Rogue is probably the most fun Assassin’s game since Assassin’s Creed 2. It mixes things up and reinvigorates the story from a whole new perspective.
When I say it’s an Assassin’s game, that’s not entirely true. The main selling point for Rogue is that for the first time you are seeing the conflict through the eyes of someone who has experience both sides of the eternal conflict and ended up being a Templar. You play as Shay Patrick Cormac, a charming Irish ‘rogue’ (har har) and you begin his story as a very loyal Assassin. Shay is an interesting protagonist and this shows in his outspoken opinions on basically everything. If one of his superiors is being a total ass then he’s not afraid to tell them how it is.
Unfortunately for poor old Shay, something happens that completely changes his attitude towards the Assassin’s. I won’t spoil it for those of you who have yet to play Rogue but I will say that it’s very impressive. Following this event, the Assassin’s turn their back (extremely quickly I might add) on Shay and he is forcibly removed from the Assassin Brotherhood. One of Rogue’s main attractions is how sympathetic Shay’s ordeal is. As a huge fan of the Assassin’s it was great to see them from a controversial standpoint. The same allies I had in one half of the game, suddenly became people I very much wanted to see removed from existence. Rogue’s story is great.
In terms of the wider Creed storyline, Rogue is very much about tying up loose knots. Shay’s story is the missing piece in the puzzle between building up the Brotherhood in Black Flag, to rebuilding it in Assassin’s Creed 3. Fan service is abundant in Rogue, with characters name dropping good guys and bad guys from other games that further build the world. It was funny to hear the Assassin’s talk to famous pirates and how they help out the Assassin’s, only for Shay to remark about how stereotypically unassassinlike they are. I’m sure Edward would love to hear you say that Shay.On top of that there are elements in Rogue that only players of the past games will notice, for instance this guys outfit:
The main theme running throughout Rogue is that you now have to kill the Assassin’s. This throws something completely unique into the fray that completely changes how to approach situations. Your targets are no longer ignorant soldiers that are just higher rank, these enemies are fully trained Assassins with all the tools needed to kill Templar’s like you. There were moments where I was chasing one Assassin down an alley, only to be Aerial Assassinated by another who was waiting for me on the roof tops, taking most of my health off with 1 strike. These guys don’t mess around, so be prepared for smoke bombs, pistols, hide and seek, and lots of skilful swordplay that would make Edward Kenway proud.
On top of everything else, Rogue is pretty nice looking game. For a game that is on PS3 and Xbox 360, it looked almost as good as Black Flag did on current-gen! The ocean’s are still fabulously smooth, the cities are nicely rendered and all the character models are nice looking too. The new arctic locations are especially pretty, with the snow crumpling underfoot and the night sky lit in glorious colours. There were a few moments I had to stop and think how amazing it was that this was a last-gen game!
Now for the Rogue’s failings, and there are a few. You hear a lot of talk about how Rogue is just Black Flag DLC, and I can see why people would say that! All the fighting animations are exact same as Edward’s, even down to wielding 2 weapons at once. It slightly removes the immersion when I see an execution performed the exact same way as a game I had played the previous year. I can believe that Edward family line would fight the same, given Assassin Creed’s genetic memory gig, but for Shay it just felt lazy. The same could be said about Rogue’s naval combat as well, as it is nearly identical to Black Flag’s. It was fun at times, like how enemy ships can now board you instead, but for the most part it was the same as I had played before.
Another downside is the fact that this is still an Assassin game with the same wonky free-running. There were times when I shouted at the TV because Shay had launched himself off a roof to his death when I was just trying to jump to another roof. This was just one example of a frequent occurrence, and removed me from the fun completely.
For all of Rogue’s dedication to mixing things up in terms of story, I can’t help but feel that it could’ve gone the extra mile and changes other things too. Compared to Unity’s story, Rogue is a much more compelling adventure. I hope they continue to showcase Templar adventures, as Rogue has lead me to believe that they aren’t as generically evil as we once thought.
Rogue may be the final Assassin game for last-gen, and I think Ubisoft gave it one hell of a send off with Rogue. If you’re a fan of the Assassins Creed series, then you won’t want to miss this!