Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed offerings for mobile have, to date, focused on different gameplay styles in the Assassin's Creed universe: Memories, a collectible card game; and Pirates, focused on real-time/turn-based hybrid maritime battles.
These are now joined by a third title, soft-launched in Australia and New Zealand and coming to the rest of the globe in 2015: Identity, the first in the franchise on mobile to feature action-RPG gameplay.
"Assassin's Creed Identity is the first Assassin's Creed action RPG game for iPad and iPhone that lets you create, develop and customise your own Assassins and play as them in one of the greatest classic Assassin's Creed eras: the Italian Renaissance," reads the first sentence in the app's description.
After the brouhaha with a lack of female player characters in Assassin's Creed: Unity, we had hoped this meant more diversity, but it would appear that this is not the case. Unlike Unity, where your characters in multiplayer are all the same character dressed in different clothing, Identity offers you five different face options -- all of which are male, one of which has slightly darker skin if you peer closely.
The game itself is an attempt to offer the franchise's signature stealth gameplay in a mobile experience, and the results are dubious. Although the graphics look spectacular, they may be stymied somewhat by a control system that places a floating camera control in the bottom right of the screen, a floating D-Pad with strange sensitivity settings everywhere else, and buttons also in the bottom right that allow you to deploy abilities.
Once inside the game, you can choose from different character classes with different strengths to complete missions: a Berserker, with the ability to stun, bleed and inflict damage on multiple enemies; Shadowblade, with throwing knives, armour piercing and smoke bombs; Trickster, with confusion abilities, disguises and delayed bombs; and the currently locked Thief, with blinding, pickpocket and enemy-hindering abilities. You can create two assassins, which can then be customised with gear and skill points; and you can also call on other players to assist in missions.
The gameplay takes place in the format of missions, rather than the open-world adventuring from the console games. This is to fit in with the mobile format so that you can play short sessions without having to compromise the experience. These missions are randomly generated so that the gameplay doesn't grow stale, earning you money to buy equipment, items to craft into gear, and codices which can be found scattered about the levels that tell you more about the era and places in which the game takes place.
Identity does not replicate the console experience, but it does offer a decent piece of the franchise for fans on the mobile platform. It's free to download with optional in-app purchases, so it's worth a download and a try (although you should be warned that the initial launch will take some time, and we advise playing over Wi-Fi).
As for the lack of variety in the player characters, we have contacted Ubisoft to find out if the developer intends to remedy this in a later update to the game and will update when we have more information.