Assassin’s Creed Rogue Review: A Must Play

Assassin's Creed Rogue Story

This post will contain spoilers for Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Unity, III, etc.

Assassins’ Creed Rogue launched the exact same day as Assassin’s Creed Unity, received absolutely no press, and launched on “last-gen” consoles. Rogue’s fate was sealed before it even launched, and for whatever reason fell by the wayside as a game I had not even heard of — even as a major fan of the franchise — until just a few months ago. I’m glad I played because Rogue is easily one of the best in the entire series.

A Return to Great Storytelling

You’ll recall from my Unity review that I felt like Ubisoft abandoned the fantastic (and horrifically complex) story they’ve been telling for so many years. Rogue doesn’t suffer from these issues. In fact, Rogue not only bridges entire series into a complete package that actually makes sense — it actually brings clarity to Unity’s story!

You play as Shay Patrick Cormac, a novice to the Assassin order. After the Assassins keep making terrible decisions regarding the pieces of Eden and implementing an end justifies the means approach, Shay decides he has had enough and tries to put a stop to the needless bloodshed. He goes against the Assassins and ends up unknowingly joining the Templars as he seeks to help the British colonies defend themselves against the French. Ultimately he realizes he has more in common with the Templars, joins their ranks, and becomes instrumental in obliterating the Assassin Order in the colonies. [Read more…]

Remembering Satoru Iwata

Mario mourns Satoru Iwata

We were deeply saddened to hear the news that Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, passed away yesterday. It is only fitting that we remember him by sharing what we loved about his contributions to the gaming industry.

“In our minds, the Nintendo difference has always made up our foundations. The first is innovation. Our goal is always to do something different, something no one has thought of before. In truth, some of our inventions aren’t better than others, but we never stop trying to innovate. Mr. Yamauchi always tells me we should achieve something that brings fresh, surprise, and joy…I like that.”
-Iwata, E3 2001 (Before becoming President)

“Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone!”
-Iwata

iwata-sanSatoru Iwata was responsible for more gaming memories, specifically in our younger years, than any other single individual or even group of individuals combined. Under his leadership, Nintendo released the GameCube, DS, Wii, 3DS, and Wii U. The DS was a huge and monumental release for Nintendo, cementing its place probably forever with enough cash reserves to make mistakes and pick itself back up again.

The first quote above foreshadows inevitable failure. No one is perfect, and when you strive to create something new and fresh all the time you will eventually land yourself with a flop, or in the case of Nintendo a struggling system or two. When systems in the past (and present) struggled for Nintendo, Iwata cut his own salary in half rather than see the company’s employees be let go. He took responsibility for “failure” and did not let executive decisions fall upon the shoulders of the company’s workforce.  Iwata didn’t bow to the pressures for Nintendo to join the ranks of free-to-play or to change its practices or abandon its principles to simply align with common times.

“I do not like to use the term ‘Free-to-play.’ I have come to realize that there is a degree of insincerity to consumers with this terminology, since so-called ‘Free-to-play’ should be referred to more accurately as ‘Free-to-start.'”
-Iwata, Time Magazine 2015

Iwata-san was the mind behind the regularly-released Nintendo Direct “live”-streaming events where Nintendo would regularly discuss what was happening and coming up in the near future. These Nintendo Direct mini-conferences replaced Nintendo’s larger conference showings at E3, proving that a major company or publisher needn’t bring a huge production value show to a stage in order to reach its fans.

Mr. Iwata was also largely responsible for Nintendo’s push toward first-party titles. In a sea of awful and truly lacking (in quality and number) third-party releases, Nintendo developed and innovated more on first-party titles than any of its competitors to ensure that not only their brands were kept alive but the players had something to enjoy.

We sincerely hope that the next President of Nintendo will hold true to Satoru Iwata’s principles and philosophies. They were not always a guaranteed success, but they meant fun, fresh, innovative ideas for a consumer-first company.

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”
-Iwata

Assassin’s Creed Unity Review

Assassin's Creed Unity

My original plan was to forgo an Assassin’s Creed Unity review, but after finally completing the game I feel like I need to write up some of my thoughts.

My wife was a major contributing factor to my enjoyment of Assassins’ Creed Unity because, for the first time ever, she sat next to me for every single minute of gampeplay. Although she’ll play the modest card and deny it, she’s fluent in French and an encyclopedia of French history. Throughout my play-through I would turn to her with guidance with what the heck is going on in this thing called the French Revolution. Having been to France and loving the city of Paris, she was a great tour guide helping me figure out puzzles and helping me to understand the nonsensical mumblings of the French language.

Story

Assassin’s Creed is one of my favorite gaming franchises because I love how Ubisoft plays with the facts of history to twist our world into one big shadow game of Templars vs. Assassins. Unity does not disappoint in terms of history — especially if you’re into the French history like my wife — but doesn’t keep up with previous AC titles’ ability to create a story bigger than life.

Almost all (like 99%) of the “real life” story has been cut out of the game, leaving the player in control of Arno Dorian. The actual story of Arno is rather dull. He’s the son of an assassin who is killed within the first minutes of the game leaving him to be adopted by a prominent Templar family. Revenge drives Arno’s decisions through life as does his love for the daughter of the man who adopted him.

