Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: The Gamer's Gazette - Issue X

  1. #1
    Gen. Chris's Avatar BatHex
    Moderation Overseer Content Director Citizen

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Gotham
    Posts
    9,779
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default The Gamer's Gazette - Issue X





    Hello Total War Center. I hope you are having a wonderful week. The Gamer's Gazette has been around for over two years now, and I am proud to bring you the tenth issue of the publication. It has been an exciting few months, and we are proud to bring you reviews of many of the most recent releases, perhaps to give every one of you an idea for what to buy yourself or your loved ones for the end of year festivities. First up are two reviews by the amazing Mhaedros, featuring a review of the newest entry into the Wolfenstein franchise, as well as Creative Assembly's Alien Isolation. Secondly, IlluminatiRex brings us two reviews, one for the shooter Sniper Elite III as well as Ubisoft's Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Ubisoft also brought us two new entries into the Assassin's Creed franchise as well, with both reviews for Assassin's Creed Unity and Assassin's Creed Rogue being covered by Gen. Chris.

    From all of us at the Gamer's Gazette, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year. 2014 has come and gone, but here is to a brand new year. Stay posted for the second annual Game of the Year competition, hosted by Total War Center's own Gamer's Gazette.

    Gamer's Gazette Deputy Editor
    Gen. Chris



    Contents






    Alien Isolation
    Alien Isolation Review
    Alien Isolation

    Alien Isolation

    Alien Isolation is a first person horror survival game developed by the Creative Assembly and published by Sega. It is set in the Alien universe between the first and the second installments of the film franchise. It tells the story of Amanda Ripley, daughter of the infamous Ellen Ripley, the protagonist of the films, as she sets out to uncover the fate of her vanished mother.

    Amanda and a small crew are sent to Servastapol, a space station owned by a company called Seegson, that has retrieved the black box of the spaceship in which Ellen Ripley was a crewmember. However, the crew arrive to find a station in turmoil and terror, filled with death and destruction, while those still alive slowly go insane in a constant struggle for survival. And as the cheap Seegson androids turn against their former human masters, an even greater threat stalks the corridors of Servastapol, an alien creature that..you know what, if you’re remotely interested in this game, watch the Alien movie first, and then decide if you still want to play it. And even if you are not interested in the game, watch the film anyway because it’s a great piece of cinema history.

    Anyway, a Xenomorph (I’ll just refer to it as the Creature, as that is what the game tends to do) is stalking the space station, killing the people in it one by one. Amanda finds herself stuck in it together with two of the crew from the Torrens, the ship in which she came to Servastapol. Now the story is a bit of an oddity in my opinion, because, to me anyway, it’s feels fairly unimportant. It gives you an objective and a reason to complete said objective, but all it’s really there for is to give the player a reason to do all kinds of missions and that’s fine, to me anyway. The game never feels too scripted and most of what happens, happens naturally within the playground of whichever area Amanda is in.



    The motion tracker helps you keep track of enemies; but get too close and they will hear it

    Playing the game, you will spend most of your time crouching, praying to any deity of your choice the Creature won’t spot you and run you through with his claws. This is partly because of a very punishing savegame system; the game will save at certain cutscenes, between missions, but other than that it is up to the player to find special savegame stations around the area Amanda is in. These can be very sparse though and often difficult to find (especially with the Creature stalking around the area, meaning you can’t always access all rooms), and at times the player can lose up to half an hour of gameplay, probably more if you have gone a long time without saving. Despite this, the game does reward exploration. Being a skilled engineer, Amanda can craft all kinds of gadgets such as molotovs, noisemakers and medkits, but she also has access to a small arsenal of weapons, including lethal and nonlethal, and a hacking tool that has you complete simple puzzles constantly hoping the Creature won’t get you from behind while you’re doing it.


    Isolation includes a competent crafting system

    Alien games have in the past often been easy (Colonial Marines being the big, deranged elephant in the room), but make no mistake. Alien Isolation does all it can to make sure you are never bored and you can never get through an area too easily.

    Apart from the obvious antagonist there are also other threats in Servastapol Station. Survivors who trust no one and will shoot you at sight, but also the Seegson synthetics. In the movies androids looked and sounded human, but these are just cheap, vaguely human shapes with blue plastic covering their heads and with glowing red eyes. These nice looking fellows are called Working Joes and are best avoided altogether as they are almost impossible to kill in melee and will take a lot of hits from your revolver before shutting down. But you can never be certain if a survivor or Working Joe is hostile towards you. Sometimes humans will just tell you to leave or be killed and sometimes they will shoot and ask questions later. Other times they won’t mind your presence at all, but these instances are uncommon and you can feel almost cheated after having wasted flares and noisemakers on people who are friendly towards you.


    The Working Joe, a perfect example on why glowing eyes is not a good idea

    Now the game does give you multiple options when you encounter enemies. You can try to sneak past them, but enemies will spot you rather quickly if you don’t distract them with noisemakers or flares. Noisemakers and flares can backfire on you though, especially if your throw fails because of a bad angle and it lands right beside you leading everyone to your position. Then there are the guns. You can use your revolver to kill enemies but more often than not it will lead the Creature to drop down from the vents and kill everything, which by the way is a valid tactic for getting past groups of survivors. Throw a noisemaker in the middle of them and watch them die.


    The Creature will flee from fire, but will never give up its hunt


    Graphically the game is really good looking and the design is directly from the original Alien film. It looks exactly like what people in the 70s and 80s thought looked futuristic, with computers that look like they are 30 years old and a general atmosphere that genuinely screams “Alien” it is almost scary. It also runs very smoothly on my GTX 660 ti, at a constant 60 FPS on ultra settings which is nice in a day and age when PC optimisation unfrotunately is low on the to do list for many companies.

    Sound quality is quite amazing, and often you can keep track of the Creature solely based on what kind of sounds you can hear. Sometimes it feels like the game is giving you too obvious hints at where the alien is, with very loud banging noises when it walks around in corridors and a very distinct sound for when it jumps down from, and enters a vent, but ultimately I think this is good, because otherwise keeping track of it could get too difficult without getting spotted. The music does a great job of getting you tense and terrified and sound effects often use sounds from the film, which is a nice touch. Even many of the original voice actors did voices for their characters, though most of these are only seen in the Crew Expendable and Last Survivor DLCs, which tell the story the last half of the movie.


    When you finally reach a save station, it feels as if you have accomplished something great

    Ultimately I think Alien Isolation is a great game, but it does suffer from it’s length. It offers a real terror but the terror never really changes from mission to mission and at times it feels like it could do with some variation, or even being a shorter game. Sparse save opportunities can annoy, especially at certain missions where the Creature constantly is at your tail, but personally I never found the game boring, only slightly drawn out at times. I’d recommend this game to anyone who has watched and liked Alien the film, and to anyone who enjoys games where stealth is in focus. You don’t even have to like horror games, this was actually the very first one I ever played and I love it.

    Mhaedros

    Wolfenstein New Order
    Wolfenstein New Order
    Wolfenstein New Order

    Wolfenstein The New Order

    Wolfenstein the New Order, the latest installment in the Wolfenstein franchise, or rather a reboot of it, is a first person shooter released in 2014 developed by Machine Games and published by Bethesda. It puts you in the boots of BJ Blazkowicz (never again shall I attempt to spell this name), a nazi obliterating killing machine in the middle of World War 2, 1946. Notice something wrong there? Well, in this alternate universe the nazi warmachine was not in fact stopped and thanks to their superior technology they are on the brink of victory. The Allies have launched one last attempt to destroy the head of the nazi warmachine, general Deathshead, once and for all, but obviously that doesn’t turn out too well and BJ is put in a coma for 14 years.

