Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia Review
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Feb 09, 16
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The Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia is the third and final entry in the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles series, which is a 2.5 stealth platformer take on Ubisoft’s popular Assassin’s Creed franchise. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China was a beautiful first chapter, with unique and challenging gameplay that constantly taught new tricks of the stealth trade along the way. The second chapter, ACC: India, was just as beautiful, but took a sharp turn toward mastering speedy parkour as well as speed-stealth. Since ACC: Russia was released only one month after ACC: India, whereas India was a year post-China, I had doubts that ACC: Russia would be much different from ACC: India.
Now the trilogy has leapt forward to 1918 in Russia, during the lovely time of the Bolshevik Revolution, when they murdered the entire Czar’s family. Legend has always had it that Princess Anastasia escaped the slaughter, and naturally, this is one story Climax Studios and Ubisoft couldn’t resist twisting into AC lore. Assassin Nikolai Orelov wants to leave the Brotherhood and take his family away from the civil unrest, but before he can do so, he agrees to take on one last job that will help fund his emigration to the US. This one last job just so happens to take advantage of the revolution, sending Orelov into the palace to steal back Ezio’s box from the Templars that Shao Jun (of ACC: China) was never able to recover. Shockingly, Anastasia just so happens to have this box.
At the outset, ACC: Russia appears to have vastly improved from the mistakes made in ACC: India. The missions go back to letting players play how they want to play, whether it’s ghosting, assassinating, or engaging enemies in open combat. At least, this is how it all starts off initially. About two-three Memories in, and it’s readily apparent that you’re supposed to play how the developers want you to, and not how you want to.
The ACC games have always put a strong emphasis upon ghosting, or being a shadow, as players are awarded performance points at various stages of the Memory Sequence. At the end of the Memory, the points are tallied up, and if the player racks up so many, upgrades will unlock. These upgrades include more ammunition, more smoke bombs, quieter lock picking, more health, etc. The upgrades available vary from Memory to Memory, so if you missed out on gaining a longer health bar, you’ll have to either replay the Memory, which starts over your save progress, or wait until several Memories down the line for another chance. Perhaps the devs thought that ACC: China was too forgiving with the required points to unlock an upgrade, because the point bar is extremely high in ACC: Russia. In other words, they really want you to be a perfect shadow or assassin and obtain that Gold ranking on each stage for top points. Earning just one Bronze ranking will ruin all chances of obtaining a single upgrade.
The push for perfection does not end there. While ACC: Russia thankfully doesn’t have the timed tailing missions prevalent in ACC: India, it does contain several speedrun stages and speed-stealth areas that are just as delightful as they sound. With most games, when a timer flashes on screen, players know they have to book it, but they are usually given a 5-10 second cushion to counteract mistakes. In this game, there is zero room for mistakes. At one particular stage, I had about a minute to catch a train. Every jump, every fast climb, and every drop had to be executed perfectly. Any slight mistake, and I would miss it, because even if you make the final jump point with two seconds to spare, the train is gone. Those two seconds are an absolute lie.
Beautiful trash polka-like art style, new gadgets that introduce more creative methods to complete an area, sniping zones, and switching between two characters with two unique styles of gameplay set the stage for some fantastic potential in this trilogy;
Forced speedrunning, speed-stealth, and perfect skill execution will detract many from this unique tale of Anastasia's legendary disappearance.