Let me start off by saying despite the fact that this is my favorite game franchise, the series constantly goes up and down. Assassins Creed 1 is good with a fantastic ending, Assassins Creed 2 is incredible, Assassins Creed Brotherhood is somehow better and one of the best games ever made, Revelations was a drop in some cases, 3 was a huge letdown (though it can still be enjoyed) 3’s DLC is utterly fantastic, and Assassin’s Creed 4:Black Flag? Somewhere near or above Assassin’s Creed 2. Let me explain:
Presentation: As good as it really looks?
The marketing for Assassin’s Creed games is either over or underselling the product. Thankfully, in this case, it’s better than it looks. Rather than hold your hand for the first half of the game like 3 did, Black Flag throws you immediately into the action, and slowly introduces familiar and new concepts alike. The brilliant part however? It never feels like anything in the game is forced upon you. Once you beat the first mission, the entire world is open to explore, and with just enough content to keep you busy until you progress further. So if you want to run around and kill people right from the get-go that’s possible. I ran the game on a PS4, so the visuals were stunning. I’ve heard on current-gen there is a huge drop in quality, but from what I’ve actually seen the difference is fairly minimal. The commercials and articles from other gaming sites truly fail to describe the fun of the game. The ability to rate memories especially is a great way to see how to improve the ups and the downs of the franchise. However, this game doesn’t come without a fair share of flaws either.
Presentation gets an 8.5/10
In terms of present-day, the storyline takes place a year after the events of AC3. Rather than play as Desmond however, you play as…well, yourself. Which is a little weird, but explains the first-person aspect. “You” is a new employee working at Abstergo researching different ancestors for future Abstergo Entertainment video games. The story in the modern-day definitely clears up a couple issues, and has some surprising twists that only players who start from AC2 onwards will understand. The whole present-day experience is a general nod to longtime fans, but more on that later.
Modern Day storyline get’s an 8/10
Edward’s story is at first a little ho-hum. The basic idea is that from the start of the game is that he unknowingly kills a member of the Assassin order, and starts a chain of events only he can fix. There’s some intriguing new backstory into the First Civilization, but the problem with the narrative is that Edward is just unlikable at first. That changes significantly as the story progresses, and he actually ended up being one of my favorite protagonists yet. Near the end, he becomes an incredibly relatable character (at least to this writer) on a disturbing level, leading up to the third or second best ending I’ve seen in a videogame. So the cons? Edward leaves a bad impression at first and there’s very little focus on the Assassins in general, which is too bad because there could’ve been so much more to tell. It’s hard to describe without spoiling so I’ll just leave it at this; It’s a great story, just not a great Assassin’s Creed story.
Animus storyline gets an 8.5/10
Though the present-day storyline definitely raises more than a couple questions (Watch Dogs tie-in and possible return of…others?) in a good way, the initial impression might feel a little like a let-down. Once the game hits it’s stride though it only continues to get better.
Story overall is a 8.5/10
Next to Brotherhood, combat is at it’s best. Battles on land and sea are seamless yet ferocious. None of the weapons feel out of place and it feels very smooth. Though I do get concerned as to how many different ways there are to kill someone, this game never runs out of ideas. In terms of grounded combat, there are a couple different ways to use the environment, and all the weapons work well for any situation. The dual swords are an all around perfect weapon for any scenario, the hidden blades are perfect for a stealth encounter, the four pistols may sound ridiculous yet work perfectly, and the berzerk and sleep darts are great for combat and stealth. Basically, there’s nothing to complain about in terms of a one-man arsenal. Naval combat has improved greatly as well. There’s always a certain thrill when trying different weapons and tactics to take down some of the tougher opponents, and boarding a ship never feels old; rather, there’s different situations for different ships when boarding, and it’s always feels fresh. Though it does feel like it lacks a littlle of the charm it had in 3, it’s nonetheless a great way to pass time.
Combat gets a 9/10.
This has always been one of the most important features of an Assassins Creed game; and while it’s good in Black Flag, it certainly needs more improvement. The real problem is there’s just not enough of the best parts! For example, the Mayan Ruins are some of the most mysterious and exciting places to explore, yet I can’t help but feel as if there needs to be more of these, or at least more secrets. Sometimes it feels as if things are just too bland. Hunting treasure chests and animus fragments to no actual reward gets tiresome, especially when there’s not some sort of secret location payoff. The rewards for the collectibles are incredible however, so trust that the few good collectibles are worth the rewards. Side missions are decent but nothing wonderful; if anything they feel like they block the game from it’s true potential; there’s not much else to say otherwise on them except that if there were more secrets or more of a mystery involved, they’d be much more fun. The three main cities are mostly bland but that’s because the game encourages you to explore other locations instead, which is fine but the appeal of the best Assassin’s Creed games lies here. If the cities were as interesting as the other parts of the world this game would be vastly better. Modern day exploration is fun, and hacking computers/collecting sticky notes helps give a nice backstory on some other parts of the AC universe. There’s one or two really neat surprises that definitely point clues towards different locations for the games later on.
Exploration gets a 7.5/10
Missions; There’s not much to say here other than that each one does a good job of showing off a different element of gameplay so very few of them are dull, but rather have at least one sliver of originality to make it stand out from the previous mission. So yes, they’re usually fun and put a clever new spin on the usual Assassins Creed mission of tail, kill or eavesdrop fairly well.
Missions are an 8/10
Overall gameplay: 8/10
Multiplayer is better than before, improving upon previous gameplay mechanics and making each character and map feel unique. This half of the game will actually make you want to explore how to be both creative and learn the ins and outs of the current characters and maps. Pistols work incredibly well as a main weapon, and Wolfpack is at it’s best here. THe developers for the single player should seriously try and learn something from the people in charge of this section of the game, because it’s fantastic. Easily (and surprisingly) one of the best parts of the game and seriously something to check out.
Multiplayers an easy 9/10
Though nothing near it’s predecessors, it appears Black Flag is a great way to put Assassins Creed on the right track once more. If developers can recapture the majestic feel of the Ezio trilogy, there’s no doubt these games will seriously earn back the respect they’ve somewhat lost. This is one of those few games that can only get better the more you play it. Easily worth your money and time, this game’s a must have for any type of gamer. But for the record if you haven’t do play the entire Ezio trilogy, even Revelations. You might see where I’m coming from for most of this review.
Overall this game gets a 9/10.
Once again as a Disclaimer, I do not own any of the screenshots (though I will be uploading my own soon) and this was again done with little editing. Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article please share it with others! Thanks!