    Even writing this it feels like the game ought to be a mindless shooter with a naive story and obnoxiously obvious good and bad guys, and yet...The New Order has a curious absurdity that makes it much deeper than you could ever think it could be. When BJ wakes up to find a nazi ruled world, to find his beloved USA has surrendered to the Germans, there is real emotion there. The game has an almost Max Payne-esque feeling of bitterness and despair at times, and then it goes straight back to shooting nazis’ heads off with a shotgun in each hand. On the one hand it shows what a grey and horrid world the nazis would have created and on the other it lets you wreak havoc and really enjoy yourself while you paint it red. And in the midst of it all is a really creative and even funny dialogue that’s often going through BJ’s head. He embodies the stereotypical muscular killing machine with a gritty past and a bloody future and yet he is so much more than the average protagonist in a game. He longs for love and a barbecue with his family, but he knows that will never be for him, it will never be his job to be a father or a husband. His calling in life is shootin’, stabbin’ stranglin’ nazis.


    BJ is a sad character, but determined

    The story is that of a man driven by everything that has gone wrong in the world, all the kids who have died fighting the nazi warmachine and most of all out of his need for revenge on the man who made the nazi victory possible, general Deathshead. From the 14 years in a coma the story moves to a prison breakout, to helping the resistance and finding old friends and even to the moon. It does a great job of finding new exciting locations to explore and fight in, and it does a great job of introducing characters and making you love them. What comes to mind is the story of Klaus and Max Hass, a nazi turned resistance fighter and a huge man with the mind of a little boy. Klaus lost his family and took Max under his wing, because what else could he do with a mentally retarded person in nazi Germany? The story of Max Hass is truly the most emotional a game has ever made me feel and that is a great accomplishment from a game like The New Order.


    Shooting a gun in The New Order always feels really good, and when you see a nazi blow to bits after you put a bullet in him is always satisfying. It makes a point in not making the gunplay too difficult to be enjoyable and most enemies will be killed with a shot to the head or a few to the body. Where it does fail is in enemy variety. There are sadly very few versions of the normal nazi grunt, from what I can think of there are four or five of them, as well as an armoured version and the big bloody robots of which there are a few. But in the middle of battle it doesn’t matter how what you are killing looks like, as long as it is an enjoyable process, and it really is. There is little more satisfying than blowing your way through a bunch of soldiers dual wielding shotguns. The gunplay is almost childish in its execution but it works oh so well.

    Gun variety is also very pleasing, as every gun has a second ability, at least after the prologue chapter. The assault rifle seconds as a rocket launcher, the sniper rifle seconds as a laser cannon (yay alternate reality!) and the Laserkraftwerk (a laser cannon) can be used to cut out pieces of metal, say fences. Other than these there is a pistol, a shotgun, knives and grenades.

    Unlike so many other first person shooters, Wolfenstein only partially regenerates your health after you have been hurt, and it relies on the player finding food and health-kits as the health only will regenerate to the closest 20 health points. The player starts with 100 health points, but can overcharge the health by consuming said health-kits and food. The health will slowly drain away until it is back at the maximum level or under it, but this can still be useful if you want to play very offensively, or you are heavily outnumbered.




    Yay, dual wielding shotguns!

    Something that did surprise me in The New Order was the stealth, because it’s surprisingly good. There are one or two sections in which stealth is the only option, but other than that the game never holds your hand or tells you how to go about an objective. Being successful in your stealthing is another discussion entirely, but if you’re used to first person stealth games such as Dishonored or Thief you probably won’t have a problem with it. Something that did annoy me was that there were times where I was not sure whether an enemy had spotted me or not, there is no indicator other than gunfire and shouting, which in the stealth sections don’t really exist, because neither you or the guards are allowed guns.

    All in all it’s a very enjoyable game, with fairly large areas to explore, lots and lots of hidden loot and multiple ways to go about your killing spree, whether you want to go on a rampage, sneakily kill the enemies one by one or a combination of the two. Remember to explore, because there are literally hundreds of collectibles, which can seem overwhelming, but it’s never forced on you and if you chose to collect, say all the enigma codes you will unlock new game modes to make any replays more interesting. Plus, who doesn’t like hunting nazi gold.

    A sort of combination between a perk and an achievement system is also present, giving you improvements when perks are achieved, such as the throw knife ability you get after stabbing an enemy commander. However, some of these perks requirements feel very unnatural to obtain, like the Vampire perk you get after stabbing five enemies while overcharged on health, and while others are quite reasonable, it just feels some of them were quite lazy. However, the four perk trees, Stealth, Assault, Demolition and Tactical mean that every playthrough can go a bit differently, even if it’s far from impossible achieving all perks in a single game.




    Make no mistake, it is a gory game

    A certain choice in the beginning of the game will slightly alter the rest of it, basically creating two different timelines, so that alone creates replay value, but even without it I personally would have played through it more than once. Currently I’m on my third playthrough after playing through both the timelines on medium, now I am doing an ûber difficulty game and it feels just as fun as the first time I played it.


    Deathshead is a really good antagonist

    The graphics can at times be a bit underwhelming with poor textures and some poor optimisation, but from a distance it looks quite beautiful. Of course the beauty is undermined by the colour scheme, which essentially consists of grey and brown, but it makes sense in a nazi ruled world to have boring colours I guess. And as a contrast, the HQ of the resistance is more cheerfully coloured. Something I have noticed is that some of the larger areas seems to have a frequent texture popping which is really disappointing. Admittedly I’m not running the newest graphics card, but this really affects immersion, especially as the chapter in which I noticed it the most was a very emotional one.


    The music feels so right, I don’t have a single bad thing to say about it. Every track fits perfectly into the scenes they are used in and even when you listen to them on their own they have an amazing sense of dread and despair, or alternatively hope if you listen to one of the more cheerful tracks. As well as the background music, a number of parodies of famous 60’s songs were made as they would have been in this alternate reality, such as Wilbert Eckhart und seine Volksmusik Stars with House of the Rising Stars.


    At occasion BJ is hunted by an invincible Panzerhund

    I heartily recommend playing this game. If you really dislike first person shooters it might be difficult to get into, and some might say it doesn’t hold your hand enough (at least from what I’ve read on the Steam forums) but personally this game was an amazing experience and as of yet my personal game of the year. If you have tried playing this game, and you’re not a completionist I suggest turning the difficulty down a bit though, just to make the gunplay more fun and let you run around more without fear of getting killed constantly.

    Mhaedros

    Sniper Elite III
    Sniper Elite III
    Sniper Elite III


    Sniper Elite 3 is a World War Two, third-person shooter developed by Rebellion, in which you are a sniper. Unlike the previous two iterations of the series, it takes place in Northern Africa, something which is rare even among other World War Two games.

