I can’t begin to count the amount of times I’ve played through the various Assassin’s Creed games over the years. Every time an older game gets a new release, I want it. I don’t know why. It’s become something of an obsession at this point. So when Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection released on the Nintendo Switch, I knew I had to have it. And who wouldn’t want such a great duo of games?
The Rebel Collection includes the fan-favourite pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, along with all of the previously released DLC, and Assassin’s Creed Rogue, the spin-off game that was massively overlooked due to releasing day and date with the next-gen Assassin’s Creed Unity. They’re both fantastic games in their own rights and, in my opinion, perfectly suited to the Nintendo Switch.
I started my playthrough with Assassin’s Creed Rogue, a game I’ve played and completed PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and PC. That’s four times already, and yet I was still eager to go another round with the Nintendo Switch. The main draw for me is the handheld play mode. This is the first time I’ve been able to truly play Rogue in handheld form. I’d played a little using the PS4’s Remote Play feature with my PS Vita, but it just isn’t the same. Having it on a nice big handheld with controls made for the system – including gyro-aiming – is perfection.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue came at the very end of the PS3/Xbox 360 generation, and it definitely shows. Graphically it’s not as competent as Assassin’s Creed IV, and there’s definitely a lack of polish in some aspects of the game, but all of these shortcomings are easy to overlook given what the game sets out to do.
Rather than being yet another entry in the Assassin’s Creed series where you go searching for Pieces of Eden, you play as an Assassin-turned-Templar called Shay Cormac. He’s disillusioned with the Assassin brotherhood and he eventually turns to the dark side. But is it really the dark side? Every Assassin’s Creed game prior to Rogue painted the Templars as the ultimate evil and the Assassins as the ultimate force for good. It turns out there’s a lot more going on in the middle ground and Rogue explores this brilliantly with a refreshing take told from the other side.
The gameplay is by-the-by and if you’ve played any of the last-gen Assassin’s Creed games, you’ll know what to expect. It borrows heavily from Assassin’s Creed III and Black Flag. You’ll parkour around familiar locations and do battle on the high seas with your very own vessel, The Morrigan. You can upgrade your sea monster to take on bigger ships. It’ a necessity, too, as some missions will be nigh-on impossible without the right upgrades.
Shay’s arsenal of weapons and outfits can be tweaked to your liking, too, and there’s even a throwback to Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood in the form of building renovations to improve the towns, and gang dens to clear and destroy. There’s plenty to see and do, then, and even more when you factor in all the little islands littering the game’s map.
On a technical level, Rogue is a little disappointing. I played mostly in handheld, but the few times where I docked to the TV to see how it runs, I was switching back to handheld within minutes. It’s not terrible on a TV, but the performance isn’t as smooth as in handheld mode. Playing on the Switch’s little screen hides a lot of the flaws, such as the dynamic resolution that blurs the game’s details a little. On the TV it’s more noticeable, but in handheld mode it’s perfectly fine. The frame rate can tank during some of the more hectic battles, but for the majority of the time it was perfectly fine, and a far cry from previous handheld entries – looking at your here, Liberation on PS Vita.
Most players will be jumping into the Rebel Collection to revisit Edward’s story, and rightly so. It’s the technically superior game and obviously had a lot more money poured into it, but don’t leave Rogue rotting. It’s worth a playthrough.
Black Flag is Black Flag. It’s the exact same game you played years ago – assuming you’ve played it, that is – and it’s an achievement on the Switch. Again, I mostly played Black Flag in handheld mode, though I did dock to the TV for a few hours here and there. Unlike Rogue, Black Flag is near-perfect on a technical level. The frame rate can drop a little during the busiest scenes but it’s barely noticeable, and even less so in handheld mode.
Graphically, Black Flag is great. The luscious tropical islands pop with colour while the seas glisten in the sun Caribbean sun. It’s amazing to think that this game released so long ago and still holds up today. It’s perfectly suited to the Switch, too, and it looks fantastic on the handheld’s screen. I didn’t notice any dynamic resolution and the image was always crisp and clear.
The game itself is lengthy and you’ll easily put in more than 20 hours just going through the game’s story. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, you’ll be exploring the dozens of island locations filled with enemies, hidden treasures, and more. It’s actually well suited to the handheld nature of the Switch. I found that I’d pick up the console during breaks from my writing, hit up a couple of islands, steal whatever I could, and then put the console back into rest mode to carry on with my work. It’s perfect for dipping in and out when you’ve got a few minutes to spare.
To round the deal off, you’ve also got the DLC campaigns to work through, which is easily another 15-20 hours, depending on how much you want to get done. A small critique I would have – and this isn’t the fault of Ubisoft – is the lack of achievement system. On the other consoles, I’d be far more inclined to go mooching through every nook and cranny to collect everything as there’d be a trophy or achievement for doing so. I know it’s not to everybody’s taste, but in such a long and drawn-out set of games, those little rewards help push you forward. What can I say? I’m a sucker for digital doodahs that do not affect my life whatsoever.
Assassins's Creed: The Rebel Collection Nintendo Switch Review
Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection is a brilliant fit for the Nintendo Switch. They may be a little older now and their gameplay flaws more pronounced when compared to recent Assassin’s Creed games, but they’re still worthy for fans of the series wanting to take their swashbuckling adventures on the go.
- More than enough content to keep you busy for dozens of hours
- Fantastic in portable mode
- No horrible audio like in Assassin’s Creed III!
- Rogue can look and run a little iffy at times, especially in docked mode
- Multiplayer would have been the cherry on the top
- Dated gameplay may be a step back if you’ve been spoiled by the newer releases
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Reviewed using Nintendo Switch.