Assassin’s Creed Rogue has been living under the shadow of Assassin’s Creed Unity since it was announced that both games would be sharing a release window. When both were moved to the very same day, faithful and eager new-gen fans of course opted for Unity. Sadly, that loyalty was rewarded by a broken and oddly dull entry. But now that we’ve had time to play through both games, it’s clear that Ubisoft has released a fantastic Assassin’s title this year, but one you’ll have to dust off the PS3 or 360 for. So then, here are seven reasons why Rogue has absolutely smashed Unity.
As in Black Flag, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue lets you set sail and take a break from all the climbing and stabbing. It’s as moreish an experience as ever and has greatly benefitted from the shift towards the frozen waters of North America and expanded arsenal options that make you more formidable than ever. Where is Unity’s escape from itself though? There’s simply nothing in comparison, ensuring you feel landlocked in every way possible.
Rogue’s world is split into three separate maps, which is a little annoying I’ll admit, especially when trying to get a handle on the collectibles, but its overall size is simply astounding. So much time has been dedicated to making environments explorable paradises too, even whole land masses that you won’t need to visit during any story levels. I lost count of the times I’d weigh anchor to grab a treasure chest from a beach only to be pulled into an expansive playground full of hidden totems, cave paintings, enemy camps and hunting activities. The locations themselves are richly varied too thanks to the game taking place in areas like the frozen areas of North America, New York and the warmer climes of the River Valley. Then there are the brief sojourns to Europe too.
Combat isn’t broken
You can happily get stuck into a brawl in Rogue without worrying about being cut down by five off-screen snipers in seconds. Hell, Cormac even has these fancy techniques called combo finishers that allow him to perform a chain of execution finishers, almost like it was a technique passed down from previous games. And yet Arno doesn’t seem to think this is a decent tactic. To be fair, the poor bastard can’t even whistle from cover.
Actually, the whole game is excellent from a technical stand point. NPCs don’t walk through you and talk over you during cutscenes. I never fell through the world. I didn’t get stuck on scenery like a gargoyle and Cormac doesn’t hop onto every table like he’s spotted another mouse on the floor.
In Unity, you’ll rarely hear any hint of a French accent, despite the Parisian setting. In fact, Yorkshire seems to be the main flavour of dialect. The Dingles thankfully haven’t made it across the pond though and you’ll hear voices suitably relevant to their origins. A simple thing to get right, but one of Unity’s more galling fuck ups.
Attempts new things
With some solid foundations laid down by Black Flag, you might expect Rogue to simply reuse the same material and play things safe, especially as we imagine most development funds were thrown at Unity rather than the Sofia-based studio. Keen to make the best game they can though, the studio has come up with a new twist for the story with Shey Cormac actually turning his back on the Assassin’s and going to work for the Templars, which creates some interesting story scenes and some of the canon implications are huge, ensuring the game’s place in the full legacy rather than that of a mere spin-off.
Some missions themselves see signs of innovation too, mainly because you’re at risk of the Assassin’s throughout. The sneaky sods will hide in bushes or in plain sight, ready to pounce, with only a mild audio cue warning you of their potential presence. Unless you happen to be using Eagle Vision. Side-missions involving protecting an unaware target from Assassin attacks are a neat turning of the tables too.
Rich in atmosphere
Paris is incredibly detailed and packed with huge numbers of people (incredibly annoying when running through the streets), but it all feels a bit soulless. Compare with the not too shabby New York in Rogue along with the quieter environments like the island forests or the Northern Lights over the iceberg ridden seas and Ubisoft Sofia’s world is just a nicer place to be. Add in those enchanting sea shanties sung by your ship’s crew and the hours behind the wheel of the Morrigan just melt away.
The Lisbon level
I’ll not spoil this one. But I’ve not seen anything this massive and involving since the Uncharted games and my jaw was just on the floor throughout this incredible action scene. I can’t think of a single comparable moment in Unity’s clumsy mess of climbing, dying, stabbing, dying, glitching, dying, crying and eBaying.
So yes, Assassin’s Creed Rogue is pretty damn good. Don’t let it slip you buy because of the damage Unity has done to the brand. We’d love to hear your thoughts on either game and does the London setting of next year’s game fill you with hope or are you just banging your head on the wall as Ubisoft overlook feudal Japan once again?