    You play as Karl Fairburne, an OSS Agent for the United States, who is sent to North Africa to find out what General Vahlen of the German Army is up to, and put whatever it is to an end. It turns out that the General is developing a super-tank called the “Ratte”, which he hopes to use to win the war in North Africa and eventually Europe. Karl travels to various areas across North Africa, a medieval era Fortress being one of my favorites. Karl, of course is not without friends. During his investigation into General Vahlen, he befriends a member of British Intelligence, Brauer, whom was being held by the Germans, when Karl was tasked with rescuing him. Brauer of course, is later killed in an encounter with a Tiger Tank. Karl then has to finish his mission, not just for the Allied War effort, but to avenge the death of his friend. In the end he finds the production facility for the Ratte tank, destroys it, and kills General Vahlen (Whom I might add is just as stereotypical as the other parts of the story. At one point he even starts monologuing to Karl with a line such as “We are the same, we are both soldiers”).


    We are both the same, we are both soldiers.

    The story is clichéd as can be, but the real meat of the game is with its sniping. As its namesake suggests, Karl is a Sniper. Have a variety of rifles at your disposal that unlock as you level up. Each of these rifles have their own strengths and weakness. You can also find upgrade parts on dead bodies that can be used to increase or decrease certain stats such as “Bullet Velocity” or “Scope Wobble”. Cover is context sensitive. Instead of tapping the ‘Q’ button as in V2 to take cover, you simply crouch near a piece of cover with your weapon out. That puts you in a ‘cover’ mode and you are able to peek out to fire your weapon, or even blind fire your weapon.
    When you do decide to look down the scope of your weapon, you have to take into account your heart rate. If you had just run to your position, it is best to wait for your heart rate to go down. Otherwise, you would have a hard time lining up your shots. When your heart rate is low enough, you can decide to hold your breath to steady your shot even further. If you are on the “Sniper Elite” difficulty or lower, it will show a small reticle that indicates where your bullet will land. It is useful if you have trouble gauging distances in game at first, but can quickly make the game too easy.

    A feature from the second game in the series, Sniper Elite V2, the X-Ray cam makes an even gorier return. When you fire your Rifle at an enemy, your bullet is tracked in slow-motion on its path to who you were aiming at. In the previous game you only saw bones, and in case of pelvic shots a soldier’s testicles. Now you see muscles, arteries, veins, and organs. This portion of the game is quite gory, and in some cases may be off-putting to some. However, it is an interesting feature that shows a side to being shot that man games do not show at all. This feature is also quite buggy. Sometimes bullets aren’t even shown entering a body. Other times, they are shown entering the body but doing no damage. It’s sad to see such an interesting piece of the game be riddled with so many bugs.


    An example of the new gore system.

    What does not make any sense however, is that this gore is not displayed at all outside of the X-Ray cam. The soldiers you kill are simply marked in some blood, not even a bullet hole present. It is no different in the case of explosions, they are simply covered in blood. Except the blood spray isn’t even realistic on them in those cases, it just looks plain bad. It feels quite artificial, and seems like a detail that the developers would have put in, since so much emphasis is otherwise placed upon the gore.

    That is the crux of the game however, that it is an improvement over Sniper Elite V2. The levels have been opened up, the graphics improved, the AI isn’t scripted now (but it isn’t very good). Overall it is a fair game. However, due to these additions and improvements, at times it feels like it has an identity crisis; were they trying for a stealth game, or trying for a sniping game? Although the levels have been opened up, allowing more freedom in your choices, you are generally sniping people from roughly around 50 to 100 meters. And the stealth mechanics, a welcome addition, don’t help make the game any more about sniping. The levels seemed far more geared to taking out your enemies stealthily, and not sniping them. Whether it be from a silenced pistol shot, a sound masked rifle shot, or from a stealth takedown from behind, I found myself doing less sniping, and more crouching around and walking. One of the most exciting sequences in the game is during a mission where you have to infiltrate a German held fortress and save a Brauer. The end of that level features you sitting up in the top of the fortress sniping all those that stand in Brauer's way as he makes a mad dash towards freedom. It was fun, exhilarating, and made me feel like a sniper. Much of the game does not do that. Instead, I feel more like James Bond.

    Aside from that, my biggest complaint would have to be the Artificial Intelligence, which is to say it’s not very intelligent. Since Sniper Elite 3 is less corridor shooting, the AI isn’t scripted in the sense that if you move somewhere, 5 enemies will show up and take cover in specific places, and move up towards you in sequence. The AI will react accordingly to what you do. If you make a rifle shot, without a sound mask, enemies in the area will duck and take cover. Fire again, they’ll start firing back. Fire a third time and they’ll have located you. However, if you make your way away from there, the guards will stop caring and go back to their normal routine. The discovery of a dead guard elicits the same response. If a dead guard is discovered, wouldn’t the entire camp, or fortress, or area be alerted? Especially if that guard died of a mysterious bullet hole in the back of his head, or strange explosion that just so happened to take out the local artillery position and all soldiers in the vicinity. It feels too much like a game, and much of the time took me out of the experience. When you are spotted by the AI, it feels like they’re cheating. They hit you easily, almost without effort. Many times it can be difficult to escape their clutches once you’ve been discovered and they have fired a few bullets at you.
    There is an exploit to that though, one that I found myself abusing far too much. When I was sneaking around, sometimes I’d get too close to a guard and they would go straight from their cautious mode, to their alerted mode. They would stand there for roughly five seconds before firing at me, as they looked around screaming. If you kill them with a silenced pistol shot before they can shoot, no other guards are alerted. It almost felt like cheating, and I feel that the AI should have reacted much better, and much quicker.

    The game features fantastic visuals.

    Of course, there is a multiplayer mode. It features different game modes, but my favorite is the Team Deathmatch flavored one. Instead of your traditional Team Deathmatch, you have people sniping from different positions, hoping to catch a glimpse of movement or the glint of a scope. If you’re spotted, there is a good chance your dead. If you don’t move after firing a few rounds don’t expect to survive for long. Laying traps was essential if you did not want to be snuck up from behind. The little I did play of this mode was engaging, tense, and I found it to be a much better challenge than fighting the AI. When I played Multiplayer, I was playing against people that were higher ranked than me. Because of this, they had access to better weapons and traps. The upgrades do stop at about Level 10, so it was not too much of a gap, but in some cases it was just enough to outdo me. However, those that have the DLC weapons ruled the battlefield. In general, I have nothing against developers and publishers who sell DLC for their games. I just prefer if the DLC isn’t blatantly ripped from the game pre-release. Sniper Elite III suffers from this in some regard. It does have some good DLC, the Kill Hitler and Save Churchill missions (Save Churchill is in three parts, Kill Hitler is one). However, the weapon DLC is downright shameful. Extra weapons are sold in “Weapon Packs”. At the time of writing, there are eight released weapon packs. Some feature a Rifle, Sidearm, and Pistol. Others are just Rifles. That is a total of 21 DLC weapons. That is more weapons than the base game has. In addition to that there was a multiplayer Skin Pack released the same day that the base game was. Rebellion’s DLC policy is terrible, and is very off-putting to anyone looking to buy the game.


    Overall, I did have fun with it. Even with the clichéd story, too much DLC that seems like it was ripped from the base game, and shameful AI, there is some enjoyment to be had under that skin. I wouldn’t purchase this at full price, I would wait for a sale, anywhere from 50% to 100% off. It’s not a bad game by any means, it just has some issues that prevent it from being really good. I give it a 7/10. It has the ingredients to make a fantastic game, it just misses the mark on some of those targets.




    IlluminatiRex

    Valiant Hearts: The Great War
    Valiant Hearts: The Great War
    Valiant Hearts: The Great War



    Listen to that as you read my review!

    Today being the 100th anniversary of the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which sparked the start of World War One, it seemed fitting to post this today.

