Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Video Game Review: Assassins Creed: Rogue (2014)

Been a while since I waxed lyrical about a "current" video game (yes, yes I know, the game came out in November 2014, but for me, that's "current") and being as I managed to pick up a second hand copy of this game el cheapo, I thought it was a groovy idea to give it a go.

So yeah, the 7th entry of the Assassins Creed saga (well, on the 360 anyway, not counting the next gen stuff) takes place BEFORE the events of Assassins Creed 3, AFTER some of the events of Assassins Creed 4 and BEFORE some of the events of Assassins Creed 4 and even manages to cram in some events in "present day"....(!).

*ahem*, anyway, the main story takes place during the years 1752 to 1760, roughly covering the period in and around the Seven Years War , a war in which the major powers of Europe decided to have a little argument over which parts of Northern America belonged to who (nobody really won this war, a series of treaties were signed, gentleman's agreements were put into place, and a lot of the outcome of the war was binned a short time later )

SOoooooooo, as per the usual premise of these games, you, as the protagonist in the present day, use the Animus device to "relive" the memories of the past through the eyes of someone who lived in it, via accessing genetic memory, which, since AC4, is now no longer limited to your own personal genetic history.

As the same un-named employee of Abstergo Entertainment (A wholly owned subsidiary of Abstergo Industries) that you played in AC4, you are tasked with reliving the memories of Shay Patrick Cormac, an American born man of Irish descent who lived and took part in the events of the Seven Years war. You are tasked with doing this as the Abstergo Entertainment building appears to have come under attack by a computer virus, released when Cormacs memories were accessed, and as such, they need to be reconstructed in order to find the cause of the cyber attack...apparently.

Shay begins his life as a junior member of the Assassins order, under the tutelage of Achilles Davenport, however pretty soon, Shays rebellious streak and strong sense of moral righteousness lead him to becoming disillusioned with the Assassins cause, particularly so when a mission he is given ends with thousands of innocent people getting killed due to poor planning and a poor understanding of the forces that are being dealt with.

Its at this point the game really begins, as Shay sets out to right wrongs in his own way, which ends up having him fall in on the side of the Freemasons..sorry, the Illuminati...sorry, the Templars, and become an important figure in the North American cell of that organisation.

Yeah so, once again, AC:Rogue is a "journey of discovery" type game, same as all the others, offering a nice alternate history slant on recorded events, I like this, its one of the reasons that I keep playing the AC games and regard them highly.
As has become the norm for the AC games now, Shay must spend a lot of time gathering resources in order to renovate run down areas of his home town of New York, and these resources are gathered by taking to the high seas with his tricked out ship, The Morrigan, and "liberating" them from hostile powers, such as the French, the Dutch and the odd Assassin controlled ship.

Play takes place over a large map, covering the areas in and around the Northern Atlantic, including some parts of the Canadian coastline and the Arctic. Being as this area is generally very cold and icy, your ship is eventually fitted with an icebreaker prow and swimming in the freezing waters is generally discouraged, however theres plenty to do while your sailing around, as icebergs can be rammed to collect goodies, enemy ships can be attacked and boarded for loot, and unmapped areas can be explored for further loot and goodies, then of course there are the various hunting and fishing challenges you can partake in for bonuses and crafting items.

And here's where I get to my first complaint..... the storyline of AC:Rogue is fairly short, and the developers have placed a much, much greater emphasis on the "side" activities.
Yep, there are now 200 animus fragments to collect, as well as 50 Templar/Treasure maps, viking swords, native artifacts, cave paintings, "prosperity" markers and blueprints which are required to fully upgrade both your ship and your personal equipment, oh, also, there are a selection of sea shanties for you to collect for your crew to sing.
Then of course there's "legendary" sea battles to take part in, fortresses to capture, warehouses to loot, assassin hunting missions and other various puzzles and object gathering tasks that you need to do in order to fully complete the game.


My second complaint is that the game seems to be somewhat glitchy from time to time, thus far, I have found the following:-

  1. Sometimes when you have sailed somewhere, if you get killed, you and your ship respawn in the middle of the land area where you died. While initially, this is a little funny as your ship majestically sails over land, it soon becomes annoying when you want to get back on the water and continue whatever it was you were doing, but the game now sees "water" as a barrier and "land" as the sea, resulting in your ship sinking as it tries to "sail" back to water and then respawns on land, rinse and repeat, ad nauseum. In order to escape this, I found that getting off the ship and then swimming or taking a lake crossing to another town causes a save point to trigger, which then deposits your ship in that areas dock and allows play to continue unhindered. This is a pain in the posterior and shouldn't happen..Grr!
  2. For some unknown reason, if you are using a wireless controller with the vibrate function turned on, every time an alert is triggered your Xbox instructs your controller to turn off. At first everyone who has reported this problem assumed it was something to do with the controllers battery being low, but no, its not, its down to some really weird foible of the programming which equates the "vibrate" command with "power off controller"... The problem is easily remedied by turning off the vibrate function, but unless you know this, it leads to being killed a lot as you get swarmed by a load of assholes while you furiously hit the "Big X" to switch your controller back on, only for it to turn off again as soon as one of said assholes hits you....Grrrrr!
  3. As with all of the AC games, from time to time, Shay sometimes cannot climb or step over things when you really need him to, such as when chasing sea shanties or chasing after someone...its fucking annoying then when you have to hang around and go back once the thing has reset...Grr!, also, sometimes instead of jumping/climbing over a wall, you'll squat down on it Spiderman style and stick there until you release the sticks/buttons. This usually happens at the worst possible times...double Grrr!
The games combat system has also been changed slightly, with more emphasis placed on "counter" attacking enemies using your sword and racking up long strings of "combo kills", in a similar manner to the "Arkham" batman games, and also the tactical use of Shays new grenade launcher weapon. Less emphasis is now placed on the "sneaky sneaky" aspect that was the main aim of the Altair/Ezio era AC games.

So, do I like AC: Rogue?, well, yes and no.

YES because its still a good enough game, despite its various shortcomings, short campaign missions and over reliance on "collectables".

NO because of the glitches, and the feeling that the game is just a reskinned version of AC4.

If you've never played an AC game before, Rogue is not a good starting place, as you have to be somewhat familiar with the AC games as a whole to understand what you're supposed to be doing and why.

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