The player is (ready for this?) only known as “the player” of Helix, a game by Abstergo (Templars in modern day) once again using genetic memories for entertainment and their nefarious purposes. (Obtaining artifacts and pieces of Eden, etc.) Your gameplay feed is hijacked by Assassin’s and you’re asked to join the order as an initiate. It’s actually weaker and even less cool than I’ve made it sound here.

One of the more intriguing sides of the story in Unity is how the Templars and Assassins were trying to broker piece, and how such an act caused rifts within both organizations. How that plays out drives a great deal of story. [Read more…]

Conglomo-catch-up-blog

Welcome back! The holiday weekend is coming to a close, and that means it’s back to games and back to blogging. I think now is a good time to give you guys a conglomoblog with details on what I’ve been up to and where I see things going in the second half of 2015.

Right now there just isn’t a log going on in the MMO sphere. MMOs really are my bread and butter, but over the last two years I have really embraced other avenues of gaming. I’m hoping to see 2016 be a year for MMOs, but that’s a discussion we’ll likely have 6 months from now. In terms of MMOs, you know I am still playing on the EQ progression server and dabbling in ESOTU.

What I’m playing

My two main go-tos right now are Assassin’s Creed Unity and Splatoon. My wife and I are playing Unity together and easily over 25 hours in with a bit more to go. She loves the history, and I love the gameplay of being an assassin in a semi-open-world. I have to say though that Unity is lacking compared to Black Flag and the Ezio series. I just bought Assassin’s Creed Rogue on Amazon (on sale for $9.99 on PS3); Rogue came out at the same time as Unity but received no marketing at all and is actually heralded by many reviewers as one of the best in the entire series. I will definitely write up my thoughts on Rogue upon playing.

Splatoon remains some of the best fun I’ve had on a console. Nintendo has provided continual FREE updates to the game since launch including more weapons, maps, game modes, and special events. The word I would use to best describe Splatoon isn’t a technical term like “FPS” or “Shooter” — Splatoon is a playful game. I hope the attention Nintendo has given to the online game here translates into their new online service coming soon.

Where I want to go…

I’ve decided just now as I write this to hold off on telling you in this post my plans. I’m going to turn that into a post for tomorrow morning. I’ll just throw a teaser in here and say it’s something I have wanted to do for some time but haven’t had the time or the freedom to do so until now.

 

Back in Tamriel for ESOTU

Elder Scrolls Online has had a relaunch of sorts with its latest version now available on the PS4 and Xbox One: Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. Graev and I both enlisted quite some time ago in ZOS’ offer to buy the new edition for only $20 rather than a full price console release. While both of us also took advantage of the free character copy to bring over our banks full of crafting mats, we decided to completely reroll characters in the Daggerfall Covenant.

I went with a Templar using a 2-hander and a Bow (designed to just be lots of DPS and AOE DPS), and Graev is playing as a Sorcerer user of sorts who summons and heals. So far we are enjoying ourselves by taking things slow and doing most of the quests. Neither of us love quest grinding, and that is purely what ESO is all about, but the combat is fun and we like to slaughter monsters.

So what’s different in ESOTU? Umm… I guess not much. The use of a controller makes playing way more fun, if that counts? Really though, apparently the game hasn’t received THAT much worth writing home about. Stealing has been added, and if you are caught with contraband you will be fined by guards. The thieves guild and Dark Brotherhood, however, are not yet in the game. The running conjecture at this point is DLC now that ESO is B2P supported by a cash shop. End-game has received some decent work with veteran ranks, though, if that’s your thing.

One interesting addition is voice chat. Area voice is on automatically and is opt-out rather than opt-in. This has proven to be quite embarrassing for some. The quality is decent, and having such a feature makes grouping easy since the console comes with a mic for all to use.

Performance on the consoles is not without its downsides. The graphics are great on PS4, but both Graev and I run into hitching at the exact same spots in-town leading me to believe it is game/server-side. The hitching is most common in cities at this point. Unfortunately, playing on PS4 means having a subscription to Playstation Plus which is like $50 a year or something. Not huge, but worth noting.

Worth buying? Here’s my honest stance right now. ESOTU is ESO, and it’s worth getting if you liked the PC version enough to say, “Hey, I’d like to sit on my couch and play it on my console.”  The game has life I honestly haven’t seen since week 1 of ESO launch. Both Graev and I both liked ESO but couldn’t fall in love with the game. ESOTU is a great chance for us to dungeon crawl, slay baddies, and play in a world we enjoy. Will we be playing long? We’ll make our way to 50 at our own pace and play until we get bored.

Edits after reading some comments: If you treat ESOTU like a MMO then you’re screwed. It’ll be 1-2 monther at most. Treat it like a multiplayer RPG with a semi-decent story and better than average combat. Play with a friend or two. Go at it alone, or quest grind your way to the top, and you’ll be bored in a week. It’s a console game for me. I would not even consider playing it again on PC or treating it like I do an MMO. ESO on PC was the beta for the console version, where it clearly belongs.

[yasr_overall_rating]