07 Nov 2013
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Assassins Creed sets sail in Black Flag

By David Williams

With Assassins Creed IV becoming the fifth Assassins Creed game in the last five years, you would be forgiven for thinking Ubisoft had lost their minds and left the production belt running.

Whilst some of the previous instalments have gained notoriety for being mere expansion packs masquerading as new games and offering little variation to the title before, Black Flag has cast off these shackles and sees the game take to the seas, offering a wave of change to the series that hasn’t been seen since Assassins Creed III.

In case you were curious and haven’t yet played the game – the latest title has removed some of the last games’ flaws which annoyed us so much, decided to keep a few and then add a new bunch. Whilst at the same time still keeping true to the gameplay that makes Assassins Creed what it is.

There are no major shocks or upheavals with Black Flag and many fans of the series now know what to expect from new instalments of the series, although it remains similar it is still a thoroughly enjoyable ride.

It’s a case déjà vu, as you effortlessly run and jump across buildings, climb towers to view the horizon and assassinate your enemies. One new addition is the introduction of a blowpipe that will send enemies to sleep or make them go a bit crazy. You can also ‘stealth swim’ in this game, which allows you to ghost past your enemies by swimming under water.

There are other tweaks to help aid your stealth tactics in the game, but I feel there is little to convert a gamer who is not already a fan of the series.

Assassins Creed IV does have a trump card up its sleeve over other entries and that has to be the variation of locations within the game. The scenery changes almost instantaneously and you can go from jungle, to pirate cove, to beach in no time at all.

This variation has been used well in certain levels and the story and locations flow well together and make the tasks at hand seem new and varied. However this can’t last forever and some levels are tedious and seem rigid, which led to frustration and boredom for my-self. The AI in the game is possibly the most frustrating point in this game, as there are levels were alerting your enemies in stealth mode results in you having to reply the level again until you are perfect – but you can rustle about within bushes as much as you want with your head clearly visible and this does not sound an alert as suspicious behaviour.

Rant aside, there are plenty of enjoyable aspects to the game such as running through the jungle and taking out unsuspecting enemies without breaking stride is particularly enjoyable.

Black Flag seems to use the naval navigation from Assassins Creed III along with a few new tweaks and enhancements which enables it to form a large aspect of the game. The sailing and shooting are the most notable improvements here along with the addition of a variety of tasks at sea. When not on a task exploring the open sea, islands and plundering other ships is great.

Attacking a ship is a great part of this game and once you’ve inflicted enough damage on your enemy you can jump across and take out your enemies. This is great the first handful of times, but see battles can become tedious and quite repetitive with all fights feeling the same.

The biggest flaw seems to be when you start the game as an already good pirate there is no emphasis to improve and this is followed with the feared Black Beard, who is your best friend. You do not have to work your way up the ranks and gain his trust in the game. Also after about an hour you’re given a loyal crew, oh, and a new ship to go with it. One plus side to this is you can upgrade your ship.

Overall the game is a good addition to the series and has removed a lot of the flaws from the last Assassins Creed. Edward Kenny is by far a better lead character and the cast in this game seem to stand up to the test with the inclusion of a host of well-known pirates. Taking to the seas is awesome fun that everyone will enjoy and this is probably the best Assassins Creed in terms of variety and if you can overlook some of the flaws you’ll enjoy this game immensely.

The game is not perfect but then again is there an Assassins Creed that is?

Overall 7.5 out of 10

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