Right from the get-go Assassin’s Creed Rogue has been seen as the inferior game to Assassin’s Creed Unity. The international PR and hype train all but pushed Unity through the ceiling, but now Rogue is here to remind us that flying under the radar is as good as a stealth game gets.
Shay Cormac is your new hero and protagonist. He’s a wet-behind-the-ears assassin who’s just been accepted into the brotherhood, when, not after long, he finds there to be something that’s not sitting well with him. The Assassin’s, unbeknown to them, are about to destroy cities and take many lives with their believes in place. To prevent this he steals an important manuscript and ultimately ends up on the opposite side – The Templars. That’s right, you’re about to take this journey on as a Templar.
An all-in-one Assassin’s Creed
What makes Rogue unique from the start is that it incorporates an area that you’ve seen in Assassin’s Creed 3, as well as characters that was made famous in Assassin’s Creed 3. It ultimately ties up with Assassin’s Creed Unity, which means you really should be playing this before moving on to Assassin’s Creed Unity and it really feels as if you’re playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. In other words – it’s got this ‘best of’ feel to it. Adding the Templar bits to it is what sets it apart from previous games, though it has familiar tendencies that’s great to explore again.
Shay’s movement and overall manoeuvrability is no different to any Assassin’s Creed game before it. He can still climb the highest of buildings and sneak up to unsuspecting victims, but he’s got more artillery at hand. Your sleep and beserk darts return as before, but he’s also got access to a firecracker dart. This dart, as you can imagine, lures foes away from an area you’re trying to enter and should it hit an explosive barrel you’ll see some serious fireworks. It’s however the grenade launcher that brings the biggest change to your weapon-based combat. Again there’s a sleep and beserk grenade, which means that you can have crowds falling asleep in milliseconds, or have them all losing their minds as they attack their own kind. The shrapnel grenade explodes and can kill groups of soldiers, though I mainly used it to blow down wooden walls to find me some treasures.
More bang for your buck
Yes, you’re still on the lookout for treasure, templar maps, viewpoints and Animus fragments. You’re still hunting animals to upgrade Shay’s stats and create holsters to carry more ammunition and, as before, you’ll continue down the same road of securing territory. In this case it’s called Gang Headquarters that you’re claming for your own allegiance. Shay now has new foes to worry about, seeing as the Assassin’s are now your enemy. When your screen turns white on the sides and you hear voices you instantly press down on your left analogue stick to enter Eagle Vision, as it’s a ‘Stalker’ that’s in the process of hunting you down. Because the game has quite a bit of verticality you’ll be looking around you, below you and above you to find the stalkers (which can come at you in groups). Like with previous Assassin’s Creed multiplayer games you’ll have a circle around Shay to point you into the right direction. Once it lights up with a solid colour you’re in the right vicinity and it’s up to you to pan the camera and find them. Yes, you are still going to run after shanty music icons to unlock new songs for your crew to sing on your ship. Ship? Yup, you’ll be manning a ship again and it’s as awesome as it’s ever been, if not perhaps a bit better than before.
When on-deck you’ll once again be in charge of your crew and how they go about their business while out at sea. Pressing the A button drops the sails slightly to move forward. Press it again and you’ll move at a faster speed. The last press of the A button will pan the camera out to a third-person perspective and you’ll be cruising the ocean on the lookout for adventure… and other ships. This time you have to keep your wits about yourself. Get rammed by another ship and they’ll board your ship in their effort to take everything that’s onboard, including your crew and stock. You can also now press the RB button to shoot away as you would with a modern mounted machine gun, which helps you in your efforts to blow up some barrels in the hope of sinking other ships at a faster rate. Defeat the competitor and board it and you can take away your share of treasures (including much-needed items to increase stats on your ship). You can also repair your ship or send it off to your fleets as the Naval Campaign returns to help you grow your money in the bank. You’ll need the money as you will face tough competition once you sail in other waters.
Next Gen? Last Gen FTW!
You’ll explore three distinct territories – The North Atlantic, New York and River Valley. The North Atlantic, as the name implies, will take you to snowy landscapes and oceans. You can bash through sheets of ice, though it will slow you down, and should Shay drop into the cold waters his health will deplete if you take too long. What’s a fun new addition here is that you can shoot at icebergs that will collapse and damage nearby ships. River Valley feels very much like a return to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and New York is a return to a big city that will bring back fond memories of playing as Ezio in Assassin’s Creed 2.
Considering that most games, when developers move on to next generation hardware, gets the wash-rinse-repeat treatment it’s refreshing to see that Rogue got the love it deserved. For a Xbox 360 game it looks better than Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (on the Xbox 360). Particle effects are more prominent and the various terrain textures must’ve squeezed the DVD disc to its limit. If there’s anything to complain about it’s the length. I finished the main campaign in about 12 hours, which is very short for an Assassin’s Creed title, but I can guarantee you that the sidemissions will triple that number. There’s also no multiplayer mode included, which, I’ll tell you, was great fun in previous games. It’s also important that novices are aware that this game was not meant for you. The tutorial is very basic and the plot leaves you right in the thick of things. You’ll be confused, best you play the earlier games before tackling this.
At this point you’re thinking, “But what about the Animus and Abstergo?”. Oh, it’s there, but I don’t want to say a word. I would just spoil too much. Let’s just say that things aren’t what they seem to be. Those sneaky writers at Ubisoft. The word ‘rogue’ is exactly the opposite of what the game turned out to be. It’s been a diamond in the rough and it’s now time for you to let it shine. Go buy this now if you want to see how everything ties together before moving on to Assassin’s Creed Unity.