Review: Assassin’s Creed Rogue
Rogue slots into Assassin’s Creed canon snugly between AC III and AC IV and the current-gen only Unity. This by default means that there’s a lot backstory to the already huge over-arching plot of the series which was never really needed but it’s by no means unwelcome.
Taking control of Irish chap Shay Patrick Cormac, you start off your assassin career well. He’s not as likeable as Ezio or Kenway but better than the other few who fail to make a positive impression. After undertaking a few missions for the Creed he decides that after a truly destructive mission that he doesn’t like what the Creed are doing and how they go about their business. When you see the mission you can understand his motives and this is where the title Rogue comes from as you switch allegiances and join forces with the Templar Order to take down his former colleagues. No matter how bad the Templar have been, they haven’t caused as much chaos as the Creed have with a single action. Let’s just say that even Michael Bay hasn’t caused as much destruction in one of his Transformer films as this mission had.
Rogue also sees a few returning faces from AC III and AC IV and with the action switching to the other side of the war you get to see these characters and organisations in a new light and this spin does give some interesting insights to what we’ve seen go on before. The only problem is that with the game being around half the length of the other titles you don’t get as much detail as it’s a far more whirlwind overview of the plot than if this was a fully-fledge title rather than being second fiddle to Unity.
Talking of playing second fiddle as you can imagine with Unity, that took all the resources for any kind of improvement and new features. However with Black Flag being such a fun game and this piggybacking on its success you can expect a very similar, if slightly cut back, romp through the Americas.
Apart from a few tiny tweaks to the formula (enemies can now board your ship) and items such as the new grenade launcher and a silenced air rifle this is essentially a carbon copy of Black Flag. However approach Rogue as an expansion pack rather than sequel as every activity and mission is pretty much a reskin of what’s gone on before, taking into account you’re now working for the Templars and not the Creed.
And some aspects have been removed entirely. For example the underwater diving missions are no longer available as you can’t dive in sub-zero temperatures because your health depletes. You still have pretty much that everyone enjoys from the previous titles but everything about this game screams “let’s get one final use out of all our assets”. Other AAA games bought less new features to the table in the past but there’s still an impression that Rogue exudes that gives the taste of half-baked title. But at the end of the day, if you want more sailing and stealthy stabbing then you’ve got exactly what you want.
The main casualty of playing second fiddle to Unity is the removal of any kind of multiplayer component. Normally this would seriously harm the score in the same way WWE 2K15 has due to removal of long standing features. But with Black Flag more than capable to sustain any people still dabbling on its multiplayer and the rest currently tackling Unity’s offering no one will miss this component in my opinion.
As you can imagine very little effort has gone into making the game any more technically accomplished with as much resource thrown into Unity as possible (even then Unity still didn’t have enough!). In fact I saw lots of evidence that little polishing has been done, let along improving the game’s engine. There weren’t any problematic bugs that I encountered as the foundations this game is built upon is now a good few years old but the amount of clipping, poor textures and shadows show that love and care wasn’t lavished upon Rogue.
There’s also a huge amount of asset recycling. Be it sea shanties, ship upgrades and the environment (just with added snow effects in some places) Rogue could easily have been another sequence or two in Black Flag due to the sheer volume of similarities. The other problem is that the bland arctic circle setting combined with last-gen graphics are now looking rather rough in comparison to other game’s we’re currently playing on our PS4s and Xbox Ones.
To sum up
With every aspect of this game essentially recycled content, approach Rogue as an expansion pack rather than a sequel. Rogue does offers another decent outing of sea faring and stalking enemies whilst serving up a good spin of the series’s canon but don’t expect anything fresh.
Format reviewed: PS3
Assassin’s Creed Rogue is our now on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.