What's most puzzling about Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia is who its target audience is. Anyone who didn't like the previous two games has no reason to play this, yet because of the carbon-copied formula, anyone who did like the previous two games has no reason to play it either, because it's quite literally same thing.
What's annoying is that this could've been so much more, thanks to the setting: 1918 Russia, the middle of the Communist Revolution which would shape the world's landscape for the rest of the century. Developer Climax Studios has admittedly gotten the visual style bang-on target, with harsh greys and crimson reds punctuating the environment, while tall smokestacks billow out ash in the background. But the buck stops there in terms of unique selling points.
The story, instead of being an interesting one about the clashing ideologies of the Assassins and Templars – since, y'know, the game is set in the middle of possibly the biggest ideological war in history – is another dumb wild goose chase between the two factions, this time for the last surviving member of the royal family, Princess MacGuffin – sorry, Princess Anastasia.
Just like previous games, the dialogue is dull and uninspired, with protagonist Assassin Nikolai Orelov playing the part of the bitter old man, and Anastasia the damsel in distress. Conversing soldiers repeat the same lines over and over again about increased security and such. If you're lucky, you may also hear some horrible Russian accents, as it appears that some of the voice actors haven't heard an Eastern European before.
Once again, you're presented with three ways to play through the game: pure stealth, pure killing, or a hybrid of stealth and stabbing. You can rule out pure stealth right away, because thanks to the unpredictability of the AI's vision cones, it's pretty much impossible to get past them without killing them. Even though you're given a whistle ability to distract them – as well as the use of telephones that can side-track enemies in other rooms – it's highly unlikely that they'll be distracted long enough to sneak by. Not only that, but a couple of times we experienced failures in stealth-only segments of the game despite not going near an enemy or a spotlight, so hopefully that bug gets fixed sooner rather than later.
In fact, the best way to play the game is by just killing everyone in sight non-stealthily, despite the fact that it's not "the Assassin way" – combat has gone from slightly difficult in India to an easy button-mash fest in Russia. While the last game focused on countering, in this title it's just as easy to push square [Ahem – Ed] and then triangle for a quick kill, which is much faster than distracting and sneaking past bourgeoisie baddies, and much less frustrating.
The usual enemy types also return from India: axe-wielding grunts are the cannon fodder, while riflemen look on from afar, and sentries step into the background to survey the surrounding area. Despite their strengths and weaknesses, none are immune to a sword, and, apart from the riflemen, it's easy to dodge their attacks, too.
It's not like Climax hasn't tried to add new mechanics to the game – Nikolai, while still having a whistle and smoke bombs to bypass enemies, now has a rifle and, strangely, a grappling hook. The former can be used to shoot out spotlights as well as enemies, while the latter can be employed to pull off vent covers and short out electrical circuits using an electric pulse. These don't really add much to the game, though, apart from the ability to turn off lights, shortening the enemy's vision cones, so it's nothing to get excited about.
You can also trade in Helix Points to activate a mode in which you can't be caught by enemies for a limited amount of time, so if you're stuck in a situation, you can simply run right through it. It does feel a little cheaty, but it's appreciated for the more frustrating parts of the game.
The addition of sniper spots is a weird one, too – when used, your view turns to a first-person point of view. You're then given the ability to shoot enemies/spotlights in the background with your infinitely-supplied sniper, which makes the game much easier as you can just shoot every enemy on screen and waltz through the wasteland that you just created.
Overall, the campaign lasts a decent seven to eight hours, with a Challenge mode in which you go through certain scenarios adding a couple more hours. The big question is whether you want to play through them at all.
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia Marx the end of the ill-fated Chronicles series, but instead of making a final stand, Climax's latest treads water. While the visual style is pleasant and the atmosphere is strong, attempts to inject the game with innovation fall flatter than the Berlin Wall in 1990, and the title hasn't really got much to offer to fans old or new in terms of stealth or combat. There are far better Assassin's Creed games and far better platformers, so this spin-off has nowhere else to go but the gulag.
@verynaughtyboy Yeah that would have been sweet.
