Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Review (Single Player Portion)
We at CCU want to approach our reviews a little differently, by providing you — the reader with our history with said game. You know, hitting the extremes and everything in between ie. whether this is our first time (noob) with the franchise (of course New IP’s everybodies new to it right?) or if we’ve bought every game in the franchise or have extensive history or knowledge of a particular title.
Basically our personal background so you again — the reader can see not just a review score but exactly the mindset behind the review; is this my first time playing A RPG? A first person shooter? Do I even like first person shooters?That way you can determine whether the person reviewing the game is coming from a place where you can relate or if it’s something that you need to consider.
Now as far as Assassin’s Creed Series goes I think it’s safe to say that I’ve played all of the console iterations, some of which was played quite recent and is fresh in my mind for good comparisons and non-spoiler references.
I remember buying the first Assassin’s Creed at the local Gamestop back when buying collector’s editions was a new thing to me and the only other collector’s edition I’ve ever bought was Mass Effect. Recollecting back when I first played the game my feelings were that I’ve never played anything like this before with the huge open cities, climbing and jumping from rooftop to rooftop was just a cool aspect to me. It had the appeal of Aladdin on the Sega Genesis.
But the great aspects didn’t stop there, being a fan of history in general (history might of been my best grades in High School) I got to learn the vibe of the crusades and the culture of that time. But everything wasn’t all roses, Assassin’s Creed introduced the true meaning of the plague that is “Repetition”. Boy oh boy, you even do something as simple as look around the city and get the idea that twins was a common thing in those days because Sally walked, talked, and looked like Haley.
But that was just the beginning, after a while of playing you got the feeling that you were in the matrix. The people didn’t feel real and more like tools to navigate the city, The only thing that was really there to me were the missions. Thankfully they were intriguing enough to keep you interested. Oh and the scenes where you see the MAIN protagonist really threw people off, myself included.
As far as the other games in the series is concerned they felt like carbon copies. Not because of content or features, because the content and features were improved upon as the series progressed but I say they felt like carbon copies of each other due to the fact that they all retained the same literal structure in my opinion. You are still climbing up to viewpoints and syncing, you are still pick pocketing, you are still using the fighters and brothel to slip through enemies defenses. It feels as though Ubisoft feels like they have the perfect formula and they had no need to add any new flavor or at the very least find clever ways to do the same things. I like the series no doubt but I feel like the pattern needed to break off from the norm, which leads me to Assassin’s Creed IV…
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was one of the few games to launch with the next gen systems and could be dubbed as a next gen game just as much as it is called a current gen game.
I remember speaking to SchollA (Lead Editor) as I played this game for the first time, and it wasn’t intentional it was actually something important we were discussing prior. But I was so blown away by what I was seeing I had to express how great it was right then and there.
Usually I won’t go out of my way to mention Graphics of a game when I’m having a normal conversation, but the situation called for it. This is the game that makes me put faith in the next gen as far as what I am seeing on screen. There are some things in this game you wouldn’t of thought was possible to see on screen unless it was a cut scene or movie. I’ll drop a hint, have you ever seen the movie ‘Perfect Storm’ or at least the poster? Well there are some times in this game where you feel like you are watching the sequel to that movie. Then there are the times where you feel very relaxed as if you were really at a tropical oasis.
For an Assassin’s Creed game I would say this has the most “eye candy” of all. The hair is a big improvement, not just from any other AC game but just gaming in general. While it’s not perfect it still levels the playing field when it comes to everything else. I will go ahead and say that every developer needs to look to this game when creating water in their game. Its unbelievable how believable the water is in this game no pun intended. Being from Miami Florida, and visiting just about every nearby island around I can safely say I’ve seen my fair share of beaches and the ocean. This game very much compares to how water looks and behaves so for that kudos to Ubisoft.
This game feels like a “spur of the moment” type thing when it comes to story. Without spoiling anything lets just say that you feel the sense the the main protagonist will do anything for gold, loot, booty, whatever you want to call it.
First and foremost a good story can’t be told without at least one good character, and for this game there are several. You have your “forget everything I just want to live life” pirates, your “Cut throat” Pirates, and so forth and so on. Its amazing how these different roles are being played but it doesn’t feel like forced pirate behavior. As a matter of fact I don’t recall any of the pirates using the famous line “Arrrgh” throughout the whole game.
So What is the story really about? Well You play the role of Edward Kenway who is the grandfather to ‘Assassin’s Creed 3’ protagonist Conner. Edward decides he wants a better life for him and his family and he figures what better way to do that then by searching for gold in the Caribbean. As I stated earlier he kind of stumbles upon pirating but despite the unexpected circumstances he’s put in he manages to improvise every time.
In true Assassin’s Creed fashion you have the constant battle between the Templar’s and Assassin’s. Having that said, The feud between the two factions felt like a backdrop to the game, while the Pirate Lifestyle was the “star of the show”.
