Assassin’s Creed Rogue had its cards stacked up against it. A token game for last generation console hold-outs that uses virtually all of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s mechanics, it wasn’t promoted nearly as well as Ubisoft’s main entry which is Assassin’s Creed Unity. In fact, no one is seriously expecting anything out of it.
Let’s just say that I’m happy that I did, and I am rewarded with an refreshing “old” game.
First, let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way: this game IS identical to Black Flag. It retains much of what makes the previous game so fun to play, while adding in a few – albeit minor – improvements of its own. Being the third game running on the Anvil Next engine, it has been refined to near perfection. Or at least, as good as the last gen consoles can afford it to be. There are loads of new quests, tons of things to collect, and new weapons to check out, but gameplay-wise, it’s still the same as the last two titles before it.
If you are someone who demands cutting-edge graphics and innovative gameplay, this game is clearly not for you.
That’s a big reason why people may want to pass on this one. If you are someone who demands cutting-edge graphics and innovative gameplay, this game is clearly not for you. The visuals are a wee-bit better than Black Flag’s but not enough to make anyone scream in delight. However, it does a pretty good job of letting you feel the cold of the North Atlantic. Shooting icebergs is now a favorite past-time of mine, especially since destroying one makes some waves that for some reason, gives me joy.
Shay Patric Cormac is one of the most visually pleasing characters ever to grace an Assassin’s Creed game, and his get-up reflects his transformation from a free-spirited Assassin, to a clean-shaven, order-loving Templar. Even if you wear Assassin outfits after Shay’s defection to the Templars, his face still reflects the volte face he made. These small visual cues may seem irrelevant to the public, but it provides eye-candy to those to whom these simple things matter.
The setting can go from the really fun (like a pre-fire New York), to the really repetitive (River Land Valley locations). Thankfully, a lot of the action still takes place on water, as you battle the same old ship-types with a new ship. It’s every bit as fun as in Black Flag, except that your enemies can now board you, and you have some cool new ship upgrades to play with. It also helps that you are fighting for and against specific factions, which can (and will), save your ass whenever you bite off more than you can chew.
tons of things to collect, and new weapons to check out, but gameplay-wise, it’s still the same as the last two titles before it.
If there’s one really annoying element in the game, it’s that Shay’s navigation skills aren’t as good as both Connor and Edward.
If there’s one really annoying element in the game, it’s that Shay’s navigation skills aren’t as good as both Connor and Edward. That’s really a head-scratcher since this game shares the same mechanics as the two that preceded it. I’ve always had to re-do specific levels because Shay doesn’t see, to be able to grab certain ledges like he should.
The music is pretty good, nothing really memorable – except for the main theme – which had a few notes taken from the track “Ezio’s Family” from Assassin’s Creed II. Makes me wonder if Shay might be a descendant of Ezio (which is possible, given that he had at least one descendant from an illegitimate child in the person of Subject 16). A more practical reason might be that the track was simply rehashed, which would be pretty sad if that’s the case. Voice over’s generally fine (some Irish netizens said Shay’s accent is laughable, but since I’m not an expert when it comes to European accents, let’s just say that it, at least, works for me), but I have noticed that Shay grunts quite a lot. As for the rest of the sound effects, they were lifted straight from Black Flag.
Although this title brings nothing new to the table in terms of gameplay, sound effects, and innovations, it does give an extra focus on the story-telling. Instead of a heroic freedom-fighting Assassin, you’re a a Templar, albeit one trained by the Assassins. After a traumatic experience where he questions the Creed and everything he has fought for, Shay turns the tables on his former brethren, going all Anakin Skywalker on them. Unlike Anakin, however, Shay’s reasons aren’t as shallow, if sort of cliche. But it does bring the possibility of the Assassins not being entirely the noble Brotherhood we thought it was. It is interesting to note, however, that the game never really exonerates the Templars for the evil they’ve done in most of the games in the series, it just reinforces the idea that not all Templars are monsters. An idea introduced in AC III. In fact, Ubisoft threw one at that idea by making Haytham Kenway, the likeable Templar Grand Master and villain in that game, seem like a monster in this one.
This is where the strength of the game lies. While it uses the the same system from Black Flag, the story is much more thought out, much more philosophical.
This is where the strength of the game lies. While it uses the the same system from Black Flag, the story is much more thought out, much more philosophical. The Templars are still as evil as they come. But now you see their philosphy and their ideals. They’ve committed atrocities throughout the game’s history, but you’ll also realize that the Assassins made a lot of questionable decisions that cost a lot of lives too.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue is full of bitter-sweet moments for various reasons. This may possibly be the last Assassin’s Creed game for the old systems. You meet again – and bid farewell – to Adewale. You witness a darker, more cynical Haytham Kenway than when we saw him in ACIII. You see Achilles Davenport before he became the broken man he was when Connor met him. And you systematically dismantle the same Brotherhood you helped build up for the last six games or so. Ubisoft’s franchise may be starting to lose its luster, with Unity being released full of bugs and glitches and the games themselves are starting to feel uninspired. But if it wants to, it can still tell a pretty good story.