Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Review

20130904164224!Assassin's_Creed_IV_Black_FlagI finished up my 100% Assassin’s Creed IV play though this week. It always amazes me how much fun I have with these games. This one in particular though is based around the Golden Age of Pirates in the Caribbean in the early 1700’s. It’s a time I have found fascinating since I first read about it at eight years old and started building pirate ships with my Lego’s. The games protagonist is Edward Kenway, Connor’s grandfather. I have found Edward’s character much more likeable than his grandson, and the game has felt all the better for it. While Connor would learn about all the things that were going on, but would still turn a blind eye except where it would concern his small village, Edward slowly grows over the game from a classic pirate interested only in lining his pockets, into a full fledged Assassin ready to stop the Templar’s at every turn.

One question still remains however. How does the son of an influential Pirate and Assassin become the Grand Master of the Templar Order? Haythem has been a question mark since the end of sequence III in ACIII when it was revealed he was in fact a Templar, and not an Assassin as he appeared. I am hopeful the games will expand more into Edwards timeline like they did with Ezio’s to give us a better picture of how this occurred. Also because I really like the time period.

Ship combat was introduced in III and is obviously back in Black Flag. However, in III ship combat was limited to specific missions. In Black Flag the over-world is basically the Caribbean Sea which you can sail around at your discretion. The map is alive with it’s own events, and you will find many merchant and military vessels sailing that can all be taken and plundered. It is almost a game of it’s own, and you could easily spend hour and hours just sailing the world taking ships as your own and increasing your fleet, money, crew, and materials.

Much like in III, your stock ship is painfully weak, and it makes some of the early naval missions somewhat frustrating. However, by the time the ship is fully upgraded you become an unstoppable juggernaut taking down level 60 man-o-war vessels without breaking a sweat. It makes sailing around the world, and doing the naval missions much more fun.

As always however, I still prefer the assassin style missions to the naval missions, and there is still plenty of that in the game. The story line this time around is the first since Desmond’s death, and you play an unnamed video game developer in the present day using Animus technology to view Desmond’s ancestors for possible video game ideas. You work for “Abstergo Entertainment” but most of the employees don’t seem to have any knowledge that they are in fact working for the Templar’s. It’s easy to see in company memo’s however that they are not interested in “Assassin Propaganda.” The brilliance on Ubisoft’s part is that they have broken the need for a direct ancestor now, and can use this to explore literally any figure from any time. The history buff in me is ecstatic with the possibilities, and I am eager to see what comes next.

Overall I found the game to be very enjoyable, and as always it exceeded my expectations. The only problem I face now that it is done is trying to play other games. I was playing Batman: Arkham Origins prior to the game releasing, and when I tried to go back to it all I could think was “oh, this isn’t as fun as Assassin’s Creed.” Ultimately however, it has me eagerly anticipating the games DLC, and future titles.