Salivating over the next-generation game Assassin’s Creed: Unity but don’t own a next-generation console on which to play it? Ubisoft has just the game for you Luddite scum. Hitting shelves just two weeks after Unity hits those closer to the front of the store, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue (to be followed by Assassin's Creed: Blnac and Assassin's Creed: Belu) will be available only for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Rogue puts you - “for the first time ever,” according to an Ubisoft forgetful of Assassin’s Creed III's five-hour tutorial - in the boots of one of the Assassins’ arch-enemies, the Templars. The on-foot and naval adventure will take players through 18th Century New York, the American frontier and into the North Atlantic. Templars, it seems, play pretty similarly to Assassins.
Yes, this all looks a bit familiar, like the suspicious-looking pastry labelled "fresh today" that's been sitting at the cafe every morning for a week. Sure, providing previous-gen gamers with new content is admirable. Far too often are still-viable platforms forgotten the moment their successors appear. But as any player of prior Assassin’s Creed games will tell you, Rogue'sgame mechanics and setting sound nearly identical to Creeds III and IV. Unoriginality isn’t new in Assassin’s Creed games - arguably, the only major change to the series’ core gameplay since 2009 has been the addition of ship-based combat - but based on its description, Rogue looks to be taking the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" maxim to the max.
It's entirely possible I'm making a rash judgement here. But all signs point towards Rogue being an only partially new but entirely full-priced title, produced as a cheap stopgap for owners of older consoles. With only three months between announcement and release, the publisher isn't putting much marketing muscle behind it, either.* Of course, the seven Ubisoft studios credited will have undertaken new research, writing, and voice acting, and new modelling and coding to accommodate new or changed areas and mechanics, but they're ultimately stapling that onto a pre-existing framework (though an enjoyable one) that ceased to be innovative years ago.
Are you willing to pay full price for a game you've essentially played before? Ubisoft hopes so. No? Then pony up for a new console and Assassin's Creed: Unity. Soon, there won't be any other games left.
* As of this writing, the US product page for the game features text copy-and-pasted from the Unity page, centring on the French Revolution and the next-gen Anvil engine, neither of which factor into Rogue at all. That's a pretty potent sign.