Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013) Review

Posted: July 26, 2015 in Console Games, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Rating:
EU Release Date: Oct 29, 2013 (for Xbox 360)
Total play time: 55:00:00 (100% Single Player)

Black Flag Cover ArtI can’t think of many things that would make this game better. Pirates, swords, an awesome soundtrack… this game has it all.

You play as Edward Kenway, a privateer-come-pirate with dreams of prizes, plunder and adventure. Along the route, you meet with a number of famous characters from history (as you would expect from an Assassin’s Creed game), including some of the best known pirates of the age. And, even better, it’s not all generic Hollywood pirates with the tired, clichéd phrases (although there is a cheat for that). What I probably love most about this game is that, with the exception Kenway himself, all of the pirates actually resemble their real life counterparts – Blackbeard’s showmanship, Black Bart’s love of fine clothing, Charles Vane’s cruelty… Sure, there were a few inaccuracies, but it all made for a good story and isn’t that what really matters?

One interesting aspect of this game is the fact that you’re not really an Assassin for most of the time you’re playing. You begin by pretending to be one to get in with some Templars and then pretend to be a Templar for a few minutes to find some treasure. For the rest of the game, you’re a free agent – no friend of the Templars but certainly not one of the Assassins. It’s only right near the end that Kenway realises it’s time to grow up and find something worthwhile to fight for.

Screenshot

Because who wouldn’t want to hug a shark?

As with most of the Assassin’s Creed games, there’s a lot of stuff to collect. Unlike most others, you can dive underwater and explore shipwrecks and cenotes. You also get to fight sharks, be bitten by eels, stung by jellyfish and anemones and drown in caves, which is all good fun. The underwater aspect is certainly new and interesting, but it can be a little disorienting when in dark corners of sunken ships.

Of course, there’s still a lot of missions on land – people to follow undetected, assassinations to complete (because, despite not being an assassin, they’ll still pay you) and animals to hunt. You can infiltrate and take over forts and then use their defences to damage ships whilst sailing close by, combining land and sea tactics.

The animations in combat are pretty cool too, changing frequently depending on the scenario in which an attack is performed. Not only can Kenway perform a variety of cuts and thrusts with his swords, he can also kick or even throw enemies from ledges, slam them against walls or knee them in the ‘nads. If you’ve got the pistol swords, the animations become even cooler – so it’s well worth completing the assassin contracts for the reward.

Screenshot

Boarding ships for fun and profit.

For me, the music really sets this game off. The Black Flag theme is one of the best themes for any game I’ve played recently – and I tend to love the music in most games. There are three or four different versions of the soundtrack available for this game with a mixture of sea shanties that you find as collectibles (some of them are seriously catchy) and the general background music. Even without having played the game, the soundtrack is awesome.

If you’ve never played Assassin’s Creed before, give this one a try. If you love pirates, you’ll love this game. If you like Assassin’s Creed, you’ll like this. To be honest, if you like action or role-playing games at all, it’s certainly worth a punt. It’s one of my favourite games this year.

See also: Initial Thoughts – Black Flag

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