Thursday, 18 February 2016

Assassin's Creed Chronicles Trilogy

Do you know what was great about the original Assassin's Creed game that launched in 2007? In some missions and even it's design it felt like you were an assassin in the shadows, stalking your prey and waiting for your right moment to strike. In a lot of ways, the Assassin's Creed Chronicles Trilogy very much feels like that great condensed stealth gameplay compressed into a 2.5D plane. 

Developed by Climax Studios and out now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Assassin's Creed Chronicles Trilogy is a collection of three games (hence trilogy) that go from China, to India, and then finally to Russia. Before going a little deeper into those three games I will give one word summaries for each one – China: Basic, India: Refined, and Russia: Varied. While none of them reshape the genre, there is a lot to enjoy within its compact design.

ACC: China is set in 1526 and you take control of Shao Jun. The exciting thing about this female protagonist is that she was trained by none other than Ezio Auditore de Firenze. After she was trained by the iconic Assassin's Creed character, she returns to China to enact revenge on the Templar group known as Eight Tigers. The game, just like the other two is played out on a 2.5D plane as you move from one side of the screen to the other sneaking past enemies and using your equipment. Unfortunately, China is by far the weakest in the trilogy despite having possibly the most interesting setting. The gameplay itself takes the best part of the original Assassin's Creed titles and distils them into a side-scrolling affair. The result is pretty good, even if the flow of the gameplay and combat doesn't hold up. Everything feels quite basic and surprisingly dull. The moment to moment gameplay is peaks and valleys with nothing in between and can feel quite jarring.

The next one up is ACC: India which is colourful and refines a lot of the problems with  the first game. The biggest improvement with India is the pacing and flow of the gameplay. ACC: China went from slow stealth moments to fast action-packed sequences that required a precision that was almost frustrating. While moments do switch up here once again, the flow of how it all comes together is much more enjoyable. There are more gadgets at your disposal for more fun encounters.

If ACC: China is OK and India is good, then ACC: Russia is great. It is the best and most pure entry in the trilogy. It feels like everything had been learned about in the other two titles and the last one was their "real" release. Everything feels varied, especially in your stealthy approaches. In the other two you really only had bushes, pillars, and dark areas to hide from guards. In ACC: Russia, you have so many options to approach ant given situation. You can call a telephone in a different room to distract a guard or shoot out a breaker box in order to restrict their vision. The fact that this takes place during the 20th century means there are new mechanics to take advantage of. The more modern world means there are different environments to enjoy as well as better designed buildings. ACC: Russia feels varied in almost every way.

However, there are some problems that persist throughout the entire trilogy, and that are the actual combat mechanics. It's forcibly bad in order to persuade you to try a stealthy approach, but it's just not fun whatsoever. The other problem ties into the combat and that's the upgrades. You unlock upgrades by surpassing point thresholds. The biggest point rewards though are tied to a stealthy approach by either not being seen or taking out guards without anyone noticing. This restricts the "freedom" it employs and leads you to multiple retries of completing sections stealthily in order to actually improve your character.

A trilogy where the last one is actually the best. 3/5.


Jason Redmond

Assassin's Creed Chronicles Trilogy  at CeX

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