Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Review

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a 2013 action adventure stealth video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal, published by Ubisoft, and released for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U and Microsoft Windows.  Serving as the sixth installment in the Assassin’s Creed series, the game follows Welch pirate Edward Kenway who gets caught up in a centuries-old struggle between Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control.


Positives:

  • Good characters
  • Great score
  • Vast open world
  • Awesome combat system
  • Great voice performances
  • Great graphics
  • Tons of exploration
  • Extensive campaign
  • Fun multiplayer

Negatives:

  • Story isn’t compelling

Campaign:  The campaign is quite extensive with an interesting story, awesome characters, and a deep setting. The story is divided into two intertwined halves, one set in the Golden Age of Piracy, players take control of Welsh pirate Edward Kenway, who stumbles upon the centuries-old Assassin/Templar conflict. The other set in present-day, following a worker at Abstergo who is viewing Kenway’s adventures through the genetic memory of his recently deceased descendant, Desmond Miles.  The story is pretty sweet, highly immersive, and engaging but there isn’t really a compelling component to it.  There are a number of really good characters such as Edward “Blackbeard” Thatch, Benjamin Hornigold, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read.  Especially Mary Read.  She was pretty awesome.  (4 out of 5)

Gameplay:  The gameplay is just awesome borrowing elements from previous titles while introducing new ones.  Players can transverse the landscape in the traditional Assassin’s Creed style, while also the high seas in the ship the Jackdaw, which is upgradeable. The sea combat allows players to battle other ships, utilizing cannons (close combat), mortars (long distance), firebarrels (if players are being pursued), or even ramming (extremely close quarters). The sword combat flows smoothly with few glitches. Each island has its own world; animals that can be hunted, treasures to be found, high points to reach for synchronization, or any additional side-quests.  (4 out of 5)

Graphics: Visually the game does look really good. The shading and color schemes give the environment a vibrant, tropical look. The attention to detail when it comes to the ocean deserves praise. Everything has  a good deal of detail making it look that much more realistic.   The cinematics are decent but nothing really special.  There is some lag but they are so few and far between that they are hardly noticeable.  The world feels active; people converse and walk in the cities, animals are seen in the wilderness, the weather changes, and enemy ships of various factions will fight each other. (4 out of 5)

Score:  Every aspect of the score is to be commended. The sound effects are just fantastic.  Whether players are in a town, jungle, or on the open seas the world just sounds great helping to give a more immersive experience; animals can be heard, the ocean sounds like the ocean.  The music is great. Some themes having a tribalistic feel while others have this tropical with the long drawn out string instrumentals. The voice performances definitely deserve a thumbs up.  (4 out of 5)

Replay Value: The world of Black Flag is vast and the high seas can be hard and treacherous.  Fortunately for gamers this gives players plenty of time to explore the various islands that feature atolls, sea forts (which players can lay siege to and capture), caverns, sugar plantations, Mayan ruins, and underwater shipwrecks that riddle the Caribbean. Players can even take the time out to seek out and hunt animals (whether they be on land or in the sea).  Players can even take on the assassinations and naval contracts which can be challenging depending on the situation. Players can also engage in the multiplayer which is pretty fun although it is restricted to only land-based gameplay.  Easily one of the biggest missteps in the multiplayer is the lack of sea combat. (4 out of 5)


The Verdict: In the end, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a straight up awesome game and a great addition to the Assassin’s Creed series.  For the very few issues that the game has, they are completely overshadowed by the sheer number of good that the game has.  A good story, great characters, great score, good voice performances, awesome combat system, great visuals, a lot of gameplay time, and a vast open world give Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag 4 out of 5.  Fans of the previous entries will definitely feel at home here.

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