Indeed, there are rumours that from now on, there'll be but one Assassin's Creed game every two years; just enough time to almost forget how similar each of those games are.
Given that this year will see the release of an actual Assassin's Creed movie, starring Michael "Fassbender", it's a bold - but nevertheless painfully necessary - strategy. There's only so much Doing Exactly The Same Thing that a market can handle.
Frankly, I've admired the last couple of AC games, but I don't know how much I've enjoyed them. They always felt like a bit of a slog, and Black Flag is the only Creed game I've ever really loved. But hang on a moment... If Assassin's Creed is going biennial, how come there's this anthology of three semi-new Assassin's Creed games? I'll tell you how: because Assassin's Creed fans will "biennial-d" rubbish!!!!!!
Ha ha ha. Do you see?
Assassin's Creed Chronicles is an anthology of the three Chronicles mini-games that have been released over the past year, set respectively in ancient China, India and revolutionary Russia.
They pay homage to the series to which Assassin's Creed owes its biggest debt: Ponce of Porsha (Prince of Persia).
They're 2D stealth platformers (barring some moments where your character walks further into the screen) - all avoid the guards, hide in the shadows, swing and clamber, and hide the bodies. Basically, much what the main Assassin's Creed games do, but stripped down to the absolute linear basics.
Fortunately, the Chronicles don't require the levels of precision that Prince of Persia demanded of its players, and are generally more playable. However, anyone hoping to assassinate their way through the games will be discouraged to hear that the skills and rewards are only handed out to those who favour a stealthy approach. Which is a shame, as many sections - much like in real life - are virtually impossible to get through without killing someone.
Combat is handled slightly differently in each of the three games. India is more a ballet of blocks and counters, whereas the fighting in Russia feels like out-and-out brawling (that is, when you're not shooting guards with your sniper rifle).
Naturally, most of the series' iconic moves - hiding in crowds, Eagle Jump and Eagle Vision - get a 2D makeunder, and your characters will also become equipped with gadgets used for distracting guards. Also: whistling. As well we know, whistling distracts guards.
"Hunh? What's that noise?"
"Maybe it's a kettle."
"I'll go check. I like kettles."
The strongest facet of Chronicles is its art design; each era features graphics that evoke the period, from China's watercolour washes, to India's henna-inspired swirls, to Russia's stark, Communist propaganda poster-style iconography.
Unfortunately, beyond that it's hard to recommend Chronicles, unless you're a particularly tragic sort of Assassin's Creed completist.
Yes, there's plenty of bang for your buck - combined, the three games will take you as long as most full-priced titles to complete - but they're difficult to love. Frankly, they're just a bit boring. I mean, y'know... they're fine, but they're not significantly doing anything that, say, Sega's Bonanza Bros didn't do 25 years ago - and with a ton more character.
SUMMARY: Three games, plenty of gameplay, pretty visuals, but somehow the overall feeling is one of unquestionable "meh".
SCORE: 5.712111 out of 10.7731173