Assassin´s Creed IV: Black Flag Review
I'm just going to come right out and say it -- It's time for Ubisoft to ditch the modern day Animus storyline in its Assassin's Creed franchise. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag spends less time trying to bail out the convoluted tale of memories and modern technology and more time crafting a unique and fun world to explore - -and the result is a truly fun and often times thrilling experience. Long-time fans of the series may be disappointed, but Assassin's Creed hasn't played this well in years.
Black Flag tells the story of Edward Kenway, a pirate in the 18th century who may or may not also be a porn star. Kenway is shipwrecked and is eventually pulled into the conflict between the Templars and Assassin's that has continued through the course of Assassin's Creed run as a franchise. While the conflict is, at least in principle at the heart of Black Flag's story, but it's all but ignored here. The most time you'll have to spend in the modern day setting is no more than twenty minutes (and they are grueling) and the majority of the story deals with Kenway and his life as a would be assassin.
"...upgrade the Jackdaw with new weapons and crewmembers..."
The core gameplay of Black Flag is built mostly on the naval combat of Assassin's Creed 3. Built on a completely open-world, players will sail the seas, attempt to find treasure and build your reputation as one of the world's most dangerous pirates. Players will have unlimited access to Kenway's ship, the Jackdaw and can take it pretty much anywhere almost right away since the world of Black Flag opens up much sooner than it's predecessors. Throughout exploring you'll have the ability to upgrade the Jackdaw with new weapons and crewmembers but you're going to have to grind through missions to do so.
Luckily, there's a lot of things you can do in the world of Black Flag, so much so that the series' trademark assassination missions almost seem like an afterthought. While the world isn't as much alive as say GTA V's Los Santos but you can search for buried treasure, explore ancient ruins, cause a conflict between two nations, steal ships, plunder ships...the list keeps going. While some of these can feel like grinding (especially the huge amount of follow missions), I often found myself diverting from the game's main story to just sail around the seas and find adventure.
"...the entire experience feels much more fluid and manageable."
Assassin's Creed IV also improves on a number of the series gameplay mechanics and as a result the entire experience feels much more fluid and manageable. Traversing beams and rooftops feels a lot easier than it did in previous games, especially the most recent, even though there's not as much of a need for it here as in previous games.
Visually, Assassin's Creed IV is more of a mixed bag sincxe there are some framerate issues and a bit of pop-in, especially while you're out on the high seas, but there's no doubt that this is one of the best looking games of the series. Interestingly enough, the game looks it's best when you're out navigating the high seas. Because everything feels so open, you're always wondering what's around the next corner or what's on that island off in the distance, which makes for some amazingly fun adventure experiences.
I have a history of not liking Assassin's Creed games, but I had a great time with Black Flag. Maybe it's because it concerns itself less with the modern day story and more with creating a fun and (mostly) believable world to explore and play around in. A lot of the core gameplay mechanics have been improved but admittedly, not all - in fact, some suffer. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag may not be the next step in the franchise, but its clearly the best rounded.
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