Another year, another Assassin’s Creed. This time round we are located in 1700’s Caribbean; a time when piracy was rife and the new world had only just been discovered. Assassins Creed IV Black Flag is the 6th addition to the Assassin’s Creed franchise and serves as a prequel to Assassin’s Creed 3.
Beautiful and ambitious is what you’ll first notice when starting out in Assassin’s Creed IV. With its sun-kissed beaches and gorgeous Caribbean ocean; Assassin’s Creed IV really puts you at the heart of a world that’s just waiting to be explored.To put it quite simply, the game is a visual masterpiece. Even on my 5 year old Xbox 360, the graphics exceed my expectations of what the game would actually look like and I can only expect better when the game releases for PC and next-gen. They fully immerse you in the world and when you take time out to just admire the graphics you begin to notice the tiny details that have been added to further enhance your experience.
When you’ve finally gotten over the beauty of the game, you begin your journey with Edward Kenway. Edward Kenway is not your typical assassin, he starts out as a money driven pirate and his personality and demeanor are a complete contrast as to what you’d expect an assassins to be. You could say he’s your everyday pirate! As you progress through the story you begin to connect and form a relationship with Edward; this, in my opinion, is something that’s vital for people to actually enjoy the story. As we saw in AC3, Conner was not the most likable character and people were put off by this. However, Assassins Creed IV does this perfectly well with all its characters and provides a diverse range of characters you love, hate, love to hate and hate to love.
Furthermore, the story, in itself, is quite unique to its predecessors. Without giving away any spoilers, the story feels literally like a pirate story whereas before the story shouldn’t have been took at face value as it had a higher purpose. For some, this will be a fantastic addition as the modern day story is limited significantly, but for some, like me, I was extremely disappointed in the way the modern day story has now become a second-hand priority. Even though I’ve spent at least three hours in the modern day, it still doesn’t fulfill my need for modern-day story content, but I’ll leave that there as I don’t want to go into a rant!
However, none of this takes away from the magnificence that is Edward’s story. The naval battles have a huge part in the game, and boy are they fantastic! They create some truly epic moments. For instance, taking on two ‘man’ o wars’ at the same time with the Jackdaw created some of the best moments I’ve ever experienced in gaming. Even when you’re free-roaming and decide to take on a full armada, it still doesn’t feel repetitive or boring and this can be said throughout the game. From deep-sea diving to assassination contracts, they all feel fresh and different each time and this is ultimately down to the freedom the game gives you. Assassin’s Creed IV doesn’t hold your hand when you journey through the world, it lets you do what you want, however you want. This is what creates such a difference when you compare the game to previous titles. There is no denying that this game is the most adventurous and exciting in the franchise.
Unfortunately, like every game, it does come with its flaws. There are some annoying, but amusing, glitches in the game that occur at random, infrequent moments. For example, I was once on the Jackdaw and it had been hit with a volley of cannon fire from an enemy ship and as the cannons hit I was flung up into the air, I then landed back onto the ship and died. The free-running in the game also has a few tiny glitches, but it’s nothing that’s devastating or enough to put you off the game. There are also times when you can see that the graphics full potential is not being reached on the current-gen, but this is few and far between. In terms of gameplay, enemy variation is lacking. You’ll kill an enemy that looks the same as the hundreds you’ve killed before and although it’s not a massive negative, it does hinder the games level of enjoyment you get from time to time. As for the combat system, it still has some flaws. If you put enough time into fighting you’ll soon figure out how to master it. Although it has been tweaked from previous versions, it still has room for improvement and the fact that after a few hours you’ve more or less mastered it is its most damaging.
To sum up, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is the most expansive, enjoyable and fun-filled game in the Assassin’s Creed franchise to date. With its freedom to allow you to virtually explore anywhere you choose and the fact that the world is filled with numerous side missions, world events and collectibles, you’ll easily find yourself sinking 30 hours in within the first week. The world wants you to come back and you need no persuading to do so. If you’re just buying the game for the modern day story then you’ll find yourself disappointed, but there is lots of content regarding Desmond and others to find so you can easily sink another three additional hours into the game. Despite some of the flaws the game has, these are easily outweighed by the positives. Just being able to be a pirate makes this game a must buy and with how brilliant the game actually is, you’ll definitely feel like you’ve gotten your monies worth. Ubisoft deserves a congratulations on making such a fantastic game and have brought back some well earned respect to the franchise. Well done Ubisoft.