Assassin’s Creed Chronic les: Russia
A five-tsar thriller, or a load of Bolsheviks?
It’s Nikolai Orelov’s last day on the job. Pretty routine, really: he just has to steal a vital artefact from under the noses of the Bolsheviks, who are holding Tsar Nicholas II and his family captive. Alas, he’s picked the day they’re all to be executed; worse still, his conscience is pricked by the Tsar’s lone surviving daughter. With macguffin in hand and Anastasia in tow, he must escape with both of them before he can leave the Order for good.
Orelov’s timing is lousy, but it’s not always his fault. Or ours either: as in its Indian precursor, the challenge is artificially heightened by unforgiving design. If you finished the two previous Chronicles games and figured the way to improve them would be to make direct combat even more unusable and toss in a handful of stodgy sniping setpieces, then you’ll be delighted with this. The rest of us will wonder how a trilogy that had such promise got more disagreeable with each instalment.
It’s not that this doesn’t try anything different, merely that most of its new ideas are failures. Not all, mind: despite a preposterous plot (even by Creed standards) and some honkingly bad dialogue, controlling two characters adds a certain dynamism. As Orelov, you’ll snipe patrolling guards before they can spot your young charge. As Anastasia, you’ll sneak through corridors, opening windows to give your ally a clear line of sight to his targets. It’s single-player co-op, in essence, and there are satisfying moments when the two are able to work together.
Sadly, these are too few and far between to offset the frustrating bits. Most of the time you can’t afford to be spotted: cause any kind of alert, and the grey curtain of death instantly falls. It doesn’t help that you can sometimes be seen when you’re outside a guard’s cone of vision. Worse, any time you dare try anything clever, there’s usually a “gotcha!” moment, as the designers tut: do it our way, or you’ll be banished to the last checkpoint. Yes, in Soviet Russia, game plays you – and it turns out that’s not much fun at all. OXM