I spent a portion of my weekend playing Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, and I came away thinking that it may end up being more successful than the current-gen-only Unity.
That’s because it’s essentially Black Flag version 1.5, a game I thoroughly enjoyed. It doesn’t try anything dramatically different and instead improves a number of things I loved about Black Flag to the point where I enjoyed myself despite the previous-gen graphics. It’s also considerably less glitchy than its current-gen counterpart, Assassin’s Creed: Unity.
You play as Shay Cormac, an Assassin-turned-Templar who switched sides after doing something on the Assassins’ behalf that his conscience wasn’t happy about. He still has his hidden blades, streamlined parkour abilities and the option to assassinate targets willy-nilly, but his skills are firmly dedicated to stopping the Assassins from carrying out more dastardly deeds.
This time around, the world is bigger than it was in Black Flag with several large archipelagos to sail around, and it’s absolutely packed with things to collect, missions to perform and upgrades to earn.
Here’s what I’ve enjoyed so far:
- Templars are surprisingly noble and likeable
- Seeing things from the other side’s perspective puts a fresh spin on the Assassins/Templar story
- Ship to ship combat is better with new weapons and upgrades
- Protagonist Shay has new grenades with which to wreak havoc, allowing him to kill/sleep/berserk multiple targets at once
- Lots of new swordfighting animations and kill moves
- Assassination interceptions have you trying to keep targets alive by stopping assassins before they near their target
- Black Flag’s companion app game has been integrated into the main game
- The sheer number of collectibles and side-missions is staggering
- New icebergs and wintery levels are nice to look at (and shoot)
And here are some things that have annoyed me:
- Traversing the world is as fiddly as ever – I still end up going the wrong way or jumping to the wrong spot every now and then
- Combat hasn’t changed much – it’s still a case of block, counter, pull a big guy off-balance and then stab him, rinse and repeat
- Terrible texture pop-in. Occasionally the world looks like an early 3D game from the 1990s until the textures load
- Dealing with hidden assassins who hide and stab Shay as he walks past. Argh
- I still don’t know what the hell is going on at Abstergo
- Some of the acting is a little hammy – Shay’s Irish accent slips every now and then, too
I’d put “terrible graphics” into that last category, but that’s just because I’m playing on the Xbox 360 after seeing Unity running on an Xbox One and honestly Rogue looks no worse than Black Flag did.
Since Black Flag did quite well, and Rogue is essentially a continuation of the assassins-on-the-high-seas theme, I see no reason why Rogue shouldn’t out-sell Unity which is busy earning itself a poor reputation with its glitches getting a lot of heat from gamers since its launch last week. Ubisoft is busy patching the worst of them out, but it may already be too late. Only time will tell.
So should you get Rogue? My 12 hours with the game so far say yes, you should.
[Image – Assassinscreed.Ubi.com]