    Starting in August 1914, World War One, began with enthusiastic spirits, and the thought of the entire war being over by Christmas. For some, the war was over by then, due either because of injury or death. However, for the majority the war was not over by the Christmas of 1914. The war dragged on for four brutal years. Through mud, and trenches men fought, lived, and died. Yet, within the media, it seems to be vastly underrepresented.


    Emile charging at the Marne.

    World War One is a conflict that is severely underrepresented in all forms of media, but for videogames, it is in an interesting position. Many cry that it would be too difficult to make a game about World War One ‘not boring’, or ‘not too difficult’. Ubisoft announced Valiant Hearts: The Great War quite suddenly late last year. A new IP from a AAA Publisher and Developer is always news. Valiant Hearts is not only a new IP, but is a 2D Sidescrolling Adventure Puzzle game about World War One. Valiant Hearts is the answer to the cries of “Not too hard” and “Too Boring”, as it is neither of those things. It encompasses great art direction, style, music, story, character, and atmosphere. It is rare to see a new game like this from a AAA publisher, and I am quite shocked, and pleased.

    If you are buying from Steam, as with other Ubisoft titles, it does require Ubisoft’s U-Play DRM service. In addition, for some, the length may seem short (7-8 hours for my first playthrough). However, for its price of $15 USD, the length is just right. Ubisoft was smart in pricing Valiant Hearts.

    Valiant Hearts features four Protagonists, each with their own personalities and skills. Anna, Emile, Karl, and Freddie. Anna is a Belgian woman who was studying to become a Veterinarian in Paris before the war broke out. When the Taxi to the Marne began, she drove to the front and started helping the wounded soldiers of both sides. In game, Anna is able to heal wounded soldiers with a minigame that is reminiscent of Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

    Anna on her way to help a wounded French soldier




    Emile was conscripted into the French army at the start of the war. He fought at the Marne, and was wounded and captured by the Germans. As a POW he was made to be a cook, and Emile has the ability to dig in certain areas. When general Mobilization by the French started, Karl (Who is Emile’s Son In-Law) was deported from his home in St. Mihiel and sent back to Germany. There, he was made to join the German army. Karl also has a wife, and young son whom reside at St. Mihiel for the duration of the war.


    Freddie was an American living in Paris at the start of the war. Driven by grief and a lust for revenge, he joined the French army. Freddie has a pair of Wire Cutters and is able to cut through barbed wire whenever he pleases. As well, his strength allows him to destroy any obstacles in his path in one hit. These four people are brought together by a German medical dog, whom saves Emilie in early 1915.


    Freddie's Introduction
    The game is described as an interactive Comic-Book, and that is something I can certainly agree upon. Many sections of the game feature comic book panels showing something else going on as you are solving a puzzle or moving through the lines. The art itself, although it looks like it could be aimed at children, lends itself to a mature story about humanity and the true cost of war. It is a unique, fresh style that is surprising coming from a AAA publisher.


    Freddie helping the Canadians at Vimy


    However, in some cases the Comicbook style is a detractor. For the first 3 chapters, there is a comic book style villain, a stereotypical German who is named Baron von Dorf, and he mainly pertains to Freddie. There is a boss battle within each of these chapters, and each of them feels forced and not extremely satisfying. They are extremely out of place, in what is otherwise a poignant story that does not paint one side as the villain. As well, it breaks the puzzle/adventure flow that the game has. However, the epilogue to that portion of the story is a fitting conclusion for Freddie and his nemesis. As well, Anna’s healing rhythm minigame can get tedious quickly. Had it been used less, or in each case shorter overall it would have been better.


    The villainous Baron von Dorf and a henchman

    In spite of those issues, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a good game. It does not hold any punches in showing the senselessness and horror of the First World War. My favorite level is towards the end, at Chemin des Dames, during the Nivelle Offensive. With an officer to his back, threatening to shoot if he starts retreating, Emile is forced to charge forward and watch his fellow soldier be slaughtered. It is moments such as those that truly make Valiant Hearts a beautiful, poignant puzzle game.

    Karl being held at a POW camp.
    The story revolves around Emile and Freddie trying to find the Baron’s regiment. Freddie because he wants revenge, and Emile because it is the regiment that his son in law (Karl) is a member of. Along the way, they meet their faithful canine companion, and Anna. Anna was looking for her father, who was kidnapped by Baron von Dorf to create weapons of war. As they travel along the Western Front, they participate in many famous battles and exploits of the war.
    The Dog is also used as a good puzzle solving tool. He is able to go through spaces too small for the humans, and is able to retrieve objects for the characters, and is also capable of pulling levers. He helps tie the stories of Emile, Karl, Anna, and Freddie together well. He provides something that they can all communicate with, and loves them no matter who they fight for, or what their beliefs are. It is also an interesting addition to the game, due to the prevalence of dogs that were used for war purposes during World War One, one of the most famous being “Sergeant Stubby”, who was a member of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th (Yankee) Division. Showing that the war effected not only humans, but our closest animal friends, helps show the destructive power of The First World War, and war in general.


    Sergeant Stubby

    A detriment to some would be the historical accuracy in some places. Although the game is littered with facts (Hit tab in any mission, and historical facts relating to that mission will be shown, alongside a colorized picture relating to that fact. In addition to that, you can find a variety of objects in the game, and it will have a fact about that object and World War One, but more on that later). There are levers, anachronistic clothing, and objects abound (looking at that giant Chlorine Gas machine early on at Ypres), and to some that would be something to be put off by. Now, I am someone who is obsessed with World War One, and everything to do with it. However, in this case those sorts of things only enhanced my enjoyment of the game because it complements the comicbook style well, and helps keep the story and gameplay flowing at a good pace. An example of that would relate the story, as it would go nowhere if our protagonists were not allowed to freely move about the front.



    George spotting for artillery, before Radios on Airplanes...
    I am actually a fan of the charge sequences, in which your character is running to the right side of the screen, and you must dodge shells and machine gun fire. It helps break up the game some, and to keep you focused. In addition to those sections, I also enjoyed the vehicle sections. There are two types of those: Tank and Taxi. The Taxi sections have you driving towards the bottom of the screen automatically, and you must maneuver the car around obstacles and enemies. They also seem rhythmic as they are timed with the song that is playing. My favorite of those is when Anna is initially driving her Taxi away from Paris, to the “Can-Can” song. The Tank Sections have you moving left and right, firing at obstacles and enemies. These are also a nice change of pace, and keep things interesting.

    Anna driving in the taxi to the Marne
    Something mentioned earlier was the objects that you can collect in the game. Some have noted that this seems out of place in a game like this, but personally I feel that the objects that you can find, and where you find them make sense. A lost Dogtag or Helmet dropped in the mud, a child’s gasmask in a cabinet in a bombed out building. When you pick up these objects you are treated to a factoid about them, and what their context within the conflict was. It is an interesting way to shed some light on the war, and the objects that people used every day during the conflict.


    An example of fact
    In the end, I really enjoyed my time with Valiant Hearts: The Great War. It is a remarkable game from a AAA publisher, and although it does have some minor issues, they are dwarfed by the good things about it. The “Come Back” trailer for the game said this: “Lives shattered, love lost. One day a farmer, the next a soldier. Sent far from home, torn from their loved ones. These unexpected heroes are swept away into the Great War that rages on, always hungry for more. War makes men mad, but Humanity can shine, even from the darkest of hours. And those Valiant Hearts stand up fighting for love, friendship, and honor. To the point of sacrificing everything, even their own life. Some made it, some did not. These are their stories”. That is what the game is about, although names may fade, deeds and sacrifices never will. So those with Valiant Hearts, fear not, as your sacrifices are not forgotten.



