Sea shanties, assassinations, and treasures aplenty.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a great sequel to the series that has brought more focus to the openness of the world and improved upon many of the shortcomings of its predecessor . The world is as expansive and beautiful as ever, and there are plenty of swashbuckling shennanigans to get into. I spent countless hours sailing aimlessly discovering new locations to explore, ships to bombard with cannon fire, and hidden caves with treasure to plunder.
You play as Edward Kenway, an aspiring privateer turned pirate and grandfather to Connor Kenway (Assassin’s Creed 3), who wants nothing but fame and fortune. It’s a large departure from other protagonists in the series as Edward Kenway appears to have a much different definition of the Assassin’s Creed motto, “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” He takes without remorse, and dispatches anyone who stands in his way. Seemed to me that he should’ve been in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie instead yelling, “Take what you can. Give nothing back!”
As you start up the game, you’re thrown right into the thick of a sea battle. The opening mission is satisfyingly intense and just a small shred of what the game has to offer. After the introduction, the entire world becomes available and beckons you to explore its vast uncharted waters. This is where the game is at its best. It’s the Golden Age of piracy: you get to do piratey things, from treasure hunting to plundering, and meet infamous names like Blackbeard and Anne Bonny. The fighting system has seen some improvements with the addition of duel-wielding swords and 4 pistols, and the stealth attacks are still fun to pull off. But, it was tough to jump into this game after recently fighting baddies with Batman: Arkham Origins’ free-flow combo system. The controls aren’t as fluid or responsive, but still decent nonetheless.
The storyline of AC4 leaves a lot to be desired. It seems forced in order to make the pirate theme work. My gripes are minor, but it didn’t make much sense to have assassination contracts or templar hunt missions available so early in the game, especially since Kenway does not fully understand what each faction is about. Why is he so skilled at killing and able to scale walls with the best of them even though he is not an assassin? Inconsistencies like this took me out of the story right away.
In the present day, you play as an Abstergo employee conducting research into the life of Edward Kenway for a new entertainment product. In true Assassin’s Creed fashion, you’ll find yourself knee deep in some corporate espionage, uncovering some details about what’s currently going on after the events of Assassin’s Creed III. The best part of being outside of the Animus is finding hints of what could be possible in the future of the series.
Verdict – Bootylicious
Despite the lackluster storyline, the open seas of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag provided me with countless hours of fun gameplay and is the best of the series. At no point during my time with the game was there a shortage of things to do. Grab some ale, select your favorite sea shanty, and set sail for the open seas. Wenches not included.