Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India
(PS4, Xbox One, PC, Ubisoft, cert: 16)
While the main Assassin’s Creed canon delivers sprawling open worlds, the Chronicles spin-off series condenses its digital cousin’s stealth and exploration gameplay into one of gaming’s earliest genres. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India is a largely linear platformer and one that, although technically played through three dimensions, feels like a 2D experience. The studio behind the series’ visit to India has done a good job, crafting an attractive, vibrant platformer that plays like a puzzle game and reworks many gameplay mechanics that define the mainstream Assassin’s Creed games. Thus, where Mario may demand precision and deft reactions from players, here the emphasis is on stealth, problem solving and evading enemies where possible.
Solid enough all round, Chronicles: India, however, lacks enough bright ideas to be striking. Part two of a three-episode collection, it offers moments of distinction and artistry, but mechanically is lacking in charisma. A decent release worthy of attention for Assassin’s Creed’s fans, but one that demonstrates potential over true brilliance; perhaps the final part of the trilogy will prove to be the best. WF
Story of Seasons
Having fun mucking in among the animals and fields of the countryside seems to be more popular than ever, certainly here in Story of Seasons, which continues the Harvest Moon farm simulator games in style, if not in name. But it’s not for the wellington-boot dilettante; working from smallholding to agricultural powerhouse takes considerable dedication. From planting crops, tilling soil and spreading fertiliser to tending animals, the to-do list is long and drains the farmer’s limited energy supplies.
These early restraints make progress hard won, but persevere and success is rewarding. Whether using trade stations to manage supply and demand economics, setting up a wildlife safari or challenging rival farmers to contests, there is always something new to do – even getting married. 3DS connectivity is also well used, with farmers visiting via StreetPass and a Wi-Fi multiplayer mode.
Story of Seasons, then, successfully recreates an intricate and intriguing farm in miniature, but while rated for younger audiences, the level of determination required and mature storylines growing in these fields make it far better suited for older children. AR
Wave Race 64
(Wii U virtual console, Nintendo, cert: 3)
The newer generation of gamers may not believe it, but Nintendo used to create many racing games that weren’t just Mario Kart. There was the motocross-style Excitebike, snowboarding sim 1080°, futuristic speed racer F-Zero and the water-bound Wave Race. The latter was one of the best; a graphical showcase for the N64, with realistic wave effects that successfully captured the experience of competitively bounding across all manner of H20, from stormy seas through peaceful lakes to windswept lagoons.
All of which, happily, is here rereleased on Wii U and unchanged from the 1996 original. The visuals have, unsurprisingly, aged, but the gameplay remains an absolute joy thanks to the impressive physics. Players must zip round buoys, pull off tricks and deal with the tide, which creates obstacles and shortcuts after every lap. Compared with modern racers, Wave Race 64 is lacking in courses (there are only nine) and modes (four – Championship, Stunt Mode, Time Trial and Two-Player). Yet even after 20 years, it remains one of the most authentic water racing games. Perhaps it’s time Nintendo gave the youngsters a new one. CD
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