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Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag Review

by Diogo Miguel January 22, 2014

There is no denying that Assassin’s Creed has earned the right to become as popular as blockbusters such as Call of Duty. 2013’s iteration didn’t review so well but yet it still sold extremely well. Will the latest adventure, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, in the eternal conflict between Assassins and Templars manage to impress?

Those that paid close attention whilst playing through Assassin’s Creed 3 will no doubt have noticed a certain Captain Edward Kenway being mentioned. The story for Assassin’s Creed 4 follows his biggest adventure as he finds himself caught in the middle of the conflict between Assassins and Templars.

The scurvy pirate himself is initially more interested in earning a fortune quickly. It’s this goal that sets various events within Assassin’s Creed 4 in motion. As it’s all made possible via the use of the Animus, which is the technology used to view memories from the lives of past assassins.

Kenway’s story is one that is familiar given his eventual change of heart over the course of the story, but it is still interesting to find out the fierce pirate first mention in the third game. It’s the typical anti-hero turned good guy story that ties up any questions to do with the Kenway lineage.

As expected for a pirate adventure, most of it takes place in the high sea. Kenway even has his own ship at his disposal. At first it’s exciting to sail the sea and explore everything it has to offer. Although this does become fairly monotonous for a while given the initial tasks that the player must complete, which are aimed at showing how the ship mechanics work.

For some sailing the sea will probably give them a rush that comes from the freedom given to explore it. Others might have wished there was an option to fast travel at any point in the game – even more so given the distance between some of the locations where missions are completed.

Naval battles however are just as memorable as the few found in Assassin’s Creed 3. In fact, the addition of sudden changes in the weather make for even better naval battles. There’s even upgrades to ensure that Kenway’s ship can go up against increasingly tougher enemy ships.

Moving the ship is very simple given the use of different speeds to match various situations. Going faster will mean being able to dodge enemy attacks, but makes it difficult to turn. There is no denying that the ship is implemented really well. Pillaging other ships and exploring is the way of a pirate’s life and that is just what players can expect from Assassin’s Creed 4.

Once on land, combat is fairly similar to that found in the third instalment. The character has access to ranged and close combat weapons – such as guns and swords. His assassin special abilities are somewhat limited though. For example, eagle vision works best when walking slowly.

There is much to explore in each of the islands scattered all over the big blue ocean. Those that wish to do so can also partake in various activities, that although not essential to the main story, are still worth doing. Side missions and such are the typical Assassin’s Creed experience with a Caribbean twist(going hunting for sharks and so on).

Every once in a while, a puzzle pops up and it’s a fun escape from the usual sea adventures. This is a perfect example of the team getting better at knowing what works with each new instalment.

Those pesky stealth missions are back and as usual it’s game over if the character is detected. The use of carefully placed checkpoints and better cover areas makes it less frustrating.

There is plenty of attention to detail when it comes to the places being visited. Perhaps it’s the completely different setting that makes for an interesting new adventure. Although it does feel less like the typical Assassin’s Creed experience and more like a standalone adventure at times.

As usual, it’s necessary to leap back to the in-game present to complete some tasks as the character using the Animus. It’s interesting though since not much information on the character is given unlike the previous Animus user, Desmond. This makes it possible for the player to focus more on Kenway’s story.

The multi-player side has a lot of improvements and continues to get better in every aspect. Although it is likely that those who have been into it since it was introduced in Brotherhood will enjoy it far more.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag truly feels like a breath of fresh air for a series that is still so popular worldwide. At least it proves that there is still a reason for new iterations to come out every year.

Perhaps it’s the lure of the pirate life but there is no denying that it has been a while since an Assassin’s Creed has been this interesting. Or maybe the real secret behind its success is the fact that Kenway’s crew are such good singers.

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