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ASSASSIN'S CREED ROGUE is a really good example of what is called a "sandbox" game. (A "sandbox game" is one that allows more freedom than any fixed-purpose action adventure.) It is the 8th installment in the Assassin's Creed series and is inspired by actual (almost) historical (in)accurate events as it follows the 7 Year War (which took place between 1754-1763 but mainly from 1756). Probably because of the seafaring and the combat between sailing ships ROGUE is seen as the sequel to Black Flag even though it was not the next game published. I missed out on Black Flag sadly, but ROGUE has given me the taste of the sea-based combat; the thrill of the chase, the cutting of the gib, the power of the cannons and it is really cool. The gameplay is somewhat similar to that in Black Flag so if you liked that style here is a good second helping of it. (I added this last bit after I finished my notes and looked on the net).

      

Training is necessary for you to learn the basics but once you have been put through your paces - firing, running, firing, jumping, firing, firing while running and jumping, sneaking and firing - you also learn about crafting, using the parts of any animal you kill for food. Once you get into the game though, like real life, all that you learnt in training camp goes out the window and you hurriedly push, pull and press every possible button and trigger as the action hots up.

It is 1752 as you (Shay Cormac) and your good friend Liam are amongst French Pirates many of whom have been captured and being held, tied-up, in various close by locations. You and Liam run, swing, jump, climb and sneak through treetops, branches, bushes, long grass, rivers and mountainous terrain as you kill the guards or chase them away (and then kill them) and rescue the prisoners.

          

Shay is put the through the hoops by everyone who gains any control or command of him (except you, you player) as he struggles to prove himself in every which-way possible. Fighting and killing eventually become trade for him and as he progresses in skill you get to be Captain of a gunship and one of the cleverest and sneakiest of spys and assassins. Achilles Davenport, a high rank in the Brotherhood of Assassins, takes Shay under his wing (sort of) and continually keeps him working. It is through this association that Shay gets his first command, the Morrigan (a recently captured ship)  and the order to locate a Templar cell that apparently has knowledge of the artifacts known as the Pieces of Eden which was previously owned by and stolen from the Brotherhood after an Earthquake in Haiti. The artifact is extremely powerful and shouldn't be in the wrong hands. As Shay searches for it he learns just how powerful, and possibly evil, it can be, and when he finally locates and obtains a piece of it, having had to kill a Templar Commander for whom he had unexpected respect, the artifacts power causes an Earthquake of dramatic proportions and the city is totally destroyed.

Shay is depressed that his actions have caused this and then his pain sinks lower as he learns that Davenport intends to obtain and use the other pieces of Eden in the same, if not more powerful, manner. This is when Shay realises that he has chosen the wrong path and stealing the Artifact decrypting paperwork he heads off to join the Templars.

             

Having had a good portion of the game learning your trade as a Rogue and assassin you now have to put all that behind you and learn new skills and take on new tasks and missions on your way to becoming a Templar. This will, naturally, put you in conflict with your old pals who will no longer be thinking of you as a good friend. You have turned against them (okay they did try to involve you in a plot to virtually destroy the world and they did try to kill you) and they see that as treacherous. As the player you also have to get your head around this change as your perspective is now totally different. It's not a new concept but it is clever and inspirational for a game of this magnitude, and what's more the change in commitment actually works.

There are so many good things about the Assassin's Creeds games and ROGUE in no way changes this fact, it actually enhances and expands upon it. There are numerous side-missions and excursions as well as a more than half-decent storyline running through the entire game and the action is always indepth yet not agonisingly over-long.and it is always exciting (and of course dangerous). The action flips between third-person on land and that which occurs on-ship which is basically loading, aiming and firing the cannons while steering through the almost always choppy waves attempting to dodge the cannons firing at you and bringing your own cannons to bear on your adversaries.

            

The game spends most of its time-frame in the late 1800's but there are occasions when it switches back to modern day, as in 2014, and the offices of a computer games company. In here you will find a number of Easter Eggs if you look hard enough as well as adverts and the like for FAR CRY 3 etc. You turn up at the game company offices having taken the place of the repair guy and you are basically left to your own devices to locate and mend the rogue computers. Eventually you will find the way to desynchronise back to the 18th Century and continue as the Templar.

From the couple of Assassin's Creed games that I have previously played and from what I have read and been told there is not a lot of difference in the gameplay in this game and the others. Apparently many of the characters are reused as are the locations, especially from Black Flag, and the wonderfully recreated 18th Century New York isn't used as much as it deserves. But that's what I have been told. Personally I found ROGUE to be a time-consuming (in the best possible way) entertainment that I was hard to be drawn away from. It is fun, mildly humourous in places, and often frustratingly edge-of-seat squeaky-bum exciting. Normally I am a bit cavalier with characters in games, knowing that if they die I just restart from the last saved point. But in ROGUE I did everything I could to keep Shay out of the way of danger, though in truth despite the game being infused with stealthy options this is almost impossible for the majority of the time. There is always action around every corner, high in every tree and riding on every wave. So what if the action is like that in another Assassin's Creed game, isn't it also very similar in every Lara Croft game, every Indiana Jones film (and game) and every James Bond game (and film) ?  Yes ROGUE is similar to Assassin's Creed but it isn't exactly the same and that's the difference between all games in this genre - they each take you on an adventure and then let you be the hero. Isn't that what we, the player, wants ?

I thoroughly enjoy playing ROGUE and with an open mind if you are an action adventure and/or Assassin's Creed fan you will enjoy it also.

 

    

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015