Re­visit the se­ries’ dark­est tale of be­trayal

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Vikki Blake

It's strange, go­ing back to other As­sas­sin's Creed games when we've just plun­dered pyra­mids and rubbed shoul­ders with Cleopa­tra in Ori­gins. Re­turn­ing to the older games af­ter the lat­est in­stal­ment – even one with boosted vi­su­als and new 4K tex­tures – only em­pha­sises the lack of va­ri­ety and frus­trat­ing me­chan­ics that plagued the se­ries... which makes this an odd time for a re­mas­ter, re­ally.

As­sas­sin’s Creed Rogue – Ubisoft’s fi­nal As­sas­sin-y love let­ter to the Xbox 360 – looks con­sid­er­ably pret­tier, es­pe­cially when you’re at sea and soak­ing up those stun­ning frozen vis­tas. But the nuts and bolts of it – the com­bat, the me­chan­ics, and, of course, Rogue's in­trigu­ing premise – re­main unchanged. So the ques­tion is: if you didn't pick this up when it was re­leased, why would you bother now?

Re­leased un­der the shadow of Unity – the first As­sas­sin's game to grace the Xbox One, and one stuffed with a steam­ing pile of bugs and glitches to boot – Rogue didn't gen­er­ate the col­umn inches (or memes) of its nextgen sib­ling. While it draws heav­ily on the style, mo­tifs and lo­ca­tions of both As­sas­sin's Creed III and Black

Flag, it’s Rogue’s unique story that shines strong­est, even when standing shoul­der to shoul­der against the notable en­tries of its pre­de­ces­sors.

The rogue con­cerned is Shay Patrick Cor­mac, an As­sas­sin turned Tem­plar forced to turn his back on the Broth­er­hood. And it’s fas­ci­nat­ing, play­ing an As­sas­sin’s game from the per­spec­tive of the Tem­plars, par­tic­u­larly when Shay adopts the im­pulse to erad­i­cate his ex-brethren, a jour­ney that takes him to an ar­ray of be­guil­ing lo­ca­tions dot­ted around the North At­lantic, in­clud­ing New York City.

Rogue one

Trou­ble is, as in­trigu­ing as the tale is, be­fore long you'll re­mem­ber what it is about AC games that some­times makes them so frus­trat­ing to play. While Rogue never looks bet­ter than when you’re at sea and lis­ten­ing to the crew croon their favourite shanties, by the time you hit land again, each en­counter is usu­ally a te­dious, clumsy af­fair, and the lim­i­ta­tions of old-school As­sas­sin’s com­bat come scream­ing back as soon as you stum­ble into your first fight. Ev­ery­thing you re­mem­ber is here – ea­gle­vi­sion, confessions, nau­ti­cal mis­sions and Ab­stergo’s present-day co­nun­drums, too – but all with­out the pol­ish of Ori­gins.

Shay's free-run­ning fre­quently be­comes free-fall­ing, your stealthy take­downs in­ter­rupted by Cor­mac’s

“The lim­i­ta­tions of As­sas­sin’s com­bat come scream­ing back”

in­ex­pli­ca­ble de­ci­sion to jump out of cover rather than silently creep for­ward, and plung­ing into the icy water – hith­erto a cun­ning way to evade pur­suit – is in­vari­ably a death sen­tence. Es­cape se­quences are plagued by glitchy graph­ics that see Cor­mac plum­met through the en­vi­ron­ment, only to be trapped in a house with no exit. Add in the con­fus­ing map sys­tem and a con­trol scheme with all the fi­nesse of a bro­ken shop­ping trol­ley, and it’s soon painfully ap­par­ent that Rogue’s story and boosted graph­ics sim­ply aren't strong enough to carry the bur­den of its oth­er­wise finick­ity game­play.

Rogue is a fas­ci­nat­ing in­stal­ment that of­fers an en­tirely new per­spec­tive on the As­sas­sins vs Tem­plar de­bate, com­plete with a cou­ple of new mis­sions de­vel­oped just for the Re­mas­ter. But to be hon­est, some things are best left in the past – and un­for­tu­nately, that in­cludes

Be­low Much of your time will be spent here, loot­ing ships, sink­ing en­emy ves­sels and singing along with the sea shanties.

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