by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Yarr, me hearties!
Aaaahhh, life on the high seas hasn’t been this fun since… well, since Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. Assassin's Creed Rogue has you taking on the role of Shay Patrick Cormac, an Irishman in 1750's colonial America. Shay has recently been recruited to the Brotherhood of Assassins, but seems to have somewhat of an issue with some of his superiors. Despite this he is given control of a captured ship, the Morrigan, and after some initial training is tasked with finding an important manuscript and a device used to decipher it. Without giving too much away, Shay becomes disillusioned with some of the Brotherhood's tactics and turns against them, becoming one of the famed Templars instead.
Like Blag Flag, Assassin's Creed Rogue contains both a combination of sea navigation and land exploration. Sailing the seas and rivers around the East Coast and attacking ships is like playing a first person version of Sid Meier's Pirates. Ok, so it's actually third person, but you get the idea. The sailing mechanics are fairly simple but work quite well. Aiming at passing enemy ships whilst your ship dips below a wave can be problematic, but gives the game a more realistic feel. The Morrigan is quite a manoeuvrable ship and indeed faster than the Jackdaw from Black Flag, making it much easier to turn for a broadside volley.
Stealthy does it
But it is on land that most of the familiar Assassin's Creed stealthy action takes place. Missions involve the usual skills of climbing mountains and roofs and keeping out of sight wherever possible. Shay's movements will be familiar to those who have played the earlier titles, running along tree branches and leaps off roofs to make a stealthy kill. Local vegetation can also be used to hide in, as can the numerous hay stacks. All this hiding and sneaking around leads to one thing though, assassinations. Guards will often patrol around the intended target, mostly sticking to a particular path and often in pairs. In Rogue, Shay has a number of new weapons to help him complete his tasks. None is more important than the air rifle, a projectile firing gun that has silence as a special feature.
Ranged weapons such as the air rifle and grenade launcher come in handy to take out sentries from a distance, but getting up close and personal with guards and assassins is often required. Close combat involves the use of attacking and parrying moves similar to that of the Batman Arkham games. Timing comes into play as you counter enemy attacks before going in for the kill yourself. I did find myself sticking to the tried and true Assassin's Creed weapons and tactics, but also found the new air rifle with its range of projectiles quite enjoyable to use. Other skills such as Eagle vision enables Shay to highlight important items and prey.
Once turned rogue, the use of Eagle Vision is doubly important. Without it many of the Assassins are unnoticeable, as they do what your character would normally do as an Assassin. As a Templar, the Eagle Vision can be used to spy other assassins hidden in hay stacks and amongst the long undergrowth. It is definitely a feature that gives Rogue a touch of difference from other titles in the series, having to take on skilled assassins with all their knowledge of the craft.
Plenty to see and do, lots of exploration.
Often feels like simply an add-on to Black Flag, rather than its own game