socrates.

I barely scratched the surface of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, but my time in Delos was more than enough to know that I can't wait to play more of it when it launches later on October 5th. For now, I'll always have the memory of busting out the Spartan kick for the first time in the game. Nothing was more satisfying than seeing that Athenian warrior fly off a cliff at the mercy of the great Alexios.

Gallery: "Assassin's Creed: Odyssey" | 13 Photos

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