Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China
Ubisoft surprised the gaming world not too long ago with their announcement of three small downloadable Assassin’s Creed games they had in development. Announced as three episodes of an inter-connecting story, the first of the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles games would be ‘Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China’. I’m a big fan of the Assassin’s Creed games, stealth games and 2D platformers, so Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China sounded right up my rooftop. The finished game is competent, though it doesn’t feel is retains enough classic Assassin’s Creed elements to seperate itself from other 2D stealth-action titles like Klei’s Mark of the Ninja.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China (which I will be shortening to ACCC) stars the assassin Shao Jun, and takes place during the last days of the Ming dynasty in 1526. Shao Jun returns to her homeland for vengeance after being trained by the legendary assassin Ezio Auditore (from the Assassin’s Creed II games).
Shao Jun must eliminate the Eight Tigers, a group of Templars. Her journey will take her through Macau, Nan’an, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, until she reaches her final target, Zhang Yong.
Gameplay-wise, ACCC will be familiar to people who have played similar 2D or 2.5D titles such as Mark of the Ninja. The player will traverse levels mainly across a lateral plane, though being an AC game there is plenty of climbing, sneaking and use of cover. There are also switches to pull or push, and occasional moments where there may be a slight movement puzzle. I don’t consider these to be full-blown puzzles, as there is usually an immediately obvious solution to any given puzzle from the moment Shao Jun comes across it.
In addition to the nimbly-bimbly way that Shao Jun can get from A to B, she is of course, adept at combat. Armed with a number of different weapons, she can silently kill her enemies using her sword and rope-dart, or she engage in combat with multiple people similarly to other Assassin’s Creed games (albeit it on a lateral plane). For these moments, combat revolves around countering, dodging and then attacking when you are at an advantage.
For the most part, ACCC plays quite well, though I feel it owes that to the fact it plays like a lot of other games. There isn’t really a great deal of truly AC gameplay on offer, and everything from combat and exploration feels too linear and too borrowed from other games. Don’t get me wrong, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China is an enjoyable title, though I don’t feel the addictive pull I have felt with other 2.5D stealth games, or from other Assassin’s Creed games – something is just missing in the mix.
You might be thinking to yourselves: “Why does this guy keep comparing a 2.5D Assassin’s Creed game to the full retail games in the series?”, and while I normally avoid comparing spinoffs and games that deviate from a franchise’s traditional gameplay, ACCC just doesn’t quite deliver the same excitement fans expect from the series. It ironically can’t blend into the franchise, and it can’t quite cut its own path, either. It takes more than a hooded, acrobatic protagonist to “wow” me, despite Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China’s best efforts.
I know that there is still technically room for the bigger Assassin’s Creed games to visit China, but for the main games to be going to London and for the only AC game set in China to be this one feels like a colossal misstep.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China is a competent game, though ultimately nothing special. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table and there have been too many other decent 2.5D stealth titles to warrant recommending this one.