Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Review
Many gamers have said that the Assassin’s Creed series from Ubisoft is a sinking vessel but can the latest addition to this award-winning franchise bring Assassin’s Creed back to its former glory? Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag sees the return of the hugely popular naval combat from previous titles accompanied by the open world experience and abundance of sidequests long associated with the franchise, but is it enough to warrant a next-gen feature, or is Assassin’s Creed a dead piece of drift wood disappearing into the distance?
I don’t consider myself a huge fan of Assassin’s Creed and can’t say I’ve spent more than a couple of hours with each game. However, there are hundreds of reviews from people that are more dedicated to the series so we here at Gamers Heroes thought it would be fitting to review Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag from a new player perspective, after-all there’s sure to be some first-time assassin’s picking it up on next-generation platforms.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Review
The game wastes no time in introducing players to what made the franchise so popular, the 360 degree fluid combat. Players are able to attack in all directions to keep enemies at bay while countering attacks, disarming opponents and delivering deadly finishing blows. There’s something incredibly satisfying about running along rooftops before lunging down on enemies and finishing them in a single blow before disappearing into the distance undetected.
The gameplay on display in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag goes far beyond the adrenaline fueled combat. The free running/parkour made famous by the previous titles in the franchise makes an obvious return and is more fluid than ever. Whether you’re dashing across tiled rooftops, hopping through the treetops or navigating through the shadowy streets of Nassau, the freedom and mechanics of movement come together flawlessly. An area I feel really deserves credit is the design of the environment. Designing an environment to look believable while also practical for game mechanics is a difficult task for even the simplest of games but when a player is literally free to climb almost any object, it becomes far more difficult. The game world doesn’t feel cluttered with the same objects and area designs but it’s all still familiar enough to allow the player to run through the town as if they had been there a hundred times.
Outside of the combat and agility on offer, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag also features a substantial number of side activities totally unrelated to the progression of the main story. I spent several hours just exploring the first town as I synchronized myself with the area before scooping up the Animus Fragments, chests of loot, buried treasure and other collectibles on offer; all of which go towards a full completion rating in that particular area. Practically every zone in the game is filled with these collectibles making it the perfect adventure for those that crave additional content outside of the traditional story arch.
As if the impressive variety of side missions available on foot aren’t enough, the game expands further once you gain access to the open seas and the Jackdaw, your personal ship. To begin with you’ll be able to board and destroy enemy vessels, stealing their cargo to sell for a profit. As the game progresses you’ll be able to capture these ships and send them out on difficult trade routes, requiring both the capturing of powerful ships and the careful deployment for each specific type of job. This could quite easily be a game in of itself when you consider the battle against the elements and enemy ships required to build your fleet before exercising your tactical awareness and strategic depth on the trade missions. Some of the trade missions do offer great rewards, but it can take a few hours before the ship returns. It made me itchy, I really wanted to explore more of the fleet and trade options but I was forced to wait until my allies returned. Friends on PSN can speed up this process, but sadly I’m not cool enough to have any currently playing Black Flag. However, this is an excellent element to add to the game and adds further depth to the already expansive area of ship combat.
Crafting is also another side activity that returns in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag featuring a very simple approach, similar to the crafting system used in Far Cry 3. Different wildlife can be found in different locations with each offering their hide as reward should you hunt and skin them, the pelts and skins are then used to craft upgrade equipment for Edward. I would usually opt for in-depth crafting whenever I get the option but the simplicity of the feature in Assassin’s Creed means it’s a worthy pastime without becoming a hindrance, allowing players to enjoy the more exciting aspects of the game while still reaping the rewards received from crafting.
Avoiding any major spoilers with the story, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag follows the path of one Edward Kenway a privateer-turned-pirate and a close relation to characters featured in Assassin’s Creed III. As with previous Assassin’s Creed games, players take on the role of two characters, one inside the Animus and one inside the real world; working for a corporation to create a new type of entertainment product as they re-create living scenes and memories from those experienced by the user. There are many hidden elements and motives that unravel as the story progresses but it’s an experience worthy of your time. Best of all, you don’t need to have played the previous Assassin’s Creed titles as the story presents itself with enough depth to feature as a stand-alone story; although previous experience with the storyline will undoubtedly offer a little more substance.