    I give Valiant Hearts a solid 9/10.

    Illuminati Rex

    Assassin's Creed Unity
    Assassin's Creed Unity
    Assassin's Creed Unity

    Assassin's Creed Unity (2014)
    "It is sometimes hard to remember how easy life was, before the world changed. Now people are starving in the streets, and those with the will to fight back are imprisoned, or worse. The life I had is gone, the world I knew with it. Amongst the violence, amongst the chaos, I will find justice no matter the cost."


    Arno Dorian was simply the adopted son of a French nobleman when his entire world was overturned. Having already lost his own father at the age of eight to an unknown killer, Arno loses his adoptive father, François de la Serre, to yet another assassination, the man dying in Arno’s arms. Arno, the only person seen at the scene, is quickly imprisoned and noticed by a fellow prisoner, Pierre Bellec. Realizing that Arno is the biological son of Charles Dorian, a noted Assassin, Bellec and Arno escape the prison and Bellec convinces Arno the join the Assassin Brotherhood. Realizing that this is an opportunity to discover the mystery behind the deaths of both his fathers, Arno accepts the offer. But in the midst of the growing unrest towards the monarchy in Paris, Arno must work with his adoptive sister and lover, Elise de la Serre and a noted Templar, to unravel the truth about the ever growing mystery and survive the French Revolution.



    In the present, an unknown person is contacted by the Assassin Brotherhood to investigate the memories of Arno Dorian. Using a new iteration of the Animus known as the Helix, the individual must help the Assassins discover the mysteries of the French Revolution to understand what the modern day Templars are planning.

    --

    Assassin’s Creed Unity represents a dramatic step forward in world of Assassin’s Creed. Unity brings the story to the cities of Paris and Versailles, on the eve of the French Revolution. Utilizing an updated version of the engine that powered Assassin’s Creed III-Rogue and the capabilities of the eight generation of consoles as well as PC’s, revolutionary Paris truly feels like a revolutionary achievement. Paris and Versailles each have the atmosphere of a real life city. Paris itself is divided into many districts, each having their own flavor as thousands of citizens, rich and poor, flow through the streets. Conversations and arguments can be heard as the people interact with each other on levels never seen before, and the growing dissent of the people represented in the game by large crowds of protesters really make the city feel as if it is on the verge of rebellion. In addition to this, Unity boasts a large underground network under Paris that the player can traverse, as well as a large percentage of buildings (reported as high as 25%) that can be entered and explored. Graphically, Unity is easily one of the finest examples of a “next generation” experience that I have yet to encounter. The detail present in all aspects of the game is rather extraordinary, even on the Playstation 4. Traversing Paris in all of its next gen glory is an amazing experience, and it is clear that the developers really put a lot of heart and soul into making the game look absolutely amazing.



    Coming to the game is some rather jarring changes in the movement and combat that Arno participates in. Parkour has been changed to offer more streamlined controls to ensure that when you want Arno to go in a direction, he will go in that direction. This is accomplished with the rather intuitive “parkour up/down” controls to ensure he does not fall or jump unless that is what you desire. This change in movement as well as how he moves is a little strange compared to its predecessors and certainly not without its flaws. But practice certainly does make perfect, and with further refinement this change can become a great improvement in the future of the franchise.



    Related to the changes in parkour is the changes in assassinations and combat. For assassinations, the new animations are surprisingly fluid and quite awesome to see happen, though Ubisoft has removed the ability to have two hidden blades, which means the hidden blade is no longer used for combat. No longer can the player rely on simply slaughtering anyone in the way. Counter-kills are now gone, replaced with a system for more akin to the non-lethal counters of the very first game, which must be followed up with subsequent strikes. It is still easy to counter, but no longer does it just become a counter-kill fest. The enemies are more difficult, represented by a difficulty system, and are far more intelligent than before. Even the lowest of guards are capable of blocking Arno’s attacks early in the game, and situations where Arno is surrounded by more than a handful of guards, especially if there are those using their pistols or rifles, often means a quick death for the Assassin. Combat is simply more difficult than before, which is a welcome change for some while others miss the absolute slaughters that were possible in previous games. Because of this, stealth is very much encouraged, while open combat is highly discouraged. There are some frustrating additions or changes, as well. Medicine, which can be used to restore synchronization, has returned to the game. Personally I never liked medicine as it did not make sense within the context of the Animus, so I am not overly pleased with its return. Ammunition for certain things such as pistols or the much hyped phantom blade is also relatively scarce, and expensive to acquire by purchasing early in the game. I can understand having it blades easy to acquire would lead to it being overused, but I feel a balance needed to be achieved and it simply wasn’t. Arno can also only care small amounts of ammunition early in the game, leading to frustrating situations where it is difficult to complete a mission as you have already exhausted your supply and looting the enemies is not helping. Additionally firearms can only stun assassination targets; to kill them after that still requires Arno to get close and finish the person. Overall it is a step in the right direction, I feel, but could use some further refinement.

    Also coming to the game is a rather large degree of customization possible with Arno. Virtually everything about the Assassin is customizable. Weapons range from small, one handed swords and maces to large spears and axes to muskets and rifles. Armor is also highly customizable in the game, with many different possibilities with regards to hoods, chest armor, and even legs. Weapons and armor upgrades may be purchased, or acquired from missions and side activities, which encourages the player to do everything within the game to open up possibilities. Individual pieces of armor and weapons may also be upgraded with Creed points, which are obtained through a variety of means and by no means hard to come by in the game. Color palettes are also available, to flavor your Arno in whichever way you prefer.The player may also use synch points gained from missions to give Arno new skills such as mastery over a certain fighting style, the ability to use certain tools and tactics, or the ability to take more damage. It is an interesting concept, and lends the player the ability to, in a way, make their Assassin a part of different “classes”. It can be frustrating, however, as synch points appear to be limited unless you choose to do the co-op missions, which means skills must be chosen carefully. It also makes the game a bit too much role playing for my own tastes, but it is still a departure that some may welcome.



    The missions have also changed somewhat, though of course maintaining the same basic premise. Tailing missions have pretty much been eliminated, much to the joy of everyone, and the structure of missions, especially assassination missions, require there to be creativity and problem solving from the player. As the player can no longer rush headlong into battle and kill the target, the player must plan ahead and actually think about which route should be taken. This is especially true of missions involving the interiors of buildings. With multiple entrances into buildings it is prudent to use the skills acquired to your best advantages. If there is a short cut to a target that requires good lockpicking, that might be an effective entrance for someone with that skill upgraded, for example. This method of planning really evokes memories of the very first Assassin’s Creed game, where planning and execution was far more important than combat skills. Indeed, some missions effectively force the player to be stealthy, or at the very least have an effective and speedy route in and out planned. Otherwise it is incredibly easy to be overwhelmed. It is an interesting change, one the forces the player to rely on their senses rather than their combat skills. Aiding this is an improved Eagle Vision that allows Arno to see things not only in front of him but above and below, highlighting entrances and exits as well as the enemies. Overall it is an interesting change, and with some fine tweaking could see the franchise return to the roots that many have been craving: a stealth game, not a third person combat game.


