Assassin’s Creed takes a leap of faith into the dark side. From the point of view of the Templar’s.
Title: Assassin’s Creed Rogue
Release Date: November 11th, 2014
Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a departure of sorts from the series roots. Playing as Shay Patrick Cormac, former Assassin turned Templar. The modern day plot takes place one year after those seen in Black Flag, and follows yet another unnamed Abstergo Entertainment employee tasked with reliving the memories of the games protagonist (antagonist?) via the Animus. Rogue does an excellent job meshing what was good about AC3 and 4 into one cohesive and very fun game. From exemplary naval combat, to the series hallmark of parkour, and the inter meshing of history’s greatest figureheads and most talked about events.
In the beginning we take over Shay as he makes his way through an unnamed forest with only one path, forward. As you move onward you see an Assassin in the distance and as you take the dive for the kill he just narrowly avoids the blade… then begins laughing. What? Turns out our Assassin turned Templar isn’t quite a traitor yet, and this was only a drill. This is where the game introduces us to the Assassins we will be working with. Remember Achilles from AC3? Well he’s young, in his prime, and the mentor of the Brotherhood in the West. With his band of Assassin’s doing everything they can to stop the Templar threat. We learn the basics, from stealth, combat, and even the enhanced naval controls.
Combat hasn’t changed much (if at all) from the series, and interestingly enough doesn’t have the enhanced climbing features AC Unity has, considering they came out the same day. The game does feel a little stiff to those who have played Unity and Syndicate at first but you quickly get over it with the sheer thrill the series is known for. Traversing large cities, climbing the great outdoors via the frontier introduced in AC3, and sailing the seas with the crew singing a shanty and you desperately trying not to sing along yet failing. After spending some time doing the work of a novice, Achilles sends us on our first important mission, it’s here Shay’s morals begin to come into conflict with that of the Assassin’s Creed.
Shay is sent by Achilles to track down a Templar group which has been deciphering a Precursor artifact which reveals the locations of several Pieces of Eden. The Assassin’s work with Benjamin Franklin to locate the nearest one, which happens to be in Lisbon Portugal, not wanting them get into the hands of the Templars, Shay is sent off to get it first. As Shay gets his hands on the Piece of Eden, it disintegrates and triggers a massive earth quake which destroys the whole city. Just narrowly escaping being buried, he makes his way back to confront Achilles believing that was his intent all along. Shay decides to steal the manuscript which is necessary for deciphering the locations of the remaining pieces in order to prevent further events like Lisbon, and Haiti before it.
He is quickly discovered and must make his escape. The assassin’s catch up with him at a cliffs edge, demanding he hand over the Manuscript, claiming he doesn’t know the whole story, thus is uninformed. After what he saw, and had ultimately caused, he decides to jump off the cliff knowing his life would be lost, but the Manuscript destroyed and further disasters prevented. Just before he jumps off the cliff he is shot by his best friend, Liam and he tumbles over the edge. Luckily for Shay, he survives to live another day, however his feelings against the Brotherhood are even stronger than before, and he vows to protect innocence by stopping the Assassin’s at any cost.
This is when the game truly opens up and starts to show you where you can truly get lost in the world. As seen in previous games, the areas, both the city (New York), and the seas are broken up into areas, and you must remove the bastions of power in each section to claim it for the Templars. You can hunt to upgrade your personal gear as seen in AC3, attack vessels on the open sea to gain materials to upgrade your own ship. Capture those ships to add to your own fleet for a mini game not unsimilar to that in AC4. Collect a myriad of objects, some from the series past, such as Animus fragments, and some new like Viking weapons, Cave Paintings, chests, and so on.
The game can be finished in about 12 or so hours if you rush through the story, but there is easily 50 hours worth of content in the whole of the game. Several of the missions will require a beefed up ship, and if you don’t raid a few other ships and add some better weapons and armor to your own, they will be difficult to pass. The missions themselves are hit or miss, as has always been with the series, however most of them are satisfying, and a good mix of challenge and fun. Although there are a few I can think of that don’t make the objective clear enough, or you don’t get the tale tell warning to defend yourself quickly enough, and you get killed in what feels like a cheap fashion.
Playing as a Templar the developers were able to add some features into the game they otherwise weren’t able to which brings in variety to the series in a fresh way. Assassin’s will often be lying in wait to ambush you from above, or within the brushes, or even hay barrels. Which makes you have to not only pay attention to your surroundings, but it also means you have to be more deliberate and careful not to go sprinting after a target down uncharted territory.
All in all the entry in the series does a very good job fixing what fans didn’t particularly like about an unlikable character in AC3, refine the aspects of 3 and 4 into one cohesive experience, and tying up the stories of 3, 4, and Unity in such a way that it makes them all seem like they were planned from the beginning. Sure it felt a little old in the animation department at first, and the combat didn’t change, and the mission structure could have been improved rather than sticking with what was already made. But in a title like this, which was admitted to be put together so as not to leave Last Generation owners in the dark without a game in the series. The developers did a very good job taking components from the games, from story, to mechanics, and everything in-between and making it one of the better entries in the last several years. If you have yet to play the game, and are a fan of the series, I recommend looking into it.