Assassin’s Creed has been getting a lot of heat in the past year. From its annual release that’s boring people to bug issues last seen in its most recent AAA title, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the series has gained much notoriety over recent years. Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles changes up the original format of past Assassin’s Creeds and puts a twist on it. Chronicles offers players a new 2.5D point of view. This very linear game could offer some great new gameplay or adversely give gamers more reason to dislike the series even more.
The year is 1526 and we play as Shao Jun, one of the few survivors belonging to the Chinese Brotherhood. Two years ago, the Tigers (part of the Templars), wiped out most of the Chinese Brotherhood, leaving the Assassins to their bare minimum. Luckily Shao Jun is still alive and with the help of the Assassin’s new leader, Wang Yangming, they plan to take out the Tigers and free China from their reign. Shao Jun also knew Ezio Auditore, arguably the most beloved Assassin in the franchise. Ezio gives Shao an artifact that the Templars seek. Knowing this, Shao Jun allows herself to get captured to aid in starting her crusade and this is where our adventure begins.
Shao must go through all the templars to seek out vengeance and restore balance to China. The story follows a very typical path for an Assassin’s Creed game. Assassins must take on the Templars and find secrets that lead to more than just vengeance. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and with the still art pieces conveying the story, it does get a little boring half-way through. As if that’s not bad enough, the voice acting is arguably the worst thing about the game. When cutscenes take place, more often than not I’d find myself turning down the volume and just reading the subtitles instead. This is obviously something that is rare to do in a game with full voice acting implemented. Overall the story wraps up fine and leaves you satisfied, especially since it’s only $10.00 so it makes it easy to overlook the flaws.
Side scrollers don’t have much gameplay to offer usually, besides having players go through the linear path and take out any enemies until the level ends. As AC Chronicles follows this path, it actually works really well with the typical Assassin’s Creed gameplay formula. Players will have a set of tools at their disposal, which ranges from the usual throwing knives to noise darts. All these tools help you to efficiently go through each level as a skilled Assassin. Players will be able to take on guards head-on but when compared to other AC games, this approach to combat just isn’t that fun. The fighting is clunky and irritating especially with multiple guards in the way. The way the game is supposed to be played is stealthy, forcing you to stick to the shadows and climbing the tops of ceilings and structures. Again, going head-on is a mistake that you will figure out fairly quickly early on in the game. When playing under stealth mode, the game rewards you, allowing you to get more throwing knives or an extra health bar. All these things help you stay focused and encourage you to tackle this game via stealth.
The most fun sequences in the game by far are the escape ones. Shao Jun often needs to get out of an area and back to safety quickly. This is when the player must find the quickest way out as one wrong step could have you restarting from your last checkpoint. These are fun and intense scenes that will spark a little fire in your gameplay session. You would think a side scroller should be easy to escape due to its linear path, but this is where AC Chronicles really excels. The game offers multiple layers of depth allowing players to go the route they want, which allows for new things to be discovered along the way. Making quick decisions on the fly or during a regular mission provides for a realistic sense of exploration. This is where you could find chests with scrolls in them, and these scrolls read off Shao Jun’s story in a weirdly odd fashion. This approach to story-telling never really sticks with me and it doesn’t really give players any incentive to actually look for them.
The vibrant color schemes give a comic book feel to the game’s visuals, particularly are the levels that take place during the morning hours. The game’s visuals have this comic book/Chinese water painting aspect to it. It’s very appealing to the eyes. The 2.5D view also helps, allowing players to not just go straight, but turn corners and explore deeper into the game.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles mixes up the formula to the original AC games while playing it safe so that it doesn’t rock the boat too much. We still have the typical story and similar gameplay elements seen in previous installments of the series, and the only thing that is really different from anything we’ve seen before is the the obvious 2D Side Scroller POV. For that Shao Jun will be a forgettable Assassin, but fans of the franchise should still give this game a chance. It’s a bummer that Ubisoft chose this installment of the Assassin’s Creed series to be set in China, but at least we get to see a glimpse of what an AC China game feels like. Maybe one day we will revisit China with a full length AC game. Until then we have AC Chronicles: China to keep us entertained, and we would like to offer 2 of our readers a chance to play Chronicles for free. All you have to to do is go follow @FilmGamesEtc and @Jordanbiazzo14 and use the hashtag #FGEGiveAway, and two of you will be randomly selected to win the free code. So have you played AC Chronicles yet? Let us know in the comments below on how you feel about the game and for all your latest gaming reviews, keep it locked to FGE!