I’m on a mission to full synchronize all the core Assassin’s Creed games. Other video games may distract me, but this project is always foremost in my mind. This franchise is “edutainment”. There is so much historical information packed into optional asides that playing becomes an even balance between murdering hundreds of people and reading codex entries. The actual missions comprise only a handful of hours of the total playtime, and I spend the bulk of the remainder scouring the expansive maps for collectibles. It is a meditative pursuit, and it makes me happy that this is my hobby. Ubisoft has that very French sensibility at the foundation of all of their games, where style is so important that it is hard not to feel stylish while playing. These games are cool, and they make the player feel cool. I don’t know how else to describe it.
That’s not to say that this entry is perfect, though the pursuit of perfection is evident. There’s a late-game mission that made me gnash my teeth in frustration, and it seems as though every entry so far has had one of these. Usually it’s a timed chase: if you fall too far behind your quarry you “desynchronize” and have to start over. These trials end up becoming an exercise in learning the correct pathway rather than using the abilities you’ve spent the last twenty to fifty hours mastering. I find that a general annoyance in games, where whoever was tasked with the sequence or level design decided that it was time to make the player feel dumb. It’s a shame, too, because like a single bad comment in a sea of positive ones, those moments tend to stick in the mind long after the experience is done, and run the risk of clouding the eventual review. At this stage of my gaming career, I take a more leaned back, holistic approach to offering my opinion. Nothing’s perfect… but some things could have been if only quality assurance had paid more attention during playtesting. But I digress.
The closer I came to completing Rogue, the more excited I got to play Unity. As of this writing I’m just past Unity’s prologue and there are enough callbacks to make the Rogue playthrough very rewarding. When Rogue came out I felt as though it was a divergence, or an optional B-side in the franchise. I now understand that it’s every bit as essential as Black Flag, and it is a critical bridge between III and Unity.