Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag PlayStation 4 Review
When I heard that Ubisoft was making another Assassin’s Creed game, I cringed a little. After playing AC3, I was pretty much done with the series. The main character was annoying, the game holding your hand for the first few hours; I’m not even going to touch on that prologue. Then I saw the trailer for ACIV Black Flag, and I was sold again. I get to play as a pirate, with my own ship, and jumping out of bushes assassinating people, that’s all I needed to know.
Black Flag takes a different approach than past games. Instead of traveling by foot or horse, from town to town, you travel by ship. And while you’re aboard your ship, sailing the dangerous waves of the West Indies, Ubisoft gives you much to do. From hunting whales and sharks, to exploring uncharted islands, sea diving, and of course the epic Naval Battles.
Assassin’s Creed Black Flag feels the most fluid out of the series. Although it still holds the series plaguing problems. (ex: I have Edward move in one direction, and he moves in another) The combat feels good, although I wish there were more weapons to choose from than just swords and guns. Sure you have things like a dart gun, hidden blades and smoke bombs, but it really feels limited. That’s not the case for Naval Battles. You get to upgrade your ship from supplies you find from defeated ships or out while you’re exploring. You can also command your own fleet with an in-game mini game (Kenway’s Fleet) and have them bring back supplies and money. Naval Battles are fun, much better than they were in AC3. There are different types of enemy ships and they all have strengths and weakness and they force you to tackle them all in different ways. They all end with you boarding them and having certain objectives, like killing a certain number of enemies, or killing the ship’s captain. Sometimes the battles are annoying, you’ll have to keep track of where your ship is and avoid taking fire, while dishing out your own firepower. If not you can end up crashing into the side of an island. Don’t worry the whole game is not just you on your boat, about 40% of your missions deal with you on your boat.
The other 60% plays out on land. The missions in general aren’t hard, but what is challenging is how you go about them, which is completely up to you most of the time. However, there are a LOT of “following” missions. You follow this person, or group of people from point A to point B. I get that I’m an assassin, and tailing someone is essential, but I feel as though there were way too many missions like this, in both land and sea. After every mission there is a rating system, you can rate it 1-5 stars. I hope that they will use the info they got back so the next time around we won’t have so many of the same type of mission. There is a lot of stuff for you to do after the games 20hr+ campaign. You can hunt animals to upgrade Edward’s gear, attack forts, take on legendary ships, complete assassination contracts, explore the different islands/towns for chests and collectibles, etc.
Lastly there are present day missions. They’re not long, and they’re kind of boring. Basically you just hack computers, and have the option of gathering collectibles as well. In the present day it’s all first person. No fighting, no free running. It’s a step down from the previous game’s present day missions.
Online multiplayer returns, with a few new modes. Wolfpack tasks you, and your team to complete certain activities against the AI. Then there’s Deathmatch, Domination, etc. It’s worth a little play through, but it’s not something that will keep you wanting to go back for more.
Everything in Black Flag looks amazing. When I was out at sea, I often took screenshots because it looked so beautiful. The characters have a great level of detail, and so does the environment. Never had and graphical issues, or problems with textures popping in. I can’t wait to see how the next Assassin’s Creed game looks.
Unlike other Assassin’s Creed games, the plot is light and easy to follow. You’re a new employee at Abstergo Entertainment, working inside the animus to look for material you can use in an upcoming video game Abstergo is working on. You play as Edward Kennway, an ancestor of Desmond, and the grandfather of Connor from AC3. As with most pirates he’s carefree and loves money and rum. Over the course of the story, you get to see Edward grow and mature. You’ll rub elbows with famous pirates of the era like Black Beard, and make/lose friends along the way. You don’t have to have played previous games in order to get an understanding of what’s going on for the most part. There are definitely connections to previous games, even some info on what happened to Desmond after AC3. There are some twists and clarity for people who have played previous titles, even some familiar faces, but most of the stuff has to be uncovered via hacking computers in Abstergo. ACIV isn’t going to win any narrative awards, but it did offer some decent character progression.
When I initially boarded my ship and started to set sail, I heard something. While it’s probably been overlooked for the most part, it’s such a big thing when you think about it. My crew sang songs. I don’t mean a little hum, or some whistling, a full-fledged song. The sounds of this game are nothing short of amazing. The voice acting is top-notch, and the sounds of weapons and swords clashing sound realistic.
After taking several steps back with AC3, Ubisoft really took the franchise 10 steps forward with Black Flag. It’s not perfect but it is one of the best if not the best Assassin’s Creed title to date. If you’re one of the many that were disappointed by AC3, you should definitely give AC4 a try. It’s a fun game that will give you hours of content, and have you eagerly awaiting the next title in the series.
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