Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

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9.0 Overall Score
Presentation: 8/10
Story: 9/10
Gameplay: 9/10

Fantastic Storyline | Fun Pirate Gameplay | Ton of Side Activities

Looks Aged on Xbox 360

Written by on November 14, 2013 in [, , , ]

The Assassin’s Creed series has had a somewhat tumultuous history, as many games that have yearly releases do. Following the phenomenal success of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was released and the series began to lose its appeal to some players. While Assassin’s Creed III attempted to reinvigorate things, the bland main character of Conner made the story feel far less interesting than it should have. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag truly needed to be something of a game changer for many longtime fans of the series to stick around. Thankfully, it provides at least one of (if not the) best experiences the franchise has ever seen.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag takes place simultaneously as a prequel and a sequel to Assassin’s Creed III. As with other games in the franchise, a decent portion takes place in a slightly futuristic version of our own timeline. Abstergo, the Templar controlled company that hunted series mainstay Desmond Miles, has developed a new Animus Entertainment System and you play as one of the developers for a new game and must dive into the genetic memories of one of Desmond’s ancestors. This plot line gets fairly crazy, even by Assassin’s Creed standards, near its conclusion.

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When you dive into the Animus this time around, you find yourself in the role of Conner’s grandfather, Edward Kenway. Kenway seeks out a life of fame and fortune, taking to the high seas to become a pirate. Along the way, he finds himself inadvertently involved in the war between the Assassins and the Templars, all while trying to make enough gold to retire lavishly. His story takes some fairly major turns as, for the first time in a while for the series, there’s a heavy emphasis on characterization. As you play through, you begin to get a true sense of just how much this life of piracy has cost Edward and everyone he cares about. Ubisoft makes no attempts to depict the pirate’s life as a glorious one, and in doing so they create one of the most fascinating characters Assassin’s Creed has ever seen. This culminates in the most incredible moment in the franchise’s history near the end of the game.

One of the major complaints about Assassin’s Creed III was that while there was a large, open wilderness, there often wasn’t much to do within it. In Black Flag much of that has been replaced by the open sea. While naval missions were a part of the previous game, Assassin’s Creed IV is as much about sailing as it is about parkour. When you are traveling between different ports, you will take your ship (the Jackdaw) across the Caribbean, finding various islands with secrets and, as you might expect, general pirate activities.

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See a ship waving the Spanish flag? Open fire on it with your cannons and board it to loot the contents of the ship. You can then use the items you plunder to upgrade your ship or sell to merchants. You can take these ships for your own and add them to your fleet in order to trade between various countries or you can destroy them and use the remains to repair your ship. While Assassin’s Creed III had an emphasis on hunting, there really was no use for it as you could easily go through the game without spending a single penny that you earned there. Here though, you want to get those upgrades for your ship as getting a high level ship will make missions where you use the Jackdaw far easier.

The game does include hunting, but rather than just selling animal pelts, you collect them and use them to upgrade your character, similar to Far Cry 3. Additionally, when you’re on the high seas you will find various hunting points where you will hunt either sharks or whales. These can be extremely graphic if you’re an animal lover, especially when you have a whale who is, in the game’s own words, “turning the sea red.” Thankfully, you can completely avoid this by just buying the skins from a store.

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Much of the core mechanics on land remain unchanged from previous titles. The free running and parkour feels just as good as it ever did, and with cities having more tall buildings than in Assassin’s Creed III, climbing feels like a slight puzzle as it did in Assassin’s Creed II. Combat also remains fairly untouched. You still want to counter your enemies’ attacks in order to land killing blows. The game also allows you to counter attacks into a disarm, but this is almost never needed as once you counter an attack you will almost always land a lethal strike.

All of that said, however, if you have the option to play this game on a next generation system or PC, you might want to consider waiting. The Xbox 360 version has some hugely noticeable “fog of war” effects going on. This can cause absolute havoc when you are trying to board a ship as you will need to kill a prerequisite number of enemies before you can claim it as your own. Having a cloud of fog when you are fighting against twenty enemies and have another twenty from your own crew in a huge combat scenario sounds like fun, until you can barely see anything that’s going on in front of your own face. The game also ends on a pretty big “sequel bait” moment, where the game tells you that there’s still a huge thing that needs to be done. While not surprising, it might feel like the game is a little bit incomplete to some.

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Still, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is one of, if not the best game the franchise has spawned. Not since Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood has the series felt livelier. The character of Edward is easily the most interesting that the series has spawned and the emphasis on piracy has helped add a new layer of depth to a franchise that many felt was too easy. After playing this game you will realize that, yes, a pirate’s life is for you.

A copy of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was provided to The Married Gamers for review.

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Author: Addam Kearney View all posts by

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