Review: Assasins Creed 4: Black Flag

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I’ve recently started playing Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag on my Xbox One. I saved this game to be one of the final launch games I played because I knew that if I ended up enjoying it, it would swallow my life whole for a few weeks and push all other games to the wayside. The keyword here is “if”, because I haven’t had the best experiences with this series as of late. I didn’t enjoy the Fort Defense mechanics in Assassins Creed Revelations, and to be honest by that point in the series the game play mechanics had become very stale to me. I was after beating AC 1, AC 2 and Brotherhood and not only beating but completing all side quests. By the time Revelations was released I was really only excited about what was going to happen in the story arc.

The release of Assassins Creed 3 did nothing to help these feelings. I found myself completely disinterested in the first 2 excruciating hours of the game. With an unbelievably slow paced prologue, seemingly never ending cut scenes, and utterly disastrous game play mechanics. I even went back a second time, months later to try to get through it, just because it was wrapping up the Desmond story arc, though this attempt was futile. I gave up around 5 hours in.

So, here I was, spending 70 dollars on another Assassins Creed game, with hopes that Ubisoft would be able to turn this franchise around with a fresh, new installment of what used to be one of my favorite IPs (that’s Intellectual Properties for the casual gamer). I was excited of the premise of an Assassins Creed set in the Caribbean and playing as a cut throat pirate who stumbles into the Assassins Order by pure happenstance.

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The lifestyle of these men always intrigued me. There’s something alluring about the life of a pirate from the 1700s. The mundane, normal life in society was not for them.  They decided to live the life of an outlaw on their own terms, even if the consequences, had they been caught would certainly be death. Movies and popular culture seem to always portray them as having some different type of honor. An outlaws set of morals, though different from our own has something about them that pulls you in to see their side of the coin, and to empathize with them.

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The story begins with a bang, as you see our new protagonist, Edward Kenway and his band of pirates locked in a vicious naval battle with a British ship. This concludes with both ships being destroyed and Kenway being shipwrecked and washing ashore, but; not before locking eyes with the Assassin Duncan Walpole on the other ship. Once on the island, Edward, intrigued by this strangely dressed man, decides to stalk him to find out more. A battle ensues resulting in Edward defeating him and finding out he had a big payday lined up for delivering stolen items from the Assassins.

At this point in the game, the protagonists main and really only concern is money. He decides to steal this man’s Assassins uniform, disguise himself as Duncan and make his way for Havana. From here Edward Kenway gets wrapped up in a large war that had been raging for centuries in secret between the Assassin Order, and the Templars.

The game revolves around something called the “Observatory”. It is a secret place made by the precursor civilization known only in legends. It allows whoever is controlling it to see into the life of any man or woman in the world. Think crystal ball but with a kick. The Templars are using any resource necessary to find this secret place, and the Assassins are doing everything they can to stop them, knowing that the Templars would only use this for evil. Our anti-hero turned hero, Edward, unwittingly gets wrapped up in this war. He begins as a simple pirate, out for money and nothing more. As the story progresses and he begins to see the honor and courage possessed by the Assassin Order, something changes in him. He begins to realize that there may be more to life than just how many coins are in your pocket. I won’t go much deeper into the story as I want you all to find out for yourselves 🙂

While the story was well written, and interesting I couldn’t help but be distracted by all of the other things Assassins Creed 4 had to offer. I believe where this game really shines is in the side story and gameplay. You become the Captain of a ship very early on, which Edward names the Jackdaw. Ubisoft claimed the Jackdaw was essentially the second main character in the game and I must admit that this isn’t far from the truth. Your ship can be fitted with dozens and dozens of new weapons, stronger armor, and a battering ram, to name a few. You also have nearly a hundred different upgrades at your disposal that change the look of your ship. If you’re going to explore the West Indies, you are going to need to familiarize yourself with this ship and get ready for some intense naval battles.

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The map is nothing short of astonishing. It is gigantic and there is easily a hundred hours of exploring if you want to find every collectible in every nook and cranny of this, the largest Assassins Creed game to date. I’ve personally sunk over 80 hours into the game and though I’ve finished most everything, there is still plenty to go back to if I get that itch to be a completionist on this game, which I likely will.

Returning from Assassins Creed 3, is the Hunting System only this time they went all out. Hunting is done in order to craft new outfits, pistol holsters, ammo pouches, etc. The game gives you the ability to hunt things such as Hammerhead Sharks, Killer Whales, and more. The mechanics behind this is actually incredible. It makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of Moby Dick! (Call me Kenway, get it?!)  Rather than explain I thought I’d record a clip from my Xbox One DVR to show just how fun this is. Sorry in advance for the poor commentary on this video. I made this quite late at night while I was quite tired, but stay tuned for some better videos in the future!

There are so many other things to do in this gigantic world. One such thing that I enjoyed thoroughly was capturing naval forts. These are scattered throughout the map and belong to different countries which are heavily defended. You must use your ship strategically in order to destroy their defenses and be able to dock. From there our hero must take to land and defeat the captain while a large battle takes place within the fort. It’s incredibly fast paced and is superbly executed.

In this time period, the Spanish, French and British were all battling it out to colonize the new world and as a result you will regularly see naval battles on open water occurring. These are a great opportunity to swoop in and take down a large number of ships once both sides are weakened. Taking down ships is an essential part of Assassins Creed 4. Each ship is carrying different types of cargo. These different things such as steel, wood, and cloth will give you the things you need to upgrade your ship. You can also steal rum and sugar, and trade these for money.

All in all, I must say I had a great experience with this game. There’re so many moving parts, and they put it all together in such an intricate way that everything flows almost flawlessly. This truly was redemption for a franchise that was running the risk of being shipwrecked itself, but Ubisoft weathered the storm beautifully and churned out what has been my most enjoyable experience with an Assassins Creed game to date. I give this game a 9/10. I just want to reiterate again that I reviewed the Xbox One version of the game and even though I’m sure they’re all quite similar I just wanted to make it clear for those of you thinking on buying the game based on my review.

Thanks for coming back to the blog guys! Sorry I haven’t been back in so long but I promise to be more consistent in the weeks and months to come. I want to thank my buddy Michael MacArthur for once again editing the blog and helping me out with some wording! You’re the man bubba! I am going to be bringing game clips that I will be editing and recording some voiceover for what I hope to be some funny videos! If you have any requests for which game you’d like to see me play, leave it in the comment section below! Also if you don’t mind taking this little poll I set up for yall that would be great! See you next time gamers and gamettes ! Don’t forget to hit me up on xbox live @ mitcHELLspawn or PSN @ shadyAShell .. Later 🙂

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