Joey Sack ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a radical departure for the Assassin’s Creed series in one way: in the game, you live the life of a Templar, painting a picture of the Templar Order being more in the right than the Assassin Brotherhood. In other regards, this game is more of the same as what we got last year with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. And while that is a good thing in some ways, it also gives the whole game a feeling of being more like an expansion pack for Black Flag than its own full-fledged title.
The historical campaign follows Shay Patrick Cormac, an Assassin during the 18th Century, before and during the Seven Years’ War. At the start of the game, Shay is a cocky, arrogant Assassin-in-training, but he still possesses a good moral compass. He is trained as an Assassin and meets characters familiar to fans of the series, including Achilles Davenport, the Mentor of the Colonial Assassins from Assassin’s Creed III, and Adéwalé, Edward Kenway’s quartermaster in Black Flag and the protagonist of Black Flag – Freedom Cry. Achilles tasks Shay with finding Pieces of Eden, powerful relics that the Templars and Assassins both hunt for. Attempting to steal one such Piece results in the deaths of countless innocent people, and shakes Shay’s beliefs in the Assassins to the core.
In order to find redemption, Shay abandons the Assassins and eventually offers his services to the Templar Order as an Assassin Hunter. From then on, Shay works to prevent the Brotherhood from acquiring any more Pieces of Eden and spilling any more innocent blood. One of the biggest concerns that could accompany a game like this has to do with the way the story is told; for the entirety of the Assassin’s Creed series, players have seen the conflict between the Assassin Brotherhood and the Templar Order, but almost always through the eyes of the Assassins. But the change in allegiance allows the story to feel new, and it shows some of the merits of the Templar Order’s methods as opposed to the Assassin Brotherhood’s.
The modern day story of Rogue is pretty lazy, to say the least, with one or two saving graces. You once again take control of an unnamed employee at Abstergo Entertainment Montreal. This time, after you finish the first sequence of Shay’s memories, you accidentally release a virus into the Abstergo cloud servers that puts the building on lockdown. You are then tasked with using Shay’s memories to create a viral campaign to dishearten members of the modern-day Assassin Brotherhood. That is probably the most unique and interesting part of the modern story that actually moves this part of the story forward.
The gameplay looks and feels identical to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, with a few new elements thrown in. You have some new weapons, like an air rifle that takes the place of Edward Kenway’s blowpipe, as well as a grenade launcher that can launch gas bombs and, obviously, explosive devices. Shay acquires his ship, the Morrigan, very early on in the game (literally during the first mission), and you set out on sailing adventures that feel very similar to Black Flag, but in a good way.
The best part of Black Flag was sailing around the West Indies aboard Edward Kenway’s vessel, the Jackdaw, and the Morrigan has a few things that make it somewhat superior to Kenway’s ship. The Morrigan encounters ice in the waters of the North Atlantic, and can cut through the ice after a few upgrades. Icebergs are full of frozen loot, so you’ll want to spend some time destroying them. The combat is exactly the same as in Black Flag; press circle/B to counter at just the right moment, press another button to throw the guy or kill him immediately, depending on which button you press, and so on. It’s rewarding enough, as being able to defeat enemies with a perfectly timed counter is always an enjoyable thing.
The graphics feel like a port of the graphics from Assassin’s Creed IV, and not in a good way. The character models look pasty and kind of angular at some points. The way the mouths move seems a little odd at times, and it actually looks worse than Black Flag’s graphics, and that game had some of the best character models in the Assassin’s Creed series. It’s odd, considering that Black Flag was made for both the current generation of consoles (PS4 and Xbox One) and the previous generation (PS3, Xbox 360), and they look pretty bad by comparison to either port. The way that they subtly integrate the environment around Shay in the scenes after he kills his targets is a minor, but very nice touch; it sort of makes those scenes a little less odd.
All in all, Assassin’s Creed Rogue is good for what it is: an interesting twist on the usual story of the Assassin’s Creed series with a fairly interesting protagonist who happens to come into contact with some fan favorite characters. But other than that, it’s more of the same stuff that we got with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, with some occasionally faltering landscapes, good voice acting, subpar character animations, decent combat, fun times sailing the waters of the North Atlantic, and a modern story that is completely overshadowed by its historical counterpart. Assassin’s Creed Rogue is now available on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and will be coming to PC users some time next year.
Overall Rating: 6/10