When the Assassin’s Creed franchise announced that it would be turning to an annual release schedule, many gamers thought that the series would become diluted and overly repetitious. Sadly, the recent launch of the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC only Assassin’s Creed Rogue, it seems that those fears might have been realized.
Been There, Done That
This is mainly because of the fact that it is almost impossible to to discuss what Rogue has to offer, without simply repeating just about everything that has been said in an Assassin’s Creed review over the last few years minus any usage of the word”‘new.” While many of those titles looked to improve or build upon what came before it, Rogue does nothing but cut-and-paste many of the game’s characters, environments and gameplay aspects from the previous two major releases.
Fans of last year’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will feel particularly at home, as Rogue is basically the same game with a different story, some ice and less pirate hats. If you didn’t get enough of setting sails for the majority of your time in game, whaling, hijacking ships, looking for lost cargo/sailors, or even stopping off on a random island to hunt for treasure, you’re in luck, because that’s exactly what you’ll expect from Rogue; with the main difference is that in Rogue, it doesn’t offer undersea diving, due to it being set in the colder northern Atlantic Ocean, which means swimming can kill you and icebergs.
Sadly, while the strongest portion of Rogue is its story, a tale of an ex-assassin, Shay Patrick Cormac, who has turned against his brothers and joined forces with their enemies, the Templars, it is also a massively missed opportunity that does nothing but spotlight its lack of creativity. Instead of seeing the other side of the fence, and there being a drastically different methodology or culture, the Templars are almost indistinguishable from the Assassins on every level. Using the guise of Shay’s history, the missions, the objectives and the interactions are exactly what we have seen before, except your new friends are flying different flags.
New Isn’t Always New
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some new things to appreciate, but they are so far and few between or familiar, that it’s difficult to even consider them a positive thing to note. For example, one new addition to your arsenal is a grenade launcher, but instead of it being what it sounds like, it shoots the standard sleep or berserk elements, but in splash damage. Or it can fire the most unimpressive explosive possible. The other major new weapon is the Air Rifle, which is exactly like a blowgun but with a trigger, except it can also fire firecrackers for distractions.
Possibly the biggest new addition to gameplay are the gang hideouts, which are basically Rogue’s new version of a restricted area in a city. The only difference is that as each hideout gets a leader, there is also a number of Stalkers waiting to ambush you from just about anywhere. These Stalkers could have been an interesting addition, especially if they didn’t feel like they lived in random bushes or closets waiting to accomplish their life long goal of jumping you on the off chance you walked by. Instead of actually hunting and stalking you, they just sit and wait, whispering extremely loudly so you know that they’re there.
Assassin's Creed Rogue Review - Generation Loss (PS3) - PlayStation LifeStyle
As I already said, the story behind Rogue is actually pretty good, especially if you’re a fan of the series and have been keeping up with who’s who over the last few years. Familiar faces and names will pop up throughout the tale, and for me it made the game worth playing, even if it just added to my 10-hour long déjà vu run through the main story. Sitting in between the timelines of AC4 and AC3, Rogue is a treasure trove of details regarding many characters from the whole franchise, which actually gave the overarching storyline a much more congruent feeling as you could see how various characters played a part.
Much like the every Assassin’s Creed title, Rogue is set during a noteworthy period in time, and this time it’s the North American portion of the Seven Years’ War; a battle that waged between Great Britain, Spain and France and led into the American Revolutionary War that is prominent in AC3. This of course leads to the story popping in multiple historical figures and even a handful of significant events, all of which is weaved into a seamless narrative that is among the better ones I have seen from the series. On top of that, as you venture back into the present time into your first-person Abstergo employee, you are able to hack to various computers to learn more details about certain characters from the Assassin’s Creed timeline.
Graphics, Voices and Glitches
Visually, Rogue looks very similar to what we saw on the PS3 version of AC4, but at times a bit worse. In general, the lips and the faces do not have the same level of detail and animation quality to really personify any of the characters in a believable manner. Also, at times lighting issues can cause random artifacts to appear on characters faces, as shadows repeatedly appear and disappear. On top of all of this, the voice work is all over the place, as some characters have pretty good vocals, and others can be completely distracting. In particular, during the story you get a certain first mate who sounds like he is doing a Captain Qwark (Ratchet and Clank) impression every time he tries to speak, and for the life of me I couldn’t take him seriously.
Sadly, while the visuals did have a number of issues, so did the game’s frame rate, which would periodically fluctuate and even stutter the gameplay. This only became more of a problem, as it mixed in with the game’s random bugs, such as the AI getting stuck in a loop of seeing and unseeing me every second while I was hidden, or endlessly walking into walls. There also is a number of occasions where your character will simply pass through objects in the environment, showing some clipping problems as well.
Stab in the Dark
I would find it difficult to truly recommend Assassin’s Creed Rogue to anyone who is not very entrenched into the story line, especially at its full retail price. It was a decent entry into the catalog of games for the series and ties itself to the other titles wonderfully, but short of being a bookmark between two landmark titles, Rogue simply doesn’t bring anything new in terms of gameplay. While it still has endless number of collection quests that can keep players busy for some time, it is almost exactly the same stuff that can be found in AC4, which is an overall better product and has multiplayer. So, unless you have exhausted that game and are in dire need to hit the seas again, I’d wait for this one to go on sale before filling in these story gaps.
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