It’s been a while since I’ve picked up an Assassin’s Creed game but I have been annually informed that I would love the newest addition to Ubisoft’s yearly franchise. It finally caught my attention with Black Flag, the first one that seemed to break the AC mold. When I got the chance to sit down with Rogue, a game that flew under the radar in a bizarre dual release marketing campaign, I was really looking forward to being won back to the series. While Rogue may not have accomplished this lofty goal, it turned out to be an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
Set during the Seven Years’ War in the 18th century, Rogue follows Shay Patrick Cormac, a decidedly brash assassin in North America who is tasked with hunting down the ‘Pieces of Eden’ because of his ability to sail a ship. The pieces are spread around the world, taking us to exotic and familiar locales alike. During the hunt, Shay learns that the Pieces of Eden have been causing devastating earthquakes and despite this, the Assassins plan to continue to look for them. Disenfranchised, Shay abandons the Assassins, but is nearly killed in the process. After sometime alone he is recruited by the Templars where he begins to hunt his former brothers as he tries to stop the Assassin’s from getting their hands on the device.
Simultaneously, you are researching Cormac’s memories for Ubisoft—I mean, Abstergo Entertainment—when the Animus mainframe is corrupted. You have to clean up computers, collect data and play out more memories to clear the corrupted files and eventually tie Rogue to Unity.
The gameplay is pretty much exactly what you expect from an AC game. While on land, you sneak through settlements as you hunt for pick-ups, chests, Animus fragments, panoramic views etc. while getting the drop on unsuspecting soldiers. When moving between settlements, you take the high seas in your ship Morrigan and navigate the enemy laden waters. If you don’t manage to sneak around them you’ll find yourself pulled into some pretty cool naval battles.
The naval front is where I had the most fun with the game. The sailing itself was pretty basic and yet somehow relaxing while the encounters you have with enemy ships can range from comically easy to strategically difficult, depending on the level of the opposing vessel and how many you decide to take on. You can also pick up spilled cargo along the way that you can use to upgrade the Morrigan for a tougher hull, bigger guns, more crew, while sailing you have to endure the non-stop singing of the crew who also loudly cheer every single time you re-board your ship, so it’s not all pleasant. All of this was taken from AC4, but it still works here.
On land, where you’re the actual assassin that the franchise title indicates, is where I had the least fun. What turned me off the franchise in the first place was how repetitious playing it became. All of that is still present as you have to find items that are sprinkled across areas and for a trophy hunter/ mild OCD case like myself, I can’t leave until I’ve discovered and claimed all of it. To hinder the player from completing these tasks is clunky controls that seemed almost designed to annoy. While the Crouching Tiger-esque treetop running and building scaling is as simple as holding a button and jumping, actually pointing Shay where you want him to go is such an arduous task that it I had to wonder how the controls where still this aggravating so many iterations into the franchise. Also, your ability to hide seems to be completely random as you will get sporadically spotted no matter how clever the hiding spot or, you could be in plain sight and no one will acknowledge you at all.
There was some fun to be had in the inventive and very violent ways to kill people, but even that was often taken away from me as my swords would often just disappear, leaving me scrambling to find my weapons from the menu while soldiers skewered and shot me. The places you visited did have some entertaining mini-games that you can wager on that range in difficulty from place to place and game to game. This may or may not have offset a lot of my killing time while on land.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue is going to be a good addition to fans of the franchise who don’t mind playing what is essentially a roll together of Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed III. All of the familiar sneaking and stabbing and item hunting are all there and the naval sections seems directly lifted from Black Flag with entertaining results. While I enjoyed my first foray into the AC universe in sometime, there really wasn’t enough here to bring me back to the fold. There’s always next-gen, Assassin’s Creed.
Love Assassin's Creed? Read our review of Assassin's Creed: Unity.