GAME: Assassins Creed IV Black Flag
Release date: 28/10/2013
Type/genre: Role Play
Spoilers / No spoilers Included in this review
Story: 8 / 10
THE GOLDEN AGE OF PIRATES
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag begins in 1715, when pirates established a lawless republic in the Caribbean and ruled the land and seas. These outlaws paralyzed navies, halted international trade, and plundered vast fortunes. They threatened the power structures that ruled Europe, inspired the imaginations of millions, and left a legacy that still endures.
THE CARIBBEAN AT THE DAWN OF THE 18TH CENTURY
The fullest Assassin’s Creed world ever created. Stand among legendary pirates such as Blackbeard, Calico Jack and Benjamin Hornigold, as you establish a lawless republic in the Bahamas and relive the truly explosive events that defined the Golden Age of Pirates. From Kingston to Nassau, explore 50 unique locations where you can live the life of a pirate. Captain and customize your own ship, search for lost treasure, hunt rare animals and loot underwater shipwrecks.
Into this world sails a young, cocky, and fearsome captain named Edward Kenway. His skill with a sword and disdain for authority earn him the respect of pirate legends like Blackbeard, but thrust him into an ancient conflict that threatens to destroy everything the pirates have built.
While Assassins Creed IV Black Flag is the next installment in the Assassins Creed Franchise it is set in a time before Assassins Creed III so is not quite a follow on from previous games. You do not have to have played any of the previous games for this one to make sense.
In Assassins Creed IV unlike in other games you are an employee of ABSTERGO and have your own terminal in there ultra-modern office suite, as we do not include any spoilers in our reviews you will have to play the game to find out more about your position at ABSTERGO.
If you enjoyed the previous skulking about in the shadows, climbing buildings, hunting enemy’s and performing spectacular Air Assassinations, you will enjoy more of these features in Assassins Creed IV, but if you liked the ship combat in Assassins Creed III you will absolutely LOVE Black Flag, as the naval Warfare takes on a whole new dimension in the latest addition to the Assassins Creed Franchise.
Control feel: 8 / 10
The controls follow the same pattern as previous games in the Assassins Creed franchise however with Assassins Creed IV Black Flag they are quite sluggish and unresponsive at times. Running sometimes feels little more than a fast walk, and when you are sprinting, the directional movement can be quite difficult to control, especially when moving over rooftops or in trees. On land is one thing but once you take to the high seas it becomes a completely different game. The ships controls are much more responsive. You have to adjust the track of the ship as the wind direction will influence how much drift the ship is susceptible to, however once you master how your speed and wind direction effects the maneuverability of your ship you will quickly become adept at hunting and defeating enemy ships.
Players new to Assassins Creed will find the ‘Help Prompts’ very useful, experienced Assassins will also find the Naval Warfare ‘Prompts’ helpful as there is much more emphasis on the Naval aspect than in Assassins Creed 3.
In previous Assassins Creed Games you had to return to the Assassins Lair to be able to do upgrades and alter load-out, in Assassins Creed IV the ship is your Assassins Lair making it easier to upgrade and change load-out throughout the game.
You still have to go ashore and visit shops to resupply certain ammunition and purchase specific items. One very handy feature of Assassins Creed IV is that you can purchase the Hunting Items you need to craft certain upgrades. So the player has the choice of hunting the animal for its Hide or Bones or simply buying them in the store.
Graphics: 8 / 10
At first glance the graphics look stunning, however when you look closely this is not always the case. Shadowing is inaccurate at times as it shows pixelisation around the edges of the main items. Rendering and skin tones on the main characters at first glance are good however on closer inspection they are patchy. The colours used enrich the environment as they are bright and vibrant.
Eagle vision is a little different and has a new feature where you can track up to 10 targets at once, even behind cover. This can be a little confusing at first, as you are looking at the target while it is behind walls and buildings, it makes judging distances a little difficult at first. Hunting or chasing animals is the most awkward as the animals are fast moving and may be behind a tree but is still plainly visible to the hunter, but the player will quickly adapt to this feature.
The flaws in the graphics may only be on the Xbox 360 as the game was obviously designed for the next gen Xbox One. Although I have played this for a very short time on a next generation console I was not aware of these imperfections at the time.
Sound: 7 / 10
The sound in Assassins Creed IV Black Flag is adequate but is nothing special; sound effects are relatively realistic if a little basic. Speech can be quite difficult to hear some times, even when the sound is adjusted.
The singing of sea shanty’s very quickly becomes annoying and can’t seem to be turned off.
I played the sound both through the TV and through a headset, and while I found the sound good, it did not blow me away. You will find that you hear the sound better through the headset as you are more aware of the water lapping against rocks for example than you are through your TV.
You play the part of Edward Kenway father of Haytham Kenway and Grandfather of Connor Kenway from Assassins Creed III. Playing as Edward Kenway, it is the same old story, good guy verses bad guy, Assassins verses Templars.
You start the game as a privateer, and have to capture your own ship; the Jackdaw and upgrade it to become a formidable Pirate Captain with an infamous Pirate Ship. All of the Assassins Creed favourites are still included, climbing buildings and trees, stalking enemy’s and animals, crafting, assassination contracts, open combat and the continuation of a personal favorite of mine from Assassins Creed III Naval warfare are all in abundance in Assassins Creed IV Black Flag.
The Naval Combat is much more intense than in the previous game and you spend much more time at see, you also get to hunt Sharks and Whales which is a nice new feature this time around. As you upgrade your Pirate Ship, you can engage much more formidable ships and can engage in battle with multiple enemies from the Spanish or English Fleets. As you become more infamous you will also be hunted by Pirate Bounty Hunters. You can find yourself in open Combat with loads of enemy’s so far I have had 16 English, Spanish and Bounty Hunter, Fidgets, Brigs and Man-O-Wars at the same time. It is exceptionally satisfying to come out of this as the victor, and extremely rewarding, as the financial rewards in the game for this are vast.
There is an abundance of side missions where you take on Assassination Contracts, hunt for buried treasure, attack and capture Enemy Forts, collect Mayan Treasure and Special Keys. There is a massive expanse of map to explore and all of the ships you will encounter are real and did exist, including several legendary ships such as the HMS Prince which was a Royal Navy 98 gun Flagship which saw active service at the Battle of Trafalgar. With your 42 Guns, 4 Chain Shot and Chase Cannons and twin Mortars, this takes some doing to defeat these ships and you have to rely on all of your wits and cunning to engage and survive a contact with these legendary ships.
There is a lot of the usual sneaking about from cover to cover, remaining undetected as you stealthily approach you target area to steal something or complete a daring assassination.
The gameplay becomes quite repetitive whether you are playing on land or at sea, however as you upgrade your character or your ship, you become better at performing specific actions which allow you to do certain elements of the game easier or more effectively.
Assassins Creed IV Black Flag is not a new game, it is a continuation of the Assassins Creed Franchise; unfortunately it does not seem to make the leap that was promised.
While still an excellent game in its own right, it lacks any new concepts or ideas other than expanding on the already tried and tested favourites. The leaps forward in graphic and game play have simply not materialised.
How Assassins Creed IV Black Flag will appear on the Xbox One is still to be seen but on the Xbox 360 it is simply the next game in the series nothing more. However it has to be stated that this is an excellent addition to the Assassins Creed Franchise and will supply the player with hours of enjoyment, don’t expect to complete Assassins Creed IV Black flag in a few hours, it is likely you will still be playing this well after Christmas if you want to complete the whole game.