Ubisoft released its downloadable spin-off Assassin’s Creed game for those looking to extend their assassin skills by offering a 2.5D side scrolling action platforming affair complete with all the elements from the main games. However, does the shift in planes work well or is this an unrelated offering with the Assassin’s Creed tag slapped on? Take a look at our Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China Review for the full picture.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China Review:
It’s obvious Ubisoft are toying with ideas as far as locations for its Assassin’s Creed games with the arrival of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China coming in as a downloadable portion of a three part series on consoles and PC. The big difference here between it and the main games is a switch to a 2.5D playing space which means less personal sneaking or killing and a more disjointed offering considering players are controlling a small character amidst the bucketfuls of scale generated as a result. This time round players assume the role of female assassin Shao Jun who embodies the last remaining assassin of the Chinese brotherhood. What this essentially translates to is a quest for revenge by taking out various armed henchmen and their powerful leaders one by one.
The game follows tradition of the series by incorporating familiar elements such as hiding in crowds, leaps of faith into hay laden carts and of course quick stealth assassinations to name but a few features. Aside from sneaking about and making a choice as to whether it’s wise to evade rather than engage there’s a fair bit of navigational action throughout. This means scaling buildings, jumping on poles and the sorts of actions that befit any accomplished assassin. The 2.5D angles makes for some interesting level design but in some instances can feel a bit puzzle like as the path isn’t always crystal clear.
The stealth is handled quite well where the player is required to exercise a bit of patience rather than running in with weapons drawn. The landscape offers plenty of ways to be sneaky if desired and with a number of handy tools at your disposal means progression is only as hard as how long it takes to work out the correct sequence to move forwards. That said, players who mess up can engage in some clunky block and counter sword play but it’s obvious this isn’t the main focus as combat becomes strained when facing more than two opponents at a time. The enemy AI is also not up to scratch and often there are oddities where you can sneak past chatting enemies in full view as an actual feature rather than a glitch which doesn’t make much sense. There’s a touch of Metal Gear thrown in as well as a cool down timer activates when you get spotted and it’s here where the game’s AI shows its true intelligence by simply resuming as normal once the clock hits zero. This can easily be abused making the game feel less challenging as a result.
At the end of each checkpoint you’re graded on how well you performed which tallies up the number of times spotted, kills performed and such like. There’s an element from Splinter Cell Blacklist as various styles are accounted for here which is good for accommodating those who would rather “brawl” than “stealth” and vice versa.
Thrown into the mix at various junctures are some escape sequences where players have to move at speed ignoring any caution and head for the goal as quickly as possible lest they perish in the process. Whilst these are great for adding some variety to proceedings they also serve as platters of frustration. Especially when precision moves are required during the sequence where any deviation or a wrong button press refuses to register because the game doesn’t want you to jump but slide instead.
There’s no denying the game’s 2.5D level design is pretty solid against the Chinese themed backdrop which has been hand painted and offers some sumptuous looking visuals especially when taking in one of the many vistas. However as mentioned the far distance from the character means there’s a disconnect where events lack any sort of personality.
Audio comes in with some pleasant music fitting of the Chinese theme although the game’s voice acting during the painted stills between each level leaves little to be desired. In comparison to the melodic music the actors simply sound like they are going through the motions rather than performing in-depth roles.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles offers some reasonable bang for your buck by providing a number of levels complete with secondary objectives and two extra play modes to mess around with upon completion. The question is whether you’ll be compelled to as the game whilst ticking all the right boxes just feels rather dull overall. It’s hard to put one’s finger on why this is other than the previously mentioned disconnection with the on-screen action. So in this regard anyone expecting well rounded characters like Ezio or Arno will be disappointed – although the former does make an appearance in the game offering tutorials for our leading lady.
For the price and its looks there’s an interesting experience to be had here for those who can’t get enough Assassin’s Creed. However anyone else might feel the game is too far detached from what’s expected and although offers some clever design is simply too dull to be wholly enjoyable.