I myself like the discreet nature of the war between the Templar’s and Assassin’s because I felt that its been jammed into our minds the entire series. You also have the story outside of the ‘Animus’ (device that allows a real-world person to dive into the life of Edward Kenway) and it’s better than the previous games because it’s very simple and nothing too serious. Lets face it, we play Assassin’s Creed games to play in the historical worlds as an Assassin not as a regular guy in the real world and this game knows this so you wont be bothered by it unless you don’t want it at all.
Overall I think Ubisoft needs to continue their storytelling like this.
If you’ve seen a pirate movie you would know that being a pirate involves Rum, woman, ships, gold, and a huge level of “I don’t care about anything but myself”. Well in this game you get all of that and more.
First and foremost I have to say that the map size of this game is just Huge with tons of locations all from small oasis islands to big islands like Cuba and the Bahamas. Now I will say that you do not get the entire country but you get enough to feel like there are so many places to go. So in order to make an open-world so vast and fun it needs to be filled up with good entertaining content. Well the way this is done in Assassin’s Creed IV you will virtually always have something to do.
As far as activities goes it really feels like Naval combat got a lot of attention when the developers was making this game. You start off with a ship named the ‘JackDaw’ and she may not look as big or attractive as some of the other ships in the game but if you spend some time with her and upgrade her she will outperform anything out there.
In the beginning of the game your ship is bare bones and can only really take on smaller class ships. As you play the game you will come across resources that will allow for upgrades. The best and funnest way to obtain these supplies is to take on bigger ships, board them, and conquer them. Once you start to get your hands on bigger and better weapons you most likely will be hooked to naval combat and forget about the rest of the game.
All jokes aside I think naval combat is something that not only the game, but the series as a whole needed. I say this because the original format of the Assassin’s Creed games where you run around the city kill people, collect collectibles, and climb and free run was kind of getting old. I feel that we needed something else, a dramatic addition to gameplay or else the series would plateau. So I definitely think the Naval combat brought that to the series; the sense of a breath of fresh air.
All this talk about Naval combat might leave you thinking that its the only aspect of the game but you’d be mistaken. Along with the ship you can take part in activities such as diving under the sea with a diving bell to uncover forgotten treasure but be wary of the sea life down there as they can be unforgiving, especially the sharks. Speaking about Sharks you can also hunt them using harpoons and a small 2 man boat. This can lead to some very intense situations because you feel very vulnerable on this small boat. At times it can feel like a movie like jaws where it is the suspense is lingering and everything is quiet, and all of the sudden the sea creature comes up and knocks your boat.
At this point you might be asking, but what about the land? Is the entire game at sea like the movie Water World? Well I’m here to say that all of the things that one could do in the older Assassin’s Creed games is still there but not much has changed. You still do eavesdrop missions, assassinations, etc. But that’s not bad because it’s a nice change of pace from being at sea and brings balance to the game.
Personally I found myself treasure hunting a lot. It’s so exciting to look at a very vague map of X marks the spot and actually find the treasure. Hunting is also a nice distraction due to thee good variety in wild life. Overall the ground game is solid and can be entertaining.
Assassin’s Creed does a really good job at creating atmosphere through sound. An example of that is something as simple as shanties, which are basically songs sang by a group of pirates in unison on the subject of “Pirate things” if you will.
As you are aboard your vessel of destruction you will hear these songs along with the constant barrage of wave splashes on board. The sound of seagulls near docks and the calming wind never gets old. I’m from Miami Florida so I know exactly the sounds of a tropical environment and this game nails it almost one to one. When a storm rolls in you definitely appreciate the sound more due to the intense rain, and your crew on the ship reacting accordingly and calling things out accordingly such as maybe a rogue wave, or a waterspout off in the distance.
But Sound is not all about the effects, it also involves Voice acting which plays a huge role for me personally.Yet again Assassin’s Creed IV gets kudos. The people that voice act really give you the sense that they are the character. Whether they are trying to intimidate someone, get a group of people excited, or just relaxing and enjoying life, all of the above is portrayed and executed to the point that you start to actually care about these characters stories.
Overall the sound is very believable and will immerse you in the world of Edward Kenway.
By this point you might be saying is there anything bad about this game? And I would reply “Not Really”. Yes it’s not perfect but I don’t recall anything being bad.
I enjoyed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag a lot and I wouldn’t think twice to play it again if I was in the mood. This game is jam packed with content and interesting things to do. Honestly I will even go as far as to say that it’s the best Pirate game ever made (like there were many to begin with right) and I wouldn’t mind if it were revisited in the Next Assassin’s Creed game because I could definitely see it being expanded upon. Where’s my planks???
I give Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag a 9.4 ControllUs out of 10 with a “Mind Control” Rating.