Review: Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia (Xbox One)
When Ubisoft announced that they would be taking a different route with Assassin’s Creed Chronicles, and that it would be a 2.5D sidescrolling platformer I was nothing short of ecstatic. I pictured the classic Prince of Persia gameplay only modified and improved for a new generation of gamers. I pictured incredible platforming, a semi-interesting story, at least, and some cool characters along the way, oh and of course dynamic combat throughout.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia is the third game in the trilogy spin-off and following a bit of disappointment from China, and even more so from India, I felt Russia had a lot to do to meet expectations. Despite releasing so shortly after India I hoped that there would be an upturn in the quality and the series would end off with a bang.
Sadly, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia did nothing of the sort and ended off with more of a whimper than anything else. Once again you play the part of an assassin, this time it’s Nikolai Orelov in 1918 Russia and while the story is slightly better than the previous two games, it’s still pretty ordinary. Nikolai has had enough of the Assassin’s brotherhood and wants to leave Russia along with his family. Before he can the brotherhood gives him one final mission, to retrieve an artefact that has been out of their hands for years.
Nikolai takes on the challenge and in doing so saves a princess, Anastasia who becomes your second playable character in the game. Their ‘job’ is now to escape the Templars, and then later on the brotherhood as they try to test the princess for her Assassin powers (yeah, it’s a bit silly). Anyway, the skill set is nearly the same as the previous games. Nikolai has his smoke bombs, whistling ability, a wrench and a rifle. These can be used to distract enemies and aid you through the levels. Anastasia on the other hand only has a little knife, but she does get Helix powers later on.
Gameplay to grit your teeth to
While the story and characters were poor in the previous games, the gameplay still had some great moments where you need to use your platforming abilities and combat skills. Russia sadly has a lot less of this, and most of it has been done already in the previous games. In fact, I didn’t pick up a single unique moment in the game that made me feel it was anything different at all. The enemies behave exactly the same and the puzzles are familiar and ordinary.
It’s a mix between getting from point-to-point in a limited time by dodging enemies and using your climbing skills to manoeuvre your way through some pretty stupid enemies and their patterned behaviour. Stay out of their site, kill when needed and sneak by is the order of the day. Some of the sections are so finicky that you might die 10 times before getting through, at which time you are ready to give up. It’s not that it is difficult, just that it’s rather poorly designed.
The Helix powers which allow you to go invisible, or make bodies disappear when killing so that aren’t discovered are great, but used minimally in this game until you finish it and start a ‘new game plus’. But to be honest I can’t imagine why you would want to play through it again.
Is that it?
Not exactly. I must compliment the game, like its predecessors, for a wonderful backdrop that is Russia. It is so distinctive when compared to China and India, as it should be. The palette, filled with reds and blacks make for a delightful landscape that is far more interesting and worthwhile than actually playing the game. I must admit that at times I got caught taking in the scenery, which resulted in a few deaths and a lot more frustration than was necessary.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia once again comes equipped with challenge rooms which have you fulfilling certain tasks in a limited amount of time. Once you finish the main story these can be quite time consuming if you like, but if, like me, you got enough from the main game you probably won’t even give it a try.
Now, that’s it?
That really is about it. I truly expected a game that would build on the previous two games. Something that would make me think “I need more of this” but it simply doesn’t. The story ends abruptly (I had to check if I missed something) the voice acting is awful and the gameplay is mediocre at best, depending on frustration levels.
It’s not a terrible game by any means, it’s just disappointing that it could have done so much more. Releasing so shortly after India didn’t help the cause either because it just feels like a continuation but with less impressive platforming sections. One thing the game, and series, has going for it is that the price point is a tempting one. It’s certainly not overpriced for what you get, but you will have to weigh up that value against your frustration levels. If Ubisoft do bring out more games in this genre let’s hope they learn from the mistakes here, because underneath the mediocrity is a brilliant game waiting to come out. Maybe it’s time the Prince returned? Maybe.