Release Date: 13 November 2014
Platform: Xbox 360(Reviewed), PS3, PC (To Be Released)
Genre: Open World/Action Adventure
The irony here is that the worst Assassin’s Creed game in the franchise (No, it’s not Unity) has given birth to two of the best Assassin’s Creed games in the franchise. I am talking about Assassin’s Creed III, of course and Ubisoft have made a couple of great games using it as a base. First they made Assassin’s Creed IV which puts you in the shoes of a Pirate and lets you explore the intense action of Naval Combat and now they have developed a game around a Templar as the protagonist, again an element inspired from Assassin’s Creed III. Fans of the franchise are well aware of both these elements, but the way they have been executed in these two games is excellent and Ubisoft definitely needs to be appreciated for it, despite all the bad press it’s getting for Assassin’s Creed Unity.
A Young Assassin Turned Templar
Assassin’s Creed Rogue narrates the story of Shay Patrick Cormac. In the mid-18th century during the French and Indian War, Shay is assigned the task to find Precursor artifacts by his mentor Achilles. After much effort, he finds a Precursor Temple underneath Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. But to his surprise, when he recovers the device it initiates massive destruction though an earthquake, wreaking havoc throughout Lisbon. After narrowly escaping from the jaws of death, many thoughts come to Shay’s mind about the reasons and motives of his Creed. Instead of putting his mind at rest by discussing the matter with fellow Assassins, he gets engaged in colloquy, which ends in a brawl and later he finds himself in New York. Afterwards, he is accepted in the Templar Order and sets off on an epic quest to find the next Precursor Temple so that he can stop the Assassins from triggering the device within. His quest turns him into an Assassin killing machine and during the 8-10 hours of the campaign, he ends up killing most of his former brotherhood.
While the concept still revolves around the enmity between the Assassins and the Templars, the amount of lore present in the game will keep the fans of the franchise hooked to it. The narrative takes a simple approach and tells the tale such that it’s accessible to new comers and at the same time can be enjoyed by long term fans. The game tries its best to develop Shay as a character, but it fails thanks to poor voice acting, which does not convey any emotions. Scenes with intense anger are done right, but situations dealing with sorrow are conveyed poorly. This also makes me worried about the future of Assassins Creed protagonists, because Ubisoft has not been able to create a proper and passable character since Ezio.
Missions in Assassin’s Creed Rogue act as an icing on the cake to a well told story. Throughout my playthrough, I did not once feel that I was doing the same thing twice. The cinematic action of Lisbon’s Temple triggering event which will surely make a developer like Naughty Dog proud, commanding the Morrigan in the strong winds of North Atlantic Ocean and engaging in combat with enemy troops in dense fog, killing your former Mentors and Companions in varied environments using different tactics all come together to keep the game fresh.
Few Twists To Already Successful Formula
The first thing you will notice in Assassin’s Creed Rogue is the camera which might seem as a slight improvement, however its impact on gameplay is huge, as it improves your control over parkour and movement. While most of the mechanics have not been hindered and kept true to their roots, the hand to hand combat has gone through improvements, making it more similar to that in the Batman Arkham franchise. A new weapon, the ‘air rifle’ has been added to the player’s arsenal which gives you the ability to silently kill an enemy from a distance, certain attachments to the weapon allow you to fire sleeping darts, firecrackers and a few other variants of darts. You also have access to a new grenade launcher which shoots grenades and other heavy loads.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue enhances the well established naval combat by introducing a new oil slick weapon which ignites a small part of the sea. Puckle guns also make their debut to enhance the intensity of naval warfare. Enemies now have the ability to board your ships and attack the Morrigan. This new mechanic intensifies the battle specifically with superior ships compared to the Morrigan.
The Assassin’s Creed franchise has always been known for its open design level structure which gives the player the option to indulge in combat the way they want. However this is not the casein Rogue, at times you will feel handicapped because you are not given the ability to make your own way around the situation. Though this restriction is limited to few levels, even then it spoils the fun.
Crafting makes a return with an increased scope and now you have the ability to craft new gear for your Assassin/Templar. The problem here is that the game does not make any use of this mechanic; it’s only in the beginning that you are given a gist of crafting and later in the game you are not prompted to use it. Since the game does not prompt the use of crafting, it makes it feel useless at times. Similar is the case with Gang Control which is a beautifully designed feature and allows you to free the districts of New York from the Assassins. However it is only once that you visit New York throughout the campaign, rendering this rather pointless. A few new mechanics have been thrown in, but game hardly utilises them.
The world of Assassin’s Creed Rogue comprises of three main areas; River Valley which is basically a small land formed out of fragmented land pieces, New York is a perfectly designed city which has few tricks to show up its sleeve and the North Atlantic is a part of an ocean and stands out among the rest thanks to its well crafted environment which adds to the action unlike any other area.
On the graphical side of the game, things look bright and shining. The lighting model of Ubisoft’s engine (Anvil Next) provides a feeling of cosiness in the areas of New York and River Valley and on the other side it adds to the dense environment of the North Atlantic with strong winds and fog. Few minor hiccups and glitches do exist in the game but they will hardly affect your gameplay. With Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Ubisoft has finally achieved its original vision of graphics in Assassin’s Creed games on the last gen consoles.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue has a very well narrated story with immersive levels and varied missions, the only drawback being its poorly designed protagonist and its voice acting. It can be criticised for its poor implementation of new mechanics, but at the end it’s up to you how much juice you can obtain from them. Even though Assassin’s Creed Rogue is the least hyped game in the franchise and did not have any marketing campaign to back it up, if you end up playing it, I can guarantee that it will be able to reserve a spot for itself in your heart.
-Character development of Protagonist
-Underutilisation of new gameplay mechanics.