Platforms: PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
ARRGH, Matey! It’s a pirate’s life for me! Sail the open seas in Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag during the pirates era of 1715. Ubisoft distances itself from Assassin’s Creed III in many ways with the open world exploration of the massive seas and puts the wind at your back to navigate to different locales. The Caribbean is at your disposal as you sail and explore every island available. Black Flag has an entertaining journey that awaits you and many tombs to raid as you master the seas!
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag begins its journey with Edward Kenway, a British turned pirate and father of Haytham Kenway, and grandfather of Ratonhnhaké:to, who were from Assassin’s Creed III. Kenway is beat and battered when his ship is sunk. You wash up on a beach with, who you believe, is a fellow pirate but who turns out to be an assassin sent to kill you. However, his gun jams and he takes off into the forest. Kenway chases the assassin through the forest until finally murdering him for his failed attempt. Upon looting the corpse, you discover the governor of Havana ordered the hit with a rogue assassin and instructed to return a cubed key that had been found at sea.
However, the governor has never met the rogue assassin and looks forward to finally meeting him. Kenway takes over the assassin’s identity and makes his way to Havana. It’s there in Havana that you undertake the privilege of looking for the Observatory, an artifact that can see the exact movements of others. The Observatory is wanted by the Templars, however, the governor wishes to find it first. In order to do so, a Sage is needed to help guide them to the location. Kenway embarks on a journey to find the Observatory and restore order to the Caribbean.
No matter which system you choose, Black Flag looks gorgeous and well-constructed. The lighting and shadow effects are superb and the reflections on the water are phenomenal. It really captures the beauty of the Caribbean ocean. The sheer size of the ocean is remarkable and the vast amount of things to do is never ending. From upgrading the ship in various ways, to upgrading your gear, the customization is vast and plenty.
Perform activities on your way to your destinations and it opens up even more ways to customize from the items you obtain in different locales. For example, skin an Orchard and use the skin to build a holster for an extra weapon. In no way does the main story hinder your exploration to different tombs and caves, especially when you find a treasure map and embark to find the buried treasure. X marks the spot!
Black Flag once again incorporates the fast paced climbing, roof top running scheme that the other Assassin’s Creed games have embraced. However, it’s far from being as good as the past games have been. Many times my character would not obey the commands being given, jumping in directions that I wasn’t pressing, or simply being stuck bouncing up and down as if the game couldn’t decide whether to climb or drop. This is very unfortunate for a game so far into the series and the feeling that it’s taking a step backwards in player control.
In addition, some of the characters lips don’t sync while talking while some sync perfectly. These are minor gameplay distractions when compared to the large array of exploration that has been put into the game.
Black Flag does convey a lighter tone than in the past. Many of the assassinations are not as gory and are much quicker when compared to Assassin’s Creed II. This was a letdown for me as I loved seeing the slow motion assassinations. The iconic follow and eavesdrop missions are back unfortunately. These missions are a distraction to the fast paced gameplay and hopefully Ubisoft will finally rid the game of them completely. After all, I never seem to pick up any piece of information in these missions that matter.
The multiplayer experience that Black Flag delivers is awesome. The fast paced, run and gun style gaming is not present as you need to blend in to get the kills needed. Choose your battles carefully and mingle with crowds to trick other players into thinking you are no more than a mere merchant.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag is the best in the series and gives you 40 plus hours of gameplay that is ever changing. No more of the redundant missions that plagued past Assassin’s Creed games. Even though it would have been nice to have a flawless experience, I was inclined to continue playing just to see the beautiful locales that I could discover. Becoming a pirate assassin is very refreshing. The seas are vast and with the wind to your back, you can sail anywhere your pirate heart desires!