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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Xbox 360

ac4

Platform:  Xbox 360images (1)

Developer: Ubisoft Montrea

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release Date:
October 29, 2013

Genre: Action-AdventureStealth

Nerd Rating:7.5 out 10

Reviewed by Shadow Links

Ubisoft comes back yet again with it hit series Assassins Creed. In its 6th console game and the 4th era and antagonist, we hit the high seas in the Carribean with the privateer turned pirate-assassin Edward Kenway.

Story

Anyone familiar wit the assassins creed series understands that there are 2 plots in every title. One take place in the Past and one in the present with the descendant Desmond Miles. The concept behind this is that memories of your ancestors is coded in your DNA and through a device called the Animus you can relive those memories. Now here is a spoiler for those who have not played AC3. Desmond Miles, the character we always played as, is dead. So where do we go now? After a short stint in the Animus, the dive is completed and out steps a new character.

Stepping into some new shoes and a new perspective.

Stepping into some new shoes and a new perspective.

With no name and no features since the view is first person, I assume that it its meant to be you. You are now working for Abstergo Industries, a section of Abstergo that makes video games. Already a hit with a game called Assassins Creed Liberation, they continue to look for new footage in DNA memories recovered from Desmond Miles with your team working on gathering footage for a pirate themed game. And yes Liberation is the Playstation Vita title that was paired with Assassins Creed 3. While i’m fairly sure that the plot of Liberation isn’t necessary for the game, you may be happy to hear that it is being released in HD form in January on PSN. The form of present day missions isn’t much different from previous games since about every 3 sequences you eject and do something that expands the plot in the office. Inconveniently it seems that full completion outside the animus rewards you with very little.

Well, dont need these

Well, dont need these

In the second plot