Mark of the Ninja was superb and I'd buy it instantly on my Vita...
What's the point in this trash... And Who makes these desicions.? Previous releases get below average reviews.... I know... Well just keep releasing them.... without addressing the criticism... to achieve even worse reviews! Genius!!!
In answer to the reviewer's question then this game is probably for me. I am currently playing through and enjoying playing the China episode even though I am killing everyone like a psychopath.
There is enough puzzle-solving and tactics to make it interesting and it compares favourably to the obtuse and by definition boring gameplay of Grim Fandango.
Even without playing it I would wager it is worth more than a 5. Probably a 7.5.
Eurogamer gave it a 7. I don't know why, but pushsquare always gives Assassin's Creed games lower score than other sites. A lot of them gave Syndicate a good score but this site just gave it a 6, one point above Unity when it was broken. I like this site for the news, but I really believe the scores are subjective. Diablo 3, a Game that is pure grinding and mediocre graphics, got a 9 here. I hated it and loved Syndicate. Just a matter of personal tastes, I believe, but I'm not taking into account these scores anymore.
Are you guys going to review it for vita, these games seem to fit the vita more than anything.
@verynaughtyboy Afraid not, which is quite annoying. Still, if you're looking for a good platformer (though it's not much like Mark of the Ninja) then N++ is excellent
@fluggy I have no idea what the mentality behind the decision was, but I think it was something to do with the success of Grow Home and trying out smaller games - either that or trying to bring the series to Vita. The only reason they continued it, I imagine, is because they promised it, which is a shame for the developers. I'm not sure if reviews are all-round bad, though: mostly average, as far as I can see.
@john_c It's great that you're enjoying China, but what I was saying is that Russia's gameplay is almost the same as the previous games. Still, if you enjoy it, then why not give Russia a try! We all have our own opinions, after all
@JoeBlogs Believe me, I had plenty of Soviet puns ready for this review
@jmbenetti To clarify, no review is ever objective. An objective review would simply be listing off facts about the game, so every review is subjective. The fact that the site doesn't give AC games good scores is pretty much a coincidence - different people review the AC games (for instance, Sammy reviewed Syndicate) so we're bound to have different opinions. Still, everyone's opinions are different, and they're all valid.
@viciousarcanum The VITA versions actually come out in April, so it's a matter of whether we get a review code for it. By the looks of it, like you said, this mini series seems more suited to portable consoles
@JoeBlogs Make sure to Commie on your phone if you have any more puns, though!
PS4 is simply not a suitable format for Chronicles.
I will probably buy the Retail collection for Vita.
@skaarj217 It does seem that way. I'm not sure why they put this on PS4 first, to be honest
@jmbenetti Eurogamer don't give scores, so they didn't give it a 7.
I am still planning on picking all three of these up in the collection for the Vita! Think these would play very well on a handheld.
@jmbenetti As @Anchorsam_9 said, reviews are subjective by their very nature. Take a look at Firewatch today: I thought it was very disappointing, but some people are going crazy over it. By the same measure, pretty much everyone at Push Square agrees Journey is one of the best games ever made — but many commenters don't agree with us.
The discussion is part of the fun — if you enjoy the game, then that's rad. (There are a lot of Assassin's Creed fans here, too, it's not like we have a vendetta against the series.)
@SuperKMx Not Eurogamer.net, but the international sites. This one is from Eurogamer Italy: http://www.eurogamer.it/articles/2016-02-08-assassins-creed-chronicles-russia-recensione
It was just an example, anyway.
@get2sammyb @Anchorsam_9 I guess we all have different tastes.
Ubisoft are putin all sorts of rubbish assassins creed games out these days 😉
Someone needs to remind them that they aren't activision and this isn't guitar hero or Tony hawks
Is it me or are Ubisoft scared to release a new IP? It seems that they are shoehorning AC into games that really could be better without trying to be AC as well. AC4 is a poor Assassins Creed game but could be a good Pirate game. These could be good 2.5D platformers if they didn't try and fit AC into them...
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