A frosty reception
Do we need two Assassins Creed games in one year? Its a question that Assassins Creed Rogue the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 counterpart to the new-gen Unity struggles to answer, offering a perfunctory exercise in action-adventure designed entirely around resolving dangling plot threads left by the kill-a-thon series last entry.
But whereas Black Flags pirating adventure even-handedly balanced its convoluted narrative with fresh ideas, Rogue charts a course of reiteration, tossing the personality overboard and lazily regurgitates enough fan-favourite content to placate gamers constrained to last-gen hardware.
Its a shame, as theres an interesting twist on convention at the core of Rogues design. Rather than following another Assassin on the eternal mission to eradicate the Templar order, the perspective has been switched. Anti-hero Shay Patrick Comac offers an opportunity for players to explore the darker side of the centuries-spanning feud, but the impact of the Templar power is criminally minimal. Youre still outfitted like an assassin, with only minor tweaks to your standard moveset and arsenal, Ubisoft Sofia outright ignoring the concepts gameplay potential in favour of falling back on routine.
Despite its stagnant design, theres still plenty to do. Shay has his own ship and can travel the seas searching out bounty, engaging in entertaining naval combat and sail the Arctic wastelands to discover new land. And what little time is spent ashore is filled with enough side missions and collectable to deny your mini-map any space to breathe. But with the landscape at sea sparsely populated and the terra firma featuring buildings that sit a mere few stories above ground, the backdrop is less than thrilling. This is largely a game about filling in the gaps, rather than soaking in the atmosphere.
And thats the lasting impression that Rogue leaves. A game cobbled together from existing assets to half-heartedly fulfil an obligation to its fan base. If there was a concerted effort here to further engage the epoch-jumping mythology and elaborate on the mystical ways of the assassin, then it missed the target entirely.