Developer: Climax Studios
In efforts to expand the Assassin’s Creed universe, Ubisoft has outsourced the development of the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles series to a British development company by the name of Climax Studios, a little-known company that started out porting a few of Blizzard’s biggest titles to the Playstation and Sega Saturn in 1998. In 2002 Climax Studios had also been working on a previous rendition of Warhammer Online which was scrapped due to the expenses of development. They also have a few ATV, MotoGP, and Silent Hill games under their belt along with the action RPG Sudeki. Now they are hard at work on this series of spin off games.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is the second in the series, the first being Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China. Each title in the series has a new protagonist and location, the last of which will be Russia in the third and final addition. These games do not carry the same format as the main line;. Chronicles features a heavily stealth oriented approached on a 2.5D plane. Assassin’s Creed is known to be a AAA franchise, but with a low price of ten bucks, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles has gone down the budget route compared to its big brother.
The game takes place two years after the events of the graphic novel Assassin’s Creed: Brahman. Just as the graphic novel, this edition of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles also follows Arbaaz Mir and his adventures through India. During this time, the Sikh Empire is at war with the East India Company. A master templar arrives in the city of Amritsar in possession of the Koh-I-Noor, a diamond that is known to be a Piece of Eden, and once a prized possession of the Brotherhood of Assassins. Arbaaz aims to retrieve the diamond and find out why the templar has come India. In the process, he must protect the lives of his mentor and the princess who also happens to secretly be the love of his life.
Spiritual Content: Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India centers around what are known as “Pieces of Eden,” with one of them also being called “the Apple.” In the Assassin’s Creed franchise these are actually powerful devices created by the “first civilization” which is responsible for creating the human race and used the devices to control them. This is essentially a derivative of the story of Adam and Eve, and could possibly make some uncomfortable that it is spun in such a way.
Violence: The Assassin’s Creed games have not been known for intense blood and gore, however the amount of blood is unnecessarily generous just as it was in ACC: China. As far as action goes, the player will sometimes be required to assassinate a target and will participate in many sword fights and end those duels with the occasional stabbing of their enemies.
Sexual Content: In the first mission, the player will be sneaking into the palace to find the princess who is the main character’s beloved. Upon completion, the protagonist climbs through the window into her room. After some discussion and flirtation, the scene fades out into the next morning. The sex is suggestive, but nothing is shown.
Other Negative Themes: Pick-pocketing is a stable mechanic in the series and makes a return in this game. On occasion you will be required to steal a key or switch from a guard to move into the next area.
ACC: India is a stealth action game that, like ACC: China, takes its cues from Mark of the Ninja.There are many hiding spots in every level, and instead of simple shadows and haystacks as seen in ACC: China this entry offers more variety to subdue your foes. Arbaaz has the ability to use rafters to climb along the ceiling to get the drop on the enemy, and now pillars have been added for you to attack or sneak by as soon as a guard passes. Weather or not you kill is up to you; a higher score can be achieved if you make it through a segment without killing anyone.
Arbaaz has a few different tools compared to his Chinese counterpart Shao Jun. In the ACC: India, you are given four different tools to use at your disposal as long as you have enough ammo. The whistle mechanic and noise darts are back again, and where Shao Jun had throwing knives and fireworks, Arbaaz has chakram and smoke bombs. The chakram are just like the throwing knives, except the chakram can ricochet off of walls which gives the player the ability to cut the ropes of traps and hit guards at an angle which could not be achieved by throwing in a straight line. The smoke bombs are also an improvement over Shao Jun’s fireworks; the smoke bomb not only stuns your enemies, but blocks their sight so you have the opportunity to run right past them.
Speaking to fans of the mainline Assassin’s Creed series, do you remember the pursuit missions and constant trial and error we have experienced during some of those moments? Well, Climax Studios has included similar sequences here.included those here also. This simply does not work for a sidescroller. You do have eagle vision, but it only stretches so far and centers back to the character while you are on the move.
Also, for a game that presents options with many tools and ways to assassinate your enemies, there are many instances where you have arbitrary requirements and restrictions, some of them being rage inducing. In most cases, the minute you get spotted results in desynchronization, yet half of the fun in these games is supposed to come from making a great escape when you get caught.
Something all of the Assassins Creed games have is a look and style that reflects upon the culture and region in which they take place. With India, that is also the case, beginning with the cutscenes. In between missions, the story is depicted in a storyboard fashion, containing stills and voiceovers, but the influence from the Indian culture greatly stands out here. The stills are inspired by the culture’s art and flow together beautifully rather than simply transitioning with cuts and fades. The environments are no different either, and this is where the previous game had fallen short with a dark and muddy look. When traversing the cities of India, you will not only find vibrant colors, but find yourself staring off to the vistas in the background.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is in many ways a huge improvement over its predecessor. Sadly, some of its more ambitious improvements have also held it back in areas where China had succeeded. There were times when I simply wanted to stop playing this game, and I truly dislike feeling that way. There was even a moment when I had to look up a walkthrough which I should not have to do in a game like this.
So far, the Chronicles series has been overall pretty good, but India is difficult in a way that it shouldn’t be The fact that Assassin’s Creed: Russia is already on the way has me hesitant to play it because I fear that the same frustration awaits me there as well. However, it is only right to wrap up the series. So turn on your Eagle Vision around February 9th and be on the lookout for a review for Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia.
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The Bottom Line
Assassins Creed Chronicles: India hits its mark in areas where ACC: China failed to, but misses in areas where China did well. It is difficult for all the wrong reasons, but the overall presentation makes it unique and something in which fans of the franchise may want to check out.