The year was 2007 when Assassin’s Creed first came to our consoles. It was a novel idea, and though there were flaws to be ironed out within successive titles, it was met with critical acclaim from many sources. Fans were eager to see where and when in the world we would be taken next, and weren’t disappointed with the introduction of Ezio in Assassin’s Creed II, and its follow up titles Brotherhood and Revelations. Connor might not have been the most interesting character in Assassin’s Creed III, but it was still a solid and engaging title, and so fans waited with bated breath to see what the new, and next generation ready, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag would have in store for us. It’s a game that has received high praise almost across the board from critics and gamers alike, but what does it really offer? Is this a title worth getting for your Xbox One?
Unlike most of the Assassin’s Creed games which have jumped dramatically from era to era, Black Flag is a closer historical prequel to its predecessor. The protagonist, Edward Kenway, is the grandfather of Ratonhnhaké:ton, or Connor as he’s better known, who was the lead in AC3. The game is once again split between the historical aspect and modern day gameplay, which follows directly from the events at the close of the previous title in the series. Unlike the slightly too perfect Connor, Kenway is significantly rougher around the edges as a pirate, who is unwittingly drawn into the ongoing war between the Assassins and the Templars.
Naval warfare was one of the most praised elements of AC3, so it’s unsurprising that you’ll spend significant time at sea within Black Flag. There is much to do and control of your ship is a fluid and intuitive process making sailing enjoyable whether you’re simply exploring the plethora of accessible islands within the Caribbean setting, or engaging in combat with another ship or a sea fort. Kenway can leave his boat at any time, assuming you’re not in the midst of a fight or a storm, simply jumping off to explore an item of interest or to go diving in select areas of the map. Once you are on foot you’ll find the controls relatively similar to Assassin’s Creed III, especially in combat where you’ll have the ability to block, attack, counterattack, and break the defense of your attackers. One thing that you will find different however is your limited arsenal; you’ll be limited to swords, pistols, a blowgun and, of course, the Hidden Blades for the majority of the game.
The tutorial section of AC4 is mercifully shorter than that in other games so you’ll soon be fully absorbed into exploring the vast and beautiful world, and following the story and the multitude of side quests that will keep you occupied for hours. Bugs are few and far between, and many elements have been subtly tightened up for an improved experience all round. You can even take the game off the console and onto your tablet or smartphone, with a companion app that means you can keep an eye on the Animus database, play sea shanties to your hearts content and track your progress in game, in real time. Though there’s nothing in the app that you can’t access within the game, it can still be handy to have a second screen to keep an eye on what’s going on.
Once you’ve made your way through the main story and completed everything within the game there’s still more for you to do, as Ubisoft is releasing downloadable content for the game. The add-on ‘Freedom Cry’ is a bonus campaign made up of an additional nine missions and focusing on the first mate of Edward Kenway, Adewale. Continuing Ubisoft’s trend of paid DLC content, this won’t be a free addition but will require purchase in the form of the Season Pass, or through individual purchase after the release date. If not for the gameplay itself, it may be tempting to play Freedom Cry for the hints that it’s supposed to include about where and when the franchise will take us next.
With a vast world to explore, a plot that seamlessly blends the past with the present, absolutely stunning graphics (especially on next gen consoles) and much, much more, this is certainly a game that will keep you entertained and occupied for many an hour.
Have you lost yourself in the world of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag yet? Why not describe your experience in the comments below.
Final Score: 9/10
Article by - Rebecca Waterman
Insert Date: 12/13/2013