UPDATE: You can find my review here.
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
This game reminds me of Tarantino’s joke from Desperado.
Here’s why. It feels like Ubisoft made a bet with somebody that they could stand still, piss on themselves, reskin Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and the end result will be you applauding their efforts in delivering a stellar game.
I’ve already discussed how I feel about the next-gen version of Assassin’s Creed and with that being said, without any exaggeration, Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a do-over for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The major difference so far being that you’re not really building a homestead but rather taking back Assassin bases much like you did to Templar camps back in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood or Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.
They recycled a lot of resources to save development time, I assume. Since Ubisoft chose to drop two Assassin’s Creed games on our faces this year, I guess sacrifices had to be made.
As a result, there is almost nothing new here. I can’t remember what New York looked like in Assassin’s Creed III but you’re going back to it in Rogue. You get a ship that isn’t the Jackdaw to command, but may as well be. You sail the Atlantic Ocean along the coast of Canada and USA in similar fashion to the way you sailed around the Caribbean. There are ships to raid for supplies and quests to be undertaken that take you along the coast and through the towns. You even chase down loose pages with sea shanties written on them as they float through the breeze, much like you did in Black Flag. Seriously, if you want to know what the gameplay is like, then go to http://www.metacritic.com and find an ACIV review because I’m not even going to bother with it.
The Abstergo sections are similar to Black Flag as well. The hacking mini-game is different but your rewards are similar; information in video, text or audio form. Instead of finding post-it notes, you’re hunting down tablets. Luckily the inside-the-animus parts of the game help you wash the familiar out of your mouth.
Despite the similarities between Rogue and Black Flag, Rogue feels more like an Assassin’s Creed game than Black Flag did. Black Flag’s focus and insistence on forcing me to be a pirate was a little annoying. The protagonist of Rogue, Shay Patrick Cormac, turns his back on the Assassin’s early on because he believes their motives to be reckless and selfish.
There is an absolutely amazing running sequence early on in the game before Shay turns away from the Assassins that needs to be played by any Assassin’s Creed fan. For once the environment doesn’t just sit static, it crumbles around you and you must free run to safety. The only problem with the sequence is that it strips the context away from doing parkour moves. You have to follow a linear path through the stage to escape without deviating from it. The game won’t let you climb a wall during it unless it is a wall you’re supposed to climb. It can be confusing because the game changes the rules in the middle of mission but other than snow slowing you down, the environment never actively tried to hinder your progress in previous games.
Ubisoft played it a little more safe with Rogue. The game is packed with the ideas that worked such as taking over bases and raising your flag like you’ve done in Brotherhood. In this case you’re doing it on behalf of the Templars. You also will renovate buildings to add to your income like you’ve done in Assassin’s Creed II. So far the Tower Defense and stagecoach driving mini-games do not return. In some ways this game is the culmination of everything that worked with previous games and so far it comes together beautifully.
If only I never played Black Flag, I wouldn’t see it everywhere I look in Rogue. You could tell me I’m playing Black Flag DLC and I would totally believe you.
Shay is another protagonist everybody is bound to like. He’s fun and playful but serious when he needs to be. So far he doesn’t have daddy issues like practically every other assassin did. He is also not in agreement with the plan the Assassins are enacting. Soon after learning about Shay, the time for him to try and stop the Assassins arises. I do not want to spoil exactly why he turns away from them but Ubisoft begins to invite us into the grey area they spent seven games establishing. The grey area that would suggest a Templar’s ambition is no less noble than an Assassin’s, rather the approach is different. Templars believe in peace through control and the Assassin’s Brotherhood embrace free will. Shay starts to believe that the assassins treat anything between them and their goals as collateral damage. After many people die as Shay does the Assassin’s bidding, he has a change of heart. Then the game begins.
Shay sets out to put a roadblock between the Assassins and their goals. Sure enough he winds up meeting the Templars. Right about there is where my first impression ended.
Despite it looking and feeling a lot like Assassin’s Creed: Greatest Hits, I am enjoying it a lot more than Black Flag so far. I like the plot a lot more, I like the protagonist a lot more and I enjoy the pacing of the game. I’ve seen a new enemy pop up in the game. I think they are called “stalkers”. Their role is to hide and ambush you. They can be detected by listening for whispers and using Eagle Vision.
Other than that, the game really does look and feel like DLC for Black Flag despite being just as big as any other fully realized Assassin’s Creed game.
I haven’t encountered any other new enemies or the assassins yet. I also don’t know how much customization I have with Shay or seen any of the nifty Templar weapons. But soon.
If there was a way to get Unity’s visuals and controls into Rogue’s story, I think that might have been the game more people wanted. But I think the real magic here is that Ubisoft made a game with Black Flag’s guts that is being received better than one they built from scratch.
I’m in the minority here, but I like Unity more so far and I’m actually enjoying both games quite a bit.
The Jaded Gamer (IamFN2K@gmail.com)