    Traditional multiplayer has been eliminated and replaced with co-op missions. Without going into too much detail the missions are designed to need the assistance of additional players, with missions requiring between two to four people. The missions are certainly fun, and add significantly to the struggles of the French Revolution more so than the struggles of the Assassins and Templars. Whether through the use of a pre-set team or just joining other players randomly, the co-op offers new challenges and rewards for the players. It is especially noteworthy in that this is where the ways in which the players have upgraded their respective Arno can have an effect. Players more adapted to the stealth or ranged “classes” will operate in the missions much different than those who have adopted primarily combat skills and equipment. It is a bit different than traditional multiplayer, and is a welcome change of pace. Connectivity issues have been problematic, of course, but overall the experience has been refreshing and rewarding. The missions are not necessary towards advancing the main story, nor should they ever be, but it would be unwise to never play them at all.


    Ubisoft managed to surprise me with a brand new gameplay element in the form of Rift Missions. Throughout the campaign there are several instances where the Helix becomes unstable and the simulation begins to fall apart, forcing the player to jump into the memories of other Assassins while taking the Arno avatar with him. I will not state the exact time periods these missions take place in but they are kind of interesting albeit unfortunately brief. The missions offer exciting opportunities to play in eras the franchise has not taken place in, though still in the city of Paris, and each offer their own unique challenges. The unfortunate thing about the missions is that they do not offer much in the overall story, and therefore seem like a wasted opportunity. However, if this is Ubisoft’s attempts to gauge our reactions to new opportunities in gameplay in future games, it should be interesting to see what will be in store in the future. The Rifts are also present in several side activities, where the player visits time periods to collect data as well as assist modern Assassins that have become stuck in the Helix program.



    One thing that does kind of stick out in Unity is that despite the quality of the side activities available, they do not seem to offer much variety wise out of the previous games. The two main side activities besides collecting random things is the Paris Stories and the Murder Mysteries. These two activities are fun, and the difficulties between them vary considerably. The mysteries are rather self explanatory but the Paris Stories are interesting in they allow further exploration of some of the numerous side characters such as Napoleon and Marquis de Sade that are only present briefly in the main story. This is a good thing, however it is somewhat disappointing that one must play these side activities to have further interaction with the favorite historical characters. Other side activities include the social club missions, which are given from cafes that Arno can renovate, including his starting one, the Cafe Theatre. These are good money making opportunities as they along with further renovations lead to increased income which can be used to further buy necessary equipment. Another, more minor side activity is the crowd events. These are typically small altercations between the revolutionaries or criminals and the local populace, and are quite fun to do while running from place to place. They can also be very rewarding in the long run. Overall the side activities have been good, though like everything else could use some tweaking.



    While much of what has been said certainly paints the picture of a good quality game, there are flaws that simply cannot be ignored. One glaringly obvious one is that the story simply is not a very interesting one. Arno and much of the rest of the characters are certainly good, but their motivations and actions simply does not come together in a cohesive narrative. It is disappointing, to say the least, as a game set in the French Revolution surely should have had an intrinsic and entertaining story. There simply is none to be found. And the French Revolution, seemingly advertised as a major backdrop of the game, has little effect on the actual story. Furthermore, the “unity” between the Assassins and Templars just is not very convincing, unfortunately. Even worse, the modern story, the element of the series that ties it all together, is almost completely absent. You are simply a normal person that has been contacted by the Assassins to relive the memories of Arno through the Helix. That is pretty much it. It is unfortunate because it is clear that the events of Black Flag, both in the present and past, were meant to serve as an effective transition into a direction in the overall story of the franchise. Black Flag accomplished this transition rather well now that I understand the changing direction of the series, but Unity simply failed to deliver on a continuation. It explains some things, to be sure, but the modern story is simply absent and the story of Arno is just an inadequate one. While it is clear that many people did not like the modern stories in previous games, its absence is very much an overreaction on Ubisoft’s part. Additionally, Arno and his story often feels a little to similar to the story of Ezio; Arno even heavily resembles what a model of a next-gen Ezio would look like. Perhaps this was an attempt by Ubisoft to bring the love of Ezio back to the franchise after the relative disappointment with Connor and Edward as characters, though I do not think it was necessary to make Arno like Ezio in order for us as players to like him.



    There have also been many criticisms against the large degree of microtransactions and especially the flaws with Uplay for PC members, though that issue is not a problem for consoles. The microtransactions are certainly worrisome but none of them really can have a major effect except for perhaps co-op teams having an advantage if they have rich members. The game’s link to the Initiates system can also be a major problem to those that have never used it before. Additionally there have been performance issues and glitches on all platforms. On my playthrough on PS4 I have fortunately encountered very few issues outside of some framerate drops in certain missions and areas in the game, notably during large crowds. Typically the largest issue that I had was a lot of NPC and building pop in but after a while its effect is somewhat diminished as the beauty of the world is still staggering. Perhaps Ubisoft could have toned down the graphical improvements to maybe reduce these performance issues, but, for me at least, the experience of seeing the world was worth the minor issues I encountered.


    Despite its issues, the game maintains many positive attributes. As stated, the world is simply beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful experience yet created by Ubisoft. The attention to detail is extraordinary with every single object and building looking incredible, and the atmosphere is fantastic. It truly has the look and feel of a next gen game, and represents a very positive step forward for the game. The combat and movement has received a major mechanical upgrade as well, offering new challenges as well as opportunities for the gameplay. Stealth, noticeably absent as a requirement in the games since Assassin’s Creed II, is now highly encouraged, and missions and side activities often require a large amount of intuition and strategy to carry out effectively. The absence of competition multiplayer is also a nice change, as I have personally never enjoyed it. The customization and skill tree are also welcome to many people though I personally feel it makes the game too much of an RPG, and it is tough to take Arno seriously when some of the outfits look rather ridiculous. The large degree of weapons is also nice, and do offer players who want different playing experiences many different opportunities. Finally, the audio and visuals are really fantastic, with the motion capture and voice acting making the characters seem exceptionally lifelike. The soundtrack is also excellent as well, consisting of two volumes and is quite long. With everything considered, Unity is easily one of the most cinematic experiences a video game can provide.



    Overall, is the game perfect, and representative of the hopes and dreams of fans? Not quite. Its issues have been a problem since launch. The story is bland and unfortunately forgettable, in both the modern day and the events of the Revolution. But the game is still a quality experience, and one in which is easy to get lost in its beauty. I would like to see this game as a reboot of sorts to the franchise; a new story direction, new gameplay mechanics, and overall a different feel. By that token there are bound to be hiccups in any new system, and Assassin’s Creed is no exception. The first game was flawed yet still highly praised; I do not believe Unity should be seen as that much different. It is a new era in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and one in which I am excited to see improve over the coming years. The game is flawed, certainly, but there was hardly and instance where I was not having fun.

    7.5/10





    This is some gameplay footage I took showing a bit of Paris, the freerunning, and the combat. Hope you enjoy this demonstration.





    Assassin's Creed Rogue
    Assassin's Creed Rogue
    Assassin's Creed Rogue

    Assassin's Creed Rogue (2014)
    "History may brand me traitor, rebel, or renegade. But in the end, it doesn't matter how history remembers me. What matters, is that I followed my own creed."


