Skip to main content

Game Review: Assassin's Creed Rogue (PS3)

Assassin's Creed Rogue (AC Rogue) focuses on Shay Cormac, an Irish Assassin in the 18th century. This 2014 entry into the AC series boasts improved gameplay and controls, the primary reward being the ease and rewards of remaining undetected while completing missions. These improvements balance the weakness of the main character and the modern Templar antagonist. Overall, AC Rogue's technical achievements outweigh its writing deficiencies.

To the numbers!

Gameplay: 10/10
Glorious. Every familiar element has been refined: climbing is a joy, sailing is breathtaking, and earning money is a breeze. Combat controls, which have been my constant complaint about the series, are now responsive. The developers even removed the ability to holster four pistols at once, like in AC Black Flag, which I thought was fair since the four shots made things a bit too easy. All these elements combine to make Shay's journey challenging in the right ways (as opposed to because of glitches or shoddy controls). 

Shay operates in three areas: traversing the North Atlantic and River Valley requires his ship, the Morrigan, while New York is entirely land-based. Players who favor exploring over advancing the story earn the Fast Travel option to places visited, which becomes convenient later on. In all these places, there are treasures to loot, Viking swords to dig up, Templar artifacts to discover, hunting challenges to complete, and all sorts of other entertaining distractions. 

To earn additional money, Shay can collect Prosperity gems, renovate buildings, and conquer gang headquarters scattered throughout the map. Forts, taken initially by sea and then later on by infiltration, are economic zones that contribute to Shay's income. Cash is used to buy weapons, ammunition, and, if one wishes to abstain from personally killing animals, to purchase their skins to craft equipment or outfits.

Meanwhile, ship upgrades require materials such as metal, stone, wood, and cloth. These can be acquired by destroying or boarding enemy ships, looting warehouses, or stealing from supply camps. The naval campaign is also present in AC Rogue, just like in AC Black Flag, but this iteration is much more streamlined: campaigning just means going down the list (until you run into stronger ships, or the game tells you to stop and get back to the main mission). 

Since this is an AC game, a tiny part of play time is devoted to the current time period, where the player is a research analyst at Abstergo Entertainment, diving into Sample 17's genetic memories to recreate key points in Shay Cormac's life. The side quests here are simple and diverting, involving repairing computers via puzzle-solving, and finding company tablets lying around. Each discovery offers glimpses of Abstergo's/the Templars' more recent history and goals. 

Know thy enemy, et cetera. 

Sound: 9/10
The sailing sounds are top-notch, especially the waves when an iceberg gets destroyed. The effects team also did a terrific job with even the most mundane noises, like Shay's footsteps in different types of terrain or guns being reloaded.

A highlight of the game's sounds is the UTTERLY CREEPY stalker effects. In New York especially, the enemy has hidden agents waiting to kill Shay. Usually they're perched on a roof, hidden in haystacks or in sheds, or leaning nonchalantly against a building. When one is nearby, the screen goes blurry, and menacing whispers fill the speakers. At first I was so freaked out that I just ran the hell away, but then I girded my loins, reminded myself that I played Resident Evil (well, watched my brother play Resident Evil), and assassinated my stalkers before they could shank me.

The only thing keeping sound from getting a perfect score is...

Voice Acting: UGH
...Shay's voice. He sounds like he's gargling when he talks. And that's unfortunate, because he's the biggest talker, being the main character and all. His first mate, Christopher Gist, sounds like a self-important balloon. The modern Templar villain, Otto Berg, has a raspy Nazi thing going.

Fortunately, the Assassins sound good, especially younger Achilles, Liam, and Faith. My theory is that the modern Assassins infiltrated Abstergo Entertainment and cast excellent voice actors in the role of Assassins, so players will have aural confirmation of their goodness.

;)

Story/Characters: 6/10
The game tries valiantly to present Shay as a sympathetic rebel with compelling reasons for betraying the Assassins, but Shay's main motivation for his defection appears to be his personal dislike for a couple of Assassins. That, coupled with his severe deficiency in diplomacy, leads to essentially a bloodbath that goes poorly for his erstwhile comrades. The Assassins are presented as bad guys to match Shay's view of them, e.g. those in New York are gang members, but it's just not as convincing as Connor and Haytham's father-son heart-to-hearts. And this is because both Connor and Haytham are charismatic, convinced, and convincing. Shay, however, is a dork.

And in the end, [SPOILER!] the research analyst unspooling Shay's life is presented with a choice: join the Templars or refuse, and this latter choice is presented with a gun. It just highlights the Templar's unwillingness to trust individuals to make their own decisions; they believe they must impose order to save everyone. Ergo: they're still the bad guys, and Shay is still a dork.

Visuals: 10/10
No weaknesses noted.

Bonus Category: Glitch Count: 1
I once materialized inside a wall after taking over a fort. Had to reset the game. A micro-annoyance.

TL;DR: An enjoyable entry, thanks to excellent gameplay and controls, despite unsympathetic protagonist.

---

This post brought to you by Earth Overshoot Day! We're all DOOMED!!!

Popular posts from this blog

An International Women's Day Miracle!

Truly, International Women's Day is a special day. No, not because multitudes are out there rallying for our rights and giving voice to the powerless. It is because I won a gift card from a company raffle!


Let me explain why this counts as a minor miracle. You see, I never win anything. I answer every damned survey sent my way, participate in all the raffles, buy lottery tickets -- to no avail. This particular raffle occurred monthly, and I had been faithfully entering my name every month for two years, with no results. Finally, last month, I declared: "No more!" and unsubscribed from the mailing list -- but not before entering one final time, because why not.

Hah!

There's also some déjà vu at play here. You see, four years ago, I won a gift card from a company raffle. The one fracking time I won anything! I was elated! Shortly thereafter, also on International Women's Day, I was laid off from my job.

Sooooo...since the day's almost over, I guess I'm not…

Paint Nite!

Last night I joined the "Oops" Paint Nite event hosted by the Club Cafe in Back Bay. About 12+ people came to relax and have two artists guide them through painting this original work:


The point was not to slavishly duplicate "Oops" -- we were instructed to make it our own, to relax, and not to utter the words, "Mine sucks," "Can you do this for me?" or "I thought this was paint-by-numbers!"

Speaking of dashed hopes, I had assumed that wine was included. I had done something like this before, only it was in the morning and we all got mimosas. Not so here! While the artists were setting up, I schlepped over to the bar and was rewarded with a generous pour of Cabernet. Now I was ready.

The setup: Everyone got a 16" x 20" canvas, three paint brushes, and a palette (a paper plate) with red, yellow, blue, and white paint. One artist (Brian) had the microphone and would paint with us, while the other was the assistant (Kory) who wo…

Get Out (2017)

Get Out has a charismatic lead, a terrific soundtrack, and damn good cinematography. While it’s described as horror/comedy, it’s more disturbing/cringe-y than scary, and I mean that in a good way. This is an entertaining movie that’s also pretty effective as social commentary.

The film stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris, a photographer who’s about to spend the weekend at his girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parent’s house. Naturally, it’s in a secluded spot in the woods. When they get there, the awkwardness that might be expected from a first-time meeting gives way to a series of bizarre behaviors and interactions. While Chris initially takes it all in stride, it eventually becomes clear that there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes.

The acting and dialogue are highlights of the film, as is the camera work. In particular, Kaluuya’s eyebrows and head tilts are so expressive that the audience knows what’s going on in his head even as he politely brushes off eccentricities. A…