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Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered (PS4) Review

April 3, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Assassin's Creed Rogue Remastered
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Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered (PS4) Review  

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On the whole, I have a fairly deep love of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I’m never going to dress up like Ezio, or 100% every game in the franchise, but of the….10 (main) AC games released, I’ve played 9 of them, and liked about 7 of them, give or take. AC3 and AC: Unity don’t count. So, I’m a fan of the franchise and can confidently say that the reason why I enjoy Rogue so much is how it subverts the usual franchise tropes and turns the entire thing on its head.

In AC: Rogue, you play as Shay Cormac, an Irish assassin in the new world of America. This game is a prequel to Assassin’s Creed 3, but a sequel to Assassin’s Creed 4, and at the end, partially sets up AC: Unity. The core story might seem a tad superfluous and un-needed, but largely gets by due to Shay’s actual story.

Shay starts off the game as a somewhat loyal Assassin, he questions the creed to an extent, but follows orders and has a friend who acts like an older brother who got him on the path to joining the Brotherhood in the first place. Then, some unfortunate stuff goes down within the Brotherhood, and Shay is left for himself. In his eyes, seeing the Brotherhood is now corrupt and dangerous, he decides to throw in with the Templars and do some Assassin hunting on his own.

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What I like about the story is that you can clearly see Shay’s point, to a degree, from start to finish. At the time, the Assassins were up to some stuff outside their control, and they had no idea what they were doing. I’m not saying Shay is right, especially when the story really culminates, but there is a very clear line within Shay’s character.

Because of this, this game really de-mystifies the entire “Brotherhood” concept, as a whole. It’s no longer the largely “good” organization that it is usually portrayed at, in these games. Instead, you see them from the other (evil) side, and you realize that both organizations, Assassins and Templars alike, are wrong in their approaches.

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When Assassin’s Creed Rogue first came out, it was largely seen as an expansion pack, or even just a reskin of Assassin’s Creed IV, and…yeah, that’s honestly correct. But, considering that AC4 is one of the best AC games, that’s not a bad thing.

AC: Rogue has the “traditional” combat and climbing systems, before Unity changed (and messed up) the climbing and before Origin changed (and messed up) the combat. For climbing, you hold R2 and press X, and Shay will dart up a building, if he’s able to. Pressing circle will allow him to drop down, but there is no dedicated “climb down” free-run button. This is good, because in the post-Unity games, characters could get confused on if you wanted to climb up or down, especially if there was an open window on a building.

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As for combat, it’s the usual, “counter one attack, kill that person and then go on a mass killing spree of enemy guards around you, occasionally countering, but doing one button kills”…and it feels great! The later AC games had more challenging combat, but it never felt fun. The counter/kill combo is perhaps easy, but it never gets old, and there are occasional enemies that are immune to it. You feel like a god as you build a corpse pile around Shay, and that’s exactly how it should be in an Assassin’s Creed game, even if you’re playing as a Templar.

The actual combat is…99% the same as in AC4. There are a few minor additions but nothing that is exactly needed. For example, Shay can use a grenade launcher that can fire lethal rounds, sleep rounds, or berserk rounds. You can do all this stuff with either the air rifle, or pistol, it’s just another method of dealing with foes.

Naval combat is largely the same way. You still have the three-tiered speed system, still want to hit the broadsides of ships, or use your mortar to deal long-distance damage. New to this game is a trail of fire you can lay down from the back of your ship (replacing the fire barrels), and a “Puckle gun”, that can shoot at ships from a slightly more closed in range. These improvements aren’t really needed, but they are fun to use.

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If there is one negative in the game, is that it really requires you to do naval combat to get materials to upgrade your ship, or buildings you encounter. You can thankfully just buy any crafting material to upgrade Shay himself, but for buildings/your ship, you’ll need some lumber, stone, cloth andother materials. You can’t buy these in stores, and the only real way to get more is to battle/take over other ships. Once in a while this is fine, but the game really requires you to do this later on, and it can become a drag.

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The present-day stuff is given the same treatment. It still takes place in Abstergo Entertainment, with a quick cameo by Melanie Lemay, while Violet and Otto are given bigger roles. You wander the environment in first person mode, occasionally finding data pads, or computers to hack, but that’s about it. It’s not the deepest part of the game, but considering how Unity, Syndicate and Origins have completely dropped the ball with this idea, it’s at least something.

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Speaking of balls, the hacking mini-game is different in Rogue, from AC 4. Instead of guiding a light along lines on a ball, like in AC4, you are now trying to angle rings of light around a ball to make sections of it light up. Two light rays can’t hit the same hit the same section, so you have to move the ring around, so it hits an un-lit part. There are special modifiers like refraction or splitters so you can bounce the beams of light around.

At its base core, Assassin’s Creed Rogue really is just a re-skin of Assassin’s Creed 4, but, like I said above, that’s fine. Those systems largely still work in today’s gaming climate, and this game offers a really nice alternative to the changes that Assassin’s Creed: Origins has wrought. If you like the more traditional Assassin’s Creed games, this is a completely easy pick-up.

What about those that are on the fence though? Why bother “remastering” Assassin’s Creed: Rogue in the first place? True, it does look slightly better on the PS4, even if I ran into some really odd graphical issues here and there, but what’s the point?

That’s actually easy to answer. Originally, both Rogue and AC: Unity launched on the same day (Nov. 11th 2014), Ubisoft put almost all their chips behind Unity, thinking it was going to be the break-out hit, as they built that game on the ground up as being on the (then) new consoles, while AC4 was a cross-over game. Frankly, AC Rogue was a bit of a stop-gap measure for people who still couldn’t afford a new console. And….the strategy completely fell apart. Rogue was (and still is) looked at as the superior game, while numerous graphical/gameplay issues hobbled Unity, it was built around a bad co-op system, and a lot of the design changes made to the game, actively made it worse. However, all the marketing push was behind Unity, so it was largely ignored by most people, and somewhat forgotten about. Well, until now that is.

8.0
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered might seem like a relic of a bygone era, but that era was literally only 4 years ago. The world of Assassin’s Creed has definitely changed, although I’m not sure if it’s been a completely positive one. If you want a more classic Assassin’s Creed, one that has a good story, a nice motivation for a main character, and wrist blades you can use at any time, then check out Assassin’s Creed Rogue.
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