    In the past, the Templars have managed to acquire two items related to the First Civilization. A young Assassin named Shay Patrick Cormac aids his friend Liam as well as the Brotherhood by retrieving these artifacts as well as assassinating several targets along the way. One, a mysterious box, reveals the location of many temples scattered around the world. Himself a promising albeit aloof recruit, Shay eagerly takes up the task offered by his Mentor Achilles Davenport of traveling to the one of the nearest locations, Lisbon. Traveling there and finding the temple, Shay accidentally triggers a devastating earthquake, barely escaping the destruction as the city is leveled around him. Realizing that the same had happened years earlier in Haiti under similar circumstances, Shay vows to never something like it happen again. With the assassins unwilling to listen to his please, Shay is forced to betray Liam, Achilles, and the rest of the Assassins. Fulfilling his promise of wishing to never see what happened in Lisbon and Haiti happen again, Shay begins a purge of the Assassin Order, under the auspices of his new affiliation; The Templar Order.


    In the present day, an employee of Abstergo Entertainment is researching the memories of a man named Shay Cormac, when they inadvertently activate a virus within the building's servers. With the Animus servers mostly down, the employee must work to help restore them by reliving the memories of Cormac using the only machine, now named Helix, still operating. But as they begin to research, the find themselves unwittingly drawn deeper into a conflict that has spanned thousands of years.


    --

    Assassin’s Creed Rogue brings the game series one final time to North America, in the middle of the Seven Years War. Like its predecessor Black Flag, Rogue brings to the game many locations that can be visited by Shay during his journey from young Assassin to hardened Master Templar. Like the large traversable Caribbean map, Rogue brings not one but two large naval maps, featuring the North Atlantic and many of its islands and other features, as well as the generic River Valley, comprising many settlements, towns, and several large islands that dot its landscape. Within both of these maps are bountiful locations to explore, from frozen shipwrecks in the far reaches of the North Atlantic to frontier battlefields and forts in the River Valley. One notable example of this is the location known as the Old Growth Forest, part of the River Valley. This island all on its own is roughly one mile long and one mile wide at its widest, with plenty to do to keep the player occupied for at least an hour all on its own. Really, the River Valley is similar to the Frontier from Assassin’s Creed III, in that it serves as a generic location with many places from different locations in the colonies. Both of these maps are incredibly interesting, and really lend much to a game set during the Seven Years War where the conflict spanned much of North America. Finally there is the city of New York, making a return from Assassin’s Creed III, albeit differing greatly from that game. These three locations are an entertaining and imaginative backdrop for the story that unfolds as you play as Shay.



    The missions and story of Shay is, without question, unlike anything ever done in the Assassin’s Creed games, and without a doubt is a refreshing change of pace for the franchise. Shay’s struggle with his morals, which begin to conflict with Assassin ideals as early as the first sequence, really stand out as a highlight of the early part of the game, as does his slow transformation from Assassin to Templar. But this does not mean that Shay becomes a villain over the course of the game. It simply is not as black and white as it has been in the past. Shay, like some of the more recent Templars seen in Haytham Kenway, Laureano Torres, and the Company Man all stand in marked contrast with the power hungry Templars of the days of Ezio, and Shay is no exception. Shay is clearly a man of principles, and as his story unfolds it actually reveals a deeply complicated set of convictions. It is really unfortunate that this story is relatively so short. At only six sequences the game on the outside looks roughly half the length of others, but in reality most of the missions are much longer than its counterparts in other games. And these missions often span more than just one location, and often require Shay to take to both sea and land exploration in order to fulfill the objectives. The reason why I say that the game is relatively so short is because the game spans roughly fourteen hours, which is not necessarily short but after playing the game you will find yourself craving more. It simply is an incredible story of transformation, and one full of emotion that not only comes with the story of Shay, but also because of how it links to Assassin’s Creed III, Black Flag, Freedom Cry, Unity, and even a little of Liberation. It serves as a fantastic bridge to the other games, and connects to them more naturally than one might expect. In addition to Shay, the game also includes a continuation of the modern day story established in Black Flag, with a research analyst at Abstergo Entertainment researching Shay’s story. This is one of the weaker parts of the game’s story, however does involve some potentially game changing events that may lead into further games.



    The combat is very similar to Black Flag, albeit with a few changes. Some of Shay’s combat animations are similar to Edward Kenway’s, but Shay does possess some rather unique and cool looking moves to compliment his sword and dagger fighting style. However one of the biggest changes to the combat is the new tools at Shay’s disposal. Partway through the game Shay obtains a brand new weapon, called the air rifle, which is later modified to include a primitive grenade launcher. With this weapon Shay is able to launch three different darts, sort of like the blow gun in Black Flag, but with the addition of a new firecracker dart which can be used to distract or blow up barrels. With the grenade launcher, Shay can launch grenades that include berserk and sleep gas to affect groups of enemies, or a shrapnel grenade to kill or wound large amounts of men at once. It really is a fantastic little weapon, however is not really necessary in much of the game. But when you do use it, it is quite effect in either silently taking down enemies or producing a large amount of noise and death, which is always fun in these games. Another large change to the game is the addition of a different faction, unlike the British and the French. The new faction is a gang affiliated with the Assassins, featuring standard footsoldiers as well as trained Assassins and stalkers that are always looking for Shay. The presence of nearby stalkers is accompanied by the sound of whispers, which forces the player to sometimes take a detour to find the offending stalker or stalkers as they are quite adept at surprising the player with Assassin tactics that can deal a large degree of damage at once. Their tactics even include the use of gas grenades that can incapacitate Shay if the player does not equip his gas mask in time. This is actually a cool little feature and realistic to the fact that the Assassins would undoubtedly seek to bring down Shay, however in some areas like New York the stalkers are far too numerous, which can make it difficult to run around without constantly needing to take care of nearby threats. Even still, it does provide an interesting challenge to the player, who has never had to face such tactics used against them before.



    Making a return to the series is sailing, this time with Shay captaining a captured sloop and naming it the Morrigan. The Morrigan functions in mostly the same way as the Jackdaw, however there are some differences. For one, the Morrigan now has two new weapons. Instead of the swivel guns from Black Flag, the Morrigan is outfitted with four automatic puckle guns that exploit weak spots much like the swivel guns, and is also free aim, similar to the swivels from III. The other new weapon is the burning oil, which has replaced the fire barrels from Black Flag as a much more useful and damaging weapon. The Morrigan also possesses an icebreaker ram that can also be used for damaging ships. There is not much more to say as the naval combat remains relatively the same as Black Flag despite the weapon changes as well as some differences in controls, however there is one more key difference: it is now possible to be boarded by Assassin-alligned brigs. This presents a new challenge as the brigs can cause a significant degree of damage to the Morrigan if unupgraded, and the initial shock as well as smoke grenade infused battle can kill significant numbers of Shay’s crew. This can present itself as a minor annoyance at key points however it is a fun challenge and something that I wish could have happened in Black Flag. Its inclusion is a very welcome new feature to the game, preventing it from being too similar to its predecessor.



    Black Flag introduced side activities that are both fun as well as practical, and Rogue continues that trend with even more things to do. Returning to the game is Forts as well as a similar gameplay element called Gang Hideouts. Both factor into the economy as controlling them leads to increased income. The gang hideouts are similar in that Shay captures them from the Assassin gangs by fulfilling a set of objectives that ends with the death of the Assassin in charge of that hideout as well as the burning of the Assassin flag. The primary difference between the two is that forts remain primarily a naval mechanic while hideouts are purely land based. Shay can also intercept messenger pigeons that offer contracts to Assassins; instead of Shay assassinating these targets, he actually ensures their survival by killing the Assassin members sent after them. The gang hideouts as well as the interceptions are overall important as it further shows how Shay was able to so effectively cripple Assassin influence is his theater of operations during the Seven Years War, while the forts are more important towards showing Shay’s impact on the French war effort as the forts are controlled by France and captured in the name of England. Related to this is the attack and capture of settlements throughout both the River Valley and North Atlantic that are controlled by the French, as well as raiding supply camps or warehouses for resources. Further related to this is the possibility of encountering various land and sea battles where Shay has the opportunity of assisting the British. Also making a nice return from Black Flag is the Naval Campaign, which allows Shay to send captured ships on missions to open trade routes and increase economic opportunities, both assisting Shay as well as the war effort.



