I talked a lot of trash about Assassin's Creed: Unity this year. On release it was buggy and broken, sure, but it also just wasn't much fun. Protagonist Arno was just a bland retread of series-favorite Ezio, the story managed to make even the French Revolution feel sort of boring, the overhauled free-running was too sticky and cumbersome, and I just overall felt it lacked the panache of the previous year's Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
There was another Assassin's Creed game this year though — Assassin's Creed Rogue, originally released for last-gen consoles and then recently brought over to PC. Knowing how I felt about Unity, this should be a pretty good endorsement for Rogue:
Black Flag Pt. II
Assassin's Creed Rogue is the best Assassin's Creed game that you're probably never going to play.
This is basically the second time Ubisoft has done this. With the exception of the first game, Ubisoft seems to want to position the Assassin's Creed series as a chain of trilogies. We had the Assassin's Creed II/Brotherhood/Revelations arc, wherein the first game was good, the second was great, and then Revelations was basically an inessential coda for long-time fans to say farewell to Ezio.
Well Rogue is the Revelations of the Assassin's Creed III era. In other words, it takes the best parts of Assassin's Creed III (which isn't much) and mashes it up with the best parts of Black Flag. In other, other words, it's Black Flag 1.5.
And I loved Black Flag, so that's fine with me.
The story takes place during the Seven Years War/French and Indian War, which spanned from 1754-1763. That puts Rogue right between Black Flag's piracy and ACIII's American Revolution. Rogue takes advantage of this by pulling in characters from both of the previous games, giving some closure to Black Flag characters like Adewale and some backstory to ACIII characters like Achilles and Haytham Kenway.
It's a fascinating structure, although it's hampered by the fact that...well, Assassin's Creed III wasn't that good. It's somewhat hard to care about the backstory of characters you didn't necessarily care about to begin with.
Still, it's oddly heartwarming to see some familiar faces in a series that seems content with ditching its entire cast every year. Over the course of the game you're hit with cameo after cameo from an extensive B-tier cast that plays foil to the new protagonist, Shay Patrick Cormac.
I don't know why Cormac's story was wasted on Rogue. Here's a guy who was brought up in the Assassins, turned traitor, and went to work for the Templars killing off his old friends. That's a hell of a set-up, shedding more light on the relationship between the two factions than possibly any game in the series thus far and providing all sorts of opportunities for moral ambiguity. It's certainly more interesting than Unity's story.
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