Published on November 7th, 2013 | by IceCube
REVIEW: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Summary: Hoist the sails and let the wind take you across the open seas in the latest third-person adventure sequel. Aye, this game walks it’s predecessors off the plank, as a new white-hooded assassin steps forward, this time in a massive world of pirates!
Concept: Let’s face it; the old renaissance-time stuff of the previous games was getting dryer than a conveniently-placed hay stack, but we feel this new direction of pirates and treasure hunting has rejuvenated the series. Your new assassin is Edward Kenway, a young poor fella who tries to make it rich by becoming a pirate in the Caribbean. Previous characters in the series have been unlikeable twats, but as struggling young person with dreams of a greater life, the story of Edward is one many of us can relate to. Game publishers, Ubisoft, pimped this game as a full pirate affair, but it’s really a 50/50 mesh of pirateering and old school stealth, never straying far from the familiar formula. We’d have liked to have seen 90% pirates (or even 100%) but the good news is that even the stuff you thought you were tired of becomes fun again through a strong narrative that pushes you onward.
Graphics: For the first time ever the game has truly opened up for wide exploration and discovery, which is what makes coming back to this series truly worthwhile. Before, we saw stone walls and trees, but now we also see docks, vegetation, mountains, wilderness, ruins, sandy islands and vast oceans. Characters appear to have a similar quality as before – high-detailed but rough-edged at times. It’s the scenery that’s truly exceptional, particularly as you take your ship to the seas and marvel over the glistening oceans, random wild weather and beautiful sunset.
Gameplay: Edward moves as fluently as ever, as combat works a treat. Some moves require too much preciseness, like a running stab, where you’ll rush right by your target if you’re not dead-on straight. Free-running along different platforms feels more attuned and not as stiff and awkward as AC3. You can still hunt and skin animals for crafting material, but by far the most fun you’ll have is out on the open seas, bobbing over the waves and spinning the wheel to avoid water spouts, freak waves and enemy cannon fire. The seas are loaded with adventures, battles to engage, secret islands and buried treasures.
Sound: Music is filled with ye olde kind of music we presumed filled the taverns with dancing and bar fights, and it’s great hearing your own crew sing jolly pirate songs when embarking on longer seas journeys. Edward will call out commands to his crew when setting course or changing speeds, and watch as the men go to work.
Multiplayer: Online play is set up like an Animus-based training program. It copies the same successful formula introduced in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, where you stalk your target while another assassin stalks you. This time it has a much better user interface and adds a few new modes and better characters to play with. It’s a presentable upgrade to a familiar formula.
Awesomeness: The present-day Animus scenes are now in first-person, and optional. It’s clearly a part of the game the franchise is stuck with to make all the games cohesive. The decision to make it first-person is great for a brief change, even though it’s still pretty boring to sit through. But the scenes are also optional to play, which is a great decision by the developers. We think it’s worth playing for the full experience, but you wont miss out on much by skipping them.
Final Word: It feels like the team behind this amazing game were ready to step away from the assassins theme and make an swashbuckling adventure solely about pirates (and we think they should have). Pirate ships were teased in AC3, but hammered with force in this game. Sneaking, hiding and evesdropping dull conversations felt like a waste of time when all we wanted to do was be a loud and angry pirate-man who fights oppressors and robs from the rich to feed the poor. As it stands, this sequel has done a superb job fishing and reeling my interests back to the franchise, not just because of the pirate theme, but there’s finally a solid assassin story and strong character development. Fact is, it’s not boring any more – it’s fun.
Score out of 5 bugs
Summary: 1 = Poor, 2 = Average, 3 = Good, 4 = Great, 5 = Amazing