Five straight years of Assassin’s Creed. After the mixed reception many gave Assassin’s Creed III, we weren’t sure another would be coming right away. Sure enough though, it did, and a full numbered sequel at that. Some scratched their head, and never gave it a chance. Well, change that mindset because Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag emerges from the depths of the ocean as one of the best in the entire series.
Black Flag manages to rid itself of unnecessary elements introduced during III, and build upon elements from previous games. Ubisoft introduces a unique and brilliant take on piracy in the Caribbean during 1715, and follows the Assassin Edward Kenway, ancestor to III’s Haytham and Connor Kenway, and, of course, the present-day Desmond Miles.
The player takes control of not only Edward, but also a nameless character on the other side of the animus since Desmond, for the first time, isn’t along for the ride. With this character, the player is able to experience the series’ debut into first-person gameplay. Within the animus though, it’s still the third-person perspective we all know and love. The first-person segments, while they may be unique or different, unfortunately are not nearly as well implemented as they are in full-on FPS,’ but do manage to change up the experience and keep you interested.
The game ties into its predecessors by continuing the modern Assassins’ story and links with Aveline de Grandpré’s adventure, Assassin’s Creed: Liberation for the PS Vita. I won’t spoil it, but the ways which it flows together will become apparent at the right away. Edward’s story continues from its predecessors by still pitting him against a Templar faction in the Caribbean and having him hunt key targets down one by one. But the game, unlike other Assassin’s Creed titles is so open that you can create your own tale on the high seas.
Shopping as introduced in Assassin’s Creed II, is also still available. You can shop for outfits, weaponry, and ship upgrades, which will be important since you’ll be sailing about three-quarters of the game’s length. Upgrades aren’t something to be ignored like they were in III. Since you’re always on The Jackdaw, you’ll want to outfit her with the best equipment and upgrades to make your life on the high seas more enjoyable.
While aboard The Jackdaw, you can tail and attack enemy ships, swim for treasure, and even harpoon animals. While the sailing segments in III were riveting, in Black Flag they can be mundane at times because, unlike Connor, Edward is on the sea so much more. But since the upgrade system is much more involved, and there are so many things to do at sea, that boredom quickly subsides with a dive into shark-infested waters.
When it comes to land gameplay, it’s relatively the same. Edward climbs all over Caribbean structures and pick-pockets to his heart’s content, so don’t if you adverse to change. Stealth makes a bit of a comeback as bribing courtesans is back after their disappearance during III, and serve as cover for Edward. Black Flag makes no attempt to improve these aspects, and does not need to. The classic experience is of these aspects is what links the game to its predecessor’s iconic gameplay experience. Though the fact that Edward cannot use “Eagle Vision” while running is a minor disappointment (though it is compensated by the introduction of automatically marking targets, instead of you having to lock on yourself), the rest of the classic elements of the Assassin’s Creed series are all fine and accounted for.
Beautiful, tropical land and endless blue seas dot Black Flag‘s world in gorgeous fashion. The map is the series’ largest yet, spanning across the entire Caribbean. With bright island settings, the game offers a cheery aspect to the intense action taking place throughout the story. Some notable places featured are: Nassau, Tortuga and Havana. Urban areas such as Havana, are populated with Early Spanish Architecture in close city settings to create an authentic look. There are also jungle areas where Edward is able to traverse on trees mainly, and pre-Columbian architecture makes an appearance here. Weather circulates across all these areas, particularly at sea. The day and night can either be bright and clear or dark and stormy. The weather is beautifully done and makes traveling the seas even more of an adventure.
Character animations and environments are updated, though not noticeably so. Revelations was a prime example of a leap in the quality of visually, especially during the cutscenes. Black flag follows in the series footsteps though and is slightly careless with some scenes and graphics as there’ll be texture pop-in, weird animations, and audio issues.
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag features a large and diverse world. Black Flag builds on top of the base of Assassin’s Creed III, and takes sailing and other features to whole new levels. Despite a few blemishes, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is amazing. It features incredible new and addictive features and breath-taking locales. including some original game play, we all know and love, Black Flag is yet another success on Ubisoft’s part, and a wonderful addition to the Assassin’s Creed series.