I’m a massive fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. Brotherhood was one of my very first Xbox 360 games when I first started getting into gaming and I have since played every AC game available on that console. Which makes it kind of disappointing that Rogue is most likely the last that I’ll be playing for a while, because I get the feeling that it’s the last one that they’ll put out on this console and my internet connection is too weak to upgrade to a current gen console so I can play the new releases, so it looks like this is it. (Unless of course, Ubisoft surprise me and release another Xbox 360/PS3 exclusive title, or make one for both generations). And what a way to go out on.
Yes, the gameplay mechanics may be nothing new – in terms of sailing and non-sailing, to traditional Assassin’s Creed fans and despite the fact that you play a Templar in this one there are hardly any new tools. You still use the same Assassin weapons, but despite this, the game still feels fun. It still feels exciting, entertaining, and comes with the best story since the days of Ezio Auditore, blending elements from both ACIII and AC: Black Flag where it acts both as a prequel to the latter and a sequel to the former. It has the bonus of making you look at the traditionally black and white war between Templar and Assassin in a whole new light, giving you the chance to play as an Assassin who has turned against his former brothers. You spend a good portion of the first arc as a loyal servant of the Order, but doubts start to increase and after one fatal mission it all goes downhill. Shay Cormac certainly makes for an interesting protagonist from what we’ve seen before, as he doesn’t actually come across as a cold hearted villain as the trailers would have us believe.
Many traditional elements from previous Assassin’s Creed games return, making this game feel like a ‘Best Of’, if you will. Urban Renewal is back, and Gang Hideouts play a big role in the area of New York that you get to play in. There’s also hunting, and you can send ships that you capture on naval missions in a way similar to that of assassins in Brotherhood. It’s certainly an interesting throwback to previous games and gives you plenty of side things to occupy your time with, but if you’re more of a story fan than a completist, you will find yourself ignoring them virtually altogether apart from the tutorials. Indeed, I only started exploring them properly when I ended up getting stuck on one of the later missions. So it’s not strictly necessary to hunt to upgrade supplies and neither is it to upgrade your equipment and ship apart from a few small cases. So this is ultimately disappointing, given how much time you’d spend doing these things in Brotherhood, for example.
The game echoes the best parts of Black Flag. The sea battles are more focused, easier to control and with less glitches. (Although, I did encounter a hilarious glitch where my first mate would end up standing in a crouching position on the barrier of my ship for an entire journey). Forts play a role as usual in conquering areas and you get to explore three different areas of the map – New York being just one of them, as well as revisit some scenery such as Achilles’ house from III. There’s also certain characters that make a welcome appearance, from both III and Black Flag, but I’ll keep the rest apart from Achilles secret. But they play a big part of the game both during your time from III and Black Flag as it wraps up some of the leftover storylines from the latter game,
Yes, Rogue has little to offer in terms of gameplay from Black Flag, and the present day storyline is as dull as it has ever been (Can’t we have a third person, Desmond-esque thing back already? If you’re going to drag us away, often at the most exciting moments, at least give us reason to care), but the story set in the past – during the Seven Years War, is as exciting as it’s ever been. Shay Cormac makes for a fascinating lead and it’s been a blast playing as this character.
Even though most gamers will have upgraded to the current gen console by now, those still stuck on the Xbox 360 or the PS3 will get something out of this. It’s fun, immersive and for the most part, awesome despite the occasional problems that it suffers from.