There’s no debating that Assassin’s Creed Unity has taken its fair share of the more recent Assassin’s Creed headlines, but Assassin’s Creed Rogue has been released in tandem with its big brother…is it just as good?
Well you know what, it ain’t bad at all. It’s classic Assassin’s Creed and something that fans of the series should be more than happy with.
Taking on the role of Shay Patrick Cormac, Assassin’s Creed Rogue sees you play things out from a slightly different perspective; that of a Templar.
As a sworn enemy to the usual Assassin’s that we have been used to over the last seven years, you would have thought that the transition to the ‘other side’ would turn things on it’s head, but it hasn’t. It’s the same old Assassin’s Creed just told from the other side of the coin; albeit a slightly darker more intense coin.
It does however give us the opportunity to explore the AC universe just that little bit more and even though we are playing on the last generation of consoles, everything flows nicely with some outstanding visuals taking us through it all. If you are a veteran of the series, you’ll like what, and indeed who, you find hidden away in the huge North American seas that Rogue populates.
With that in mind, the latest title in the series is much like the last, with a huge emphasis on navigating the open seas, with the wheel of your vessel; the Morrigan, in hand. I have to admit to not particularly enjoying the seafaring nature of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag and unfortunately, I get the exact same feeling this time round. I understand the game is set around the ocean and spotting small islands with a view to exploring them is most definitely pleasing, but as I felt with it’s predecessor, I’d much rather use my own two legs to navigate my way across rooftops and through narrow streets than hop aboard a vessel and spend a good ten minutes sailing across the open sea looking for the next mission.
Whilst out on the big blue however you’ll come across many friendly and not-so friendly ships that are ripe for looting. Ship to ship combat works much like that found in Black Flag and is still a little too slow paced for my liking, with a swift ram onto an enemies hull good enough to deal out enough damage for you and your crew to clamber aboard to sort out the stragglers. Call me old fashioned but Assassin’s Creed shouldn’t involve so much pirating action and it’s a shame the series has ended up this way.
When we do get on to solid ground, Rogue is very much that. Solid. Free running works the same as all previous AC titles (I’m afraid there’s none of the super sexy Unity parkour here) and it’s a cinch to climb to the top of the nearest tree or building in order to synchronize with the numerous viewpoints. Once at the top, the views you get to admire are of the highest quality and whilst again they aren’t in the same league as the next generation Unity, Ubisoft have done a sterling job in creating islands, settlements, forts and an overall environment that does the Xbox 360 proud.
As with all games in the series, the main ‘fun’ comes about when attempting to pull off the odd assassination or two and this is something Rogue excels in. Ranged weapons are available but the most enjoyment must always come from the up close and personal weapons that Shay has at his disposal. Whilst the AI isn’t particularly quick-witted, fighting on the whole is fast, fluid and straight to the point and whether you are wielding a broadsword or taking on the many guards with a pair of hidden blades, you’ll need to be on your toes with plenty of blocking, evading and counterattacking. Sneak up behind them though and a swift knife to the throat happily deals with any ensuing battle. Personally, the softly softly approach is the way I’ve always tried to go about matters and Rogue lets you do this highly efficiently and ‘Assassin’ like. Thankfully!
It’s also the best way to go about things if you fancy going out hunting the wildlife. There are many animals to be found frequenting the land and sea, each of which can be skinned in order to provide crafting supplies and these are a much needed essential if you want to progress through Shay’s missions and sequences. The crafting isn’t as complex as that found in previous games, being fairly basic but does a decent enough job if you are into that kind of thing. If however you’re on the search for the many collectibles that Assassin’s Creed Rogue has scattered around itself then you’ll find much of the loot pinching takes place whilst out on the Morrigan, but there’s also just enough hidden around the islands and forts to keep me interested for a fair amount of time.
If you don’t fancy doing all the hard work yourself, then Ubisoft have very kindly provided us with a number of content packs that point out the locations of all collectibles and technology…for a price of course. I’m not a fan of such microtransactions but am sure that there will be many out there who find their addition a bit of a lifesaver. Indeed, if you’re going on a bit of an achievement hunt, then you may just wish to invest in one of the additional little packs to help you out. Similarly, the inclusion of a world’s worth of ‘Abstergo Challenges’ will see you playing for many hours in an attempt to fully 100% complete matters.
So, if you’ve played Rogue’s big brother Assassin’s Creed Unity, then you may be in for a bit of a shock at the difference the leap in generation can make to a series, because Rogue seems like a ghost town compared to the bustling Parisian experience. We have to remember that we’re looking at a very different environment and game in general though.
However, if you’re a fan of the series, or don’t have access to an Xbox One then Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a damn good addition to what we have known and loved over the best part of the last decade. The story of Shay Patrick Cormac is a fairly decent one and although it isn’t on a par with the time we got to spend with Ezio Auditore back in ACII, it’s still more than worth a playthrough.
Rogue is good, just don’t expect massive improvements over Black Flag.
Not that they were particularly needed.