Despite the tumultuous ups and downs, the Assassin’s Creed series still has a special place in my gaming collection. While I agree that AC’s mechanics require some serious tweaking, there are very few games that present players with such realistic and expansive historical settings. To me, Assassin’s Creed is more about experiencing the developers’ fictional spin on the various key moments in history and the remarkable representation of various cultures than the gameplay itself...although even as a die hard fan, I have to agree that AC’s shortcomings are gradually starting to interfere with my enjoyment as a virtual tourist.
Having said that, Chronicles is a rather interesting concept. Here, the emphasis is purely on gameplay, and exploration is entirely taken out of the picture. For a spin-off, the 2D approach works well for those seeking bite-sized AC-style action, but fans used to vast, explorable landscapes and scalable buildings are likely to walk away disappointed. Chronicles’ problem isn’t that it’s trying to be another Mark of the Ninja, its detriment is that it misses what makes Klei Entertainment’s little gem so special: being a Ninja.
"For a spin-off, the 2D approach works well for those seeking bite-sized AC-style action, but fans used to vast, explorable landscapes and scalable buildings are likely to walk away disappointed."
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India is too linear and offers little flexibility. You can climb up and down, you can go in and out of the foreground and background, but ultimately, there’s only one path to your objectives and usually only one way to get past your foes. Remember how frustrating it is to tail characters in every AC game? Well, that ideology thoroughly extends to every element in Chronicles. The idea of tackling enemies from every direction is only an illusion. The freedom only lies in the tools used to either distract or attack enemies, but the method in progressing is typically forced down your throat. One small misstep and you’re enveloped by a horde of aggressive guards with none of the fighting ability typically displayed by a skillful assassin.
In a way, the Chronicles entries seem to only focus on the worst, most criticized elements of past Assassin’s Creed games. The issues extend to the platforming. For the most part, the parkour is smooth and responsive...as long as there are no enemies around. If you kill an enemy by a ledge, it’s easy to mistakenly pick up the corpse when you’re just trying to climb down the ledge. Then there are the countless timed events. You know, the ones where you push a lever that activates a climbable obstacle that’s only active for a limited time. These areas are infuriating and make up the majority of the game.
"In a way, the Chronicles entries seem to only focus on the worst, most criticized elements of past Assassin’s Creed games."
But, none of these issues are as bad as the actual stealth, which is almost entirely broken. For one, you never know when attacking a foe from behind will make him scream or go down quietly. And as you can imagine, they make noise at the most inopportune moments. You can find yourself zig-zagging through a level without making a single mistake, just to have that one last guard project an alarming sound bubble while you “stealthily” approach him from behind, and before you know it, you’re surrounded by half a dozen guards and are forced to play the entire section over again.
The shortcoming further extend to the game’s visuals. Stylistically, there is a pretty game hidden here somewhere, but it’s the overall technical treatment that leaves a lot to be desired. The entire screen is covered by a horrid grain filter that looks particularly bad when things are set in motion. Anti-aliasing is almost non-existent, and even after forcing AA via Nvidia’s Control Panel, things only improve slightly. Even though the color palette is vibrant and emphasises the beauty of the Indian setting, everything is modeled sloppily compared to past AC games. Just because this is a 2D spin-off series doesn’t mean the characters and environments should be so poorly modeled.
"Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India is the least ambitious, most forgettable, and most disappointing Assassin’s Creed entry to date."
All this madness, and I didn't even mention the plot. The AC storylines haven’t been especially interesting since Ezio’s saga, but there was still enough to keep fans happy from beginning to end. Here, the plot buzzes around in the background like an annoying fly, never making a single effort to engage players, or at least provide something remotely adequate between chapter breaks. Instead, you play a forgettable assassin named Arbaaz Mir who is tasked with recovering a stolen item from the Assassin Order.
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India is the least ambitious, most forgettable, and most disappointing Assassin’s Creed entry to date. It’s a real shame that Ubisoft hasn’t taken advantage of this opportunity to experiment with some new gameplay ideas that could eventually shape future AC entries. What you have here is a collection of every imaginable AC annoyance packaged into a shallow campaign, disappointing graphics and a beautiful setting gone to waste. There’s still some fun to be had if you’re a devoted AC player, but even then, it’s only worth picking up once it hits the bargain bin.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC