Assassins Creed IV Black Flag Review

Posted on Aug 31 2014 - 3:00pm by Simon Smith
Assassins Creed IV Black Flag Review
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Presentation: 9/10
Replayability: 8/10

Assassins Creed IV Black Flag

Release Dates
  • October 29th 2013 (Worldwide)
Platform(s)
  • Wii U
  • Playstation 3
  • Playstation 4
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One
  • PC
Publisher(s)
  • Ubisoft
Developer(s)
  • Ubisoft Montreal
ESRB Rating

This game was played on the Wii U.

Assassins Creed 4 left a lot to be expected after playing through Assassins Creed 3. The previous game really was the black sheep of the entire franchise, suffering from so many issues and just overall not being much fun. It is not just me that thinks that, many a fan of the Assassins Creed franchise agree that 3 was not as good as it could have been, and that Black Flag had to be the game that redeems the franchise. While I will say that Black Flag has many issues of its own it does redeem the franchise and turns out to be a good new entry.

The first matter of business in this respect, was ensuring the main character wasn’t as boring as Haytham or Conner. The person you play as, is often very important in whether you will enjoy a game or not, that was half of Assassins Creed 3’s problem, it had pretty boring characters, for Assassins Creed 4 we see an entirely different character to what we have seen before. Edward Kenway is not out to do things for honour or even revenge, all Edward wants is money, and throughout the entire length of the story he often goes on about money and the right price, but still this doesn’t make him a bad character his dedication to the pirates and his ambitions are what help to drive the game.

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Black Flag exhibits a lot more freedom then previous entries in the franchise, it takes us out of the bustling cities and extensive forests or grasslands and sets up a world far bigger than ever conceived previously. A quick look at the overall world map near the start of the game may seem a bit daunting at first because of how big it is but most of the world is actually connected by water, with several little islands scattered about. On top of this you often won’t go into certain parts of the world until late into the game as you will need to upgrade your boat first.

Just about everything you do in Assassins Creed 4 is in pursuit of money and treasures, all for very specific reasons. Most of the games focus and time is spent around Edwards boat the Jackdaw, and often while on sea you will encounter several boats to take down and board, and also in many story missions you will encounter the same thing. Most of the money you get will end up going into upgrading your ship to provide it with better abilities such as more power and better armour. If you hope to succeed you will often have to spent many hours on the sea tracking down and taking out other ships, all this to help yours get better, and be able to take on further challenges with ease.

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This then follows into the freedom I mentioned, there is so much to see and do in this world and to get to some of these places you are going to need a tip top vessel to reach it all. That is part of what is great that there are so many small islands that you can dock on, and then go out and find treasures and many thing that will lead to further treasures down the line. This in turn results in the game’s first major problem, at times you will find treasure maps and once you dock on an island that correlates with a map you are immediately told, which ruins some of the fun of discovery. But still because of the freedom there is a whole lot of content to keep you going long after the main game is finished which is still interesting. The whole sense of discovery is really part of the games driving force which meant I never knew what I was going to find.

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Even if sailing is does have significance as part of getting through the game I started to feel bored with the slow pace that comes from this. It remains interesting for a time but by the time I hit about halfway through the game as a whole I was tired of sailing. At these points I was glad of fast travel, it was never a bad thing but it just didn’t always remain fun even with all the pirate shanties that are still stuck in my head.

Sailing may be the games main focus, but that doesn’t stop the classic Assassins Creed vibe shining through. Many of the games missions are set on small and major islands and you get to have a break from the seas and enjoy some time on land. Often land is used for gathering information and taking people’s lives, but you are given a range of mission types and objectives that have to be completed. A lot of the time this is great, as scaling tall buildings and leaping from rooftops while plotting your moves are fun and feel quite like something of an Assassin, it was a shame though that a lot of points the Assassin style missions are overused.

At first when you start the game tailing people and listening to their conversations feel great, and takes on the vibe of what it would be like to be an Assassin. However this feeling only lasts so long, after doing missions where you follow people, whether as part of the group or at a distance these grow stale pretty quickly, they often seem overused and like you are wasting time that could have been spent better. Similarly, a selection of other mission types cover the same issue and grow old quite quickly, they are still enjoyable at times but lack most of the impact that they once had at their first couple of appearances.

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On the positive side I can easily that there are a selection of great characters in the game, particularly in the pirates. Famous historical figures such as Blackbeard bring interest to the game, and help to keep the story interesting and the way others are so mysterious really keeps interest as the story progresses even to its late hours.

Desmond and his story may be finished now but that hasn’t stopped the modern setting of part of the game. You now play as a video game developer in the Templar run company known as Abstergo, Abstergo collected DNA from Desmond’s body moments after his end and that’s being used for the Templars to find things of interest. These sections end up giving nice insight into the Templars and there goals but at many occasions they feel like pointless filler content that the game could do without.

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Assassins Creed IV Black Flag is a step up from its predecessor, it may never be the perfect experience it could have been for a few reasons but everything it does improves on what Assassins Creed 3 did. Still I can say Assassins Creed fans will not be disappointed as while there are issues the game is fun and easy to lose many hours to and then come back and visit. However you may have to look past some of the rough edges if you are like myself and wanted some evolution from some of the traditional Assassins Creed style.