    There are also more side activities that are basically unrelated to the context of the story or era but nonetheless provide hours of extra content. Hunting as well as whaling make a return, with new as well as returning animals to use for either economic gain or for upgrades. There is many animals to hunt and due to the wide range of crafting requirements much exploration is required to upgrade Shay’s armor or tools. There are also opportunities for Shay to use the resources and money he acquires to help renovate buildings throughout the game, on all three maps. They work similarly to how Edward could upgrade his hideout, but with the extra benefit of being more useful in the long run, such as Ezio renovating places in his three games. These renovations factor, like the forts and gang hideouts, into the income for Shay, providing large amounts of money for him to continue his efforts. There are also opportunities for Shay to collect not one but three separate rare armors as well as a weapon from exploring the maps and collecting the necessary things in order to unlock them. In the modern era the player may also hack computers, similar to the mechanic in Black Flag, in order to uncover more back story. While all of this is not absolutely necessary to the game, it is still a fun way to introduce many hours of side content for the player to do either during the story or after.



    There are unfortunately some issues that do become apparent during the course of the game. There are some times where things such as textures or models simply do not properly load, which can be both amusing and frustrating at times. Two notable instances of this occurred in my playthrough, one in which the model of an associate of Shay did not load properly, leading the character’s face to be completely fine but whose uniform was colored hot pink. Another similar instance occurred later in the game, where another character was simply invisible in the cutscene. These glitches are amusing but others do cause some problems. Often times the game will lag, or see a serious drop in frame rates in the middle of combat or sometimes other events, which can lead to frustrating experiences that sometimes ended in desynchronization. The camera can also sometimes get a little off track during certain activities, which can make it difficult to effectively complete those activities. The game also is simply not as good looking as Black Flag, even while comparing the two on the same platform (PS3). Visually the game would have been much better off on the newer consoles, however considering how much is in the game some sacrifices must have been made to make the world so large. The game is still pretty to look at, but simply falls short in this regard, and unfortunately does show the flaws of the aging hardware of the seventh generation. Hopefully the future release of Rogue on PC as well as the possibility of it coming to PS4/XBO might help improve the game in this regard. Other more minor issues include the sharing of numerous resources and mechanics between this game and its predecessors in Assassin’s Creed III and Black Flag. This is not necessarily a bad thing but can be somewhat jarring when you realize that Shay shares some combat animations as Edward, for example. The city of New York, only twenty years removed from the events of Assassin's Creed III, looks completely different from the city in that game, showing that while it was rebuilt to perhaps make free-running easier than it was in III, it looks like a completely different city. There are also some frustrating gameplay mechanics, such as Shay’s inability to quickly use his gas mask during boarding scenes when he is temporarily incapacitated while he loses half a dozen crew members or more to Assassin-led boarding parties before he can even respond. There is also the relentlessness of the Assassin stalkers; while it does make me feel nervous and more alert as a Templar should, their spawning almost everywhere in New York on a near-constant basis can get frustrating at times). The story also feels slightly rushed and short, even considering the fact that missions appear to be much longer than typical, and the returning characters that appeared to be advertised as important to the story were in it for a disappointingly short amount of time. In addition to this, the side activities are indeed fun, but none of them are overly necessary, and feel more like they were added to add extra content. None of these issues are particularly killer in regards to how good the game is; indeed, many of these issues can be seen as inherent in the fact that this game is not the product of Ubisoft’s top-tier teams in the Montreal studio, but rather headed by Ubisoft Sofia, the team behind the rather flawed but still solid Assassin’s Creed Liberation. They did a good job with what they had, and I believe they should be commended for that effort.



    But there are still many positives. Despite its issues, the game is a solid experience. The story, despite its brevity, is entertaining and very engrossing. Shay is an excellent character, and it is really easy to relate to him as you can understand his inner turmoil between his own moral code and those of the Assassins. Shay is a Templar, for sure, but that does not necessarily mean he is bad. The modern story, while lacking compared to other games, still helps serve the growing narrative of the franchise, and much of what happens at the end of the game may have a large outcome on future titles. Additionally, the ways in which it ties into both the previous entries as well as Unity is a great way to solidify it as an important entry into the franchise, despite not being an Assassin in the very end. He is simply using that which he learned to execute his own creed on the world in which he lives. The combat and mechanics such as sailing remain as fun as they were in Black Flag, despite remaining very easy. The side activities are anything but boring, and the maps and the numerous locations are inspiring to explore as you hunt down every remaining collectible. The soundtrack and audio is excellent, although it is clear that the composer took much inspiration from the soundtracks of previous games: the main theme of Rogue is a hybrid between the fan favorite Ezio’s Family track as well as the Assassin’s Creed III theme. The soundtrack is also a bit shorter compared to most, however it is well used. The beloved shanties also return, with some old favorites as well as new ones complimenting the sailing aspect of the game. Finally there is the numerous locations in the game; the North Atlantic and the River Valley really help distinguish themselves from the Caribbean of Black Flag, while New York makes for a fun and large city to explore.



    Overall, Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a must play, and is a welcome change of pace and addition if anyone wishes to see the story of the series from a different viewpoint. If you enjoyed the core mechanics of Black Flag, you will likely enjoy this game.

    8.5/10







    List of Contributors/Other
    List of Contributors


    Mhaedros - Writer






    IlluminatiRex - Writer



    Gen. Chris - Writer/Deputy Editor








    Under the patronage of Omnipotent-Q, Patron of IlluminatiRex and Meelis13
    A social rights activist lobbies to get a ramp installed because people in wheelchairs can't use the stairs.

    A social justice warrior gets the stairs removed because it's "offensive" to people who can't use it, and declare war against anyone who disapproves.

  2. #2
    Finch's Avatar is Deadpool
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    X-Mansion
    Posts
    1,677
    Tournaments Joined
    1
    Tournaments Won
    0

    Default Re: Gamer's Gazette - Issue X

    Congrats on the 10th awesome issue! Happy holidays!




  3. #3
    Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar 宮體詩人
    Content Emeritus

    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1,649
    Tournaments Joined
    1
    Tournaments Won
    0
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Gamer's Gazette - Issue X

    Great issue! Good to see you guys back in action

  4. #4

    Default Re: Gamer's Gazette - Issue X

    Nice read

  5. #5
    Gen. Chris's Avatar BatHex
    Moderation Overseer Content Director Citizen

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Gotham
    Posts
    9,779
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Gamer's Gazette - Issue X

    Thanks for the support, guys. Don't forget to check out some of the older editions of the GG. All are worthy of reading
    Under the patronage of Omnipotent-Q, Patron of IlluminatiRex and Meelis13
    A social rights activist lobbies to get a ramp installed because people in wheelchairs can't use the stairs.

    A social justice warrior gets the stairs removed because it's "offensive" to people who can't use it, and declare war against anyone who disapproves.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •