Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Review
Follow Genre: Historical Action Adventure
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U,
PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Review

Site Score
9.1
Good: Great story and gameplay, superb sound
Bad: Subtitles with capital letters
User Score
9.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Ahoy matey! Here we are with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Hoist the flags, prepare the cannons and sharpen your blades for some mindblowing naval battles and stealthy assassinations.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag header

Story

The Assassin’s Creed – franchise is well-known for its deep storyline during several historical eras. The battle between the Templars and the Assassins keeps raging and this time, we’re taken back to 1715. This century is like the Golden Age for pirates as they are ruling the Caribbean seas. These bandits were capable of paralyzing several navies and incorporating the international trade. Pirates could multitask as well, because next to the mentioned activities, they had time to plunder the rich.

The game revolves around Edward Kenway. This fearsome but cocky young captain and pirate has a thirst for money and fame so he can return home as a wealthy and respected man. This vision of life has something to do with a woman  – naturally – but you’ll have to find out the details while playing. Captain Edward isn’t the only important pirate around though, there are others worth mentioning as well, like Blackbeard and Calico Jack. At the beginning of the game, you almost get murdered by an assassin but your skills prevail. When you change clothes with your assailant, you get thrown into an ancient conflict which might be the downfall of the pirates.

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Graphics

It was quite hard to evaluate the graphics in this game because the quality is … hard to assess. When you roam the world and sail your ship, the graphics seem really fine. Even when you gaze at the horizon or synchronize your environment, the scenery seems very detailed and decently finished. These beautiful graphics change when you’re going in close up or when you get a cutscene.  The faces of the characters are far from finished and seem kind of angular. There don’t seem to be a lot of facial expressions and when there are, they lack the power of really transferring the feeling.

Next to the quality of the graphics, you can feel that the developers did their best to reconstruct an adequate and lifelike world. This really gives you the feeling that you’ve been teleported back to the 18th century. If you want to get back to this time, just leave your Animus and enjoy the modern en tight style the Abstergo Industries building offers.

Sound

The music in Assassins Creed IV is plainly said: marvellous. Each specific area has its own track but the tune changes when you’re in danger of when you’re doing a stealthy mission. This gives quite some variation while playing and you’ll never get bored. The voice overs are decently done as well and each voice really fits the character.

Another addition to the game are the several sound effects. When you’re fighting with your enemies, you can hear blades cling, shots being fired and your slain enemies die in pain. If you’re entering a ship, your crew follows and you get fired on by just hearing them fight. Sailing the seas is a joy as well: the sound of waves crashing into the ship, the seagulls flying by and the songs of your crew reverberating across the deck.

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Gameplay

Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag is a historical action-adventure game with a lot of free roaming possibilities. The new aspect of this game is the exploration of the seven seas with your fleet. The story is told by completing main missions. This can be as Edward Kenway in the Animus or as – uhm – yourself in the Abstergo Industries building. Your capabilities extend DNA research, next to piracy, others will ask you to hack into computers and get data from Abstergo. You’ll learn that in time. One ability you have from the start, is the Eagle’s Eye. This option grants you the possibility to target and lock on to a maximum of ten ‘enemies’.

The game also contains several side missions. If you ever feel like you want to do something else, just complete an assassination and earn some money. Or you could go on a safari on the numerous isles and hunt for some rare animals. This gives you some extra possibilities, but I’ll come back to that later. You can also try and find all the lost treasures and fragments scattered across the different cities and lost islands. As you can see, you won’t get bored for quite a while. This game is the biggest one from the series with around 50 unique locations.

The hunting for animals isn’t only good for some distraction of the main story, but also for getting several ingredients to make your own items and upgrades. You can increase your health and make new ammo pouches for example so you have an advantage in battle. If you don’t feel like spending time on killing animals, you can also buy the hides at the local store. Same goes for your wardrobe. Changing clothes might be fun to do and there is quite an offer available. Shame you can’t make them yourself, although it would probably blast your reputation to smithereens.

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Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag is mostly popular for the addition of ships and naval battles. This gives a nice twist to the game. The controls are very easy and every gamer will be a captain in no time. Although having an own ship is nice, you’ll also need to have a crew and maintain the fleet. Well, these problems can be solved by recruiting sailors in taverns or from the commandeered enemy vessel. Maintaining and improving your fleet asks for constructing materials. You can find these on the mentioned confiscated ships or they can be floating around on the waves. Long live fishing garbage out of the sea!

When you think the possibilities are almost ended, think again! You’ll even get an own isle to explore and develop. You might call this your home base even, as you can always return here to get some new crew members or just to chillax for a bit.

The game also gives you the chance to take over some trading routes. This is a nice feature, because you can deploy some ships of your fleet on some missions, while you continue exploring the seas and killing enemies. For the gamers interested in this aspect, there is even better news. Ubisoft developed a ‘companion app’. This app can be installed on your tablet and is an extra asset for the game. With this app, you’ll have an interactive world map, the Animus Database, the trading routes and the option to check treasure maps on a second screen. A cheer for modern technology!

We’ve discussed the single player mostly, but you’ll have some fun on the multiplayer modus as well.  You get the chance to do some co-op missions or you can test your skills against other pirates. There are several game modes like ‘Deathmatch’ or ‘Assassinate’, but also more tactical modes like ‘Artifact Assault’ or ‘Domination’. Some of the titles are straight forward, but if you need any help with the game modes or with you character, you can always take a look in the Game Lab. This Lab is newly added and gives you the possibility to change about 200 parameters of your charachter. The sky is the limit I would say.

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I have to admit I had quite some troubles getting into a decent online game, because I sometimes was kicked out of a game due to connection problems. The times I did manage to access an online match, the gameplay was awesome and actually really thrilling.

There is a small negative point in the game though. When you put on the subtitles in English, the text contains several words that start with a capital letter. It might be okay at the start, but it gets quite annoying after a while.

Conclusion

Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag is a really nice and solid game that makes you wish you were Edward Kenway yourself. The graphics from close by are sometimes angular but the environments and faraway gazes makes up for this. The sound is spectacular and is a real addition to the game, but the most fun part is the gameplay. There are so much possibilities and facets that you won’t get bored soon. The only thing I can say is: buckle up and get ready for some glory (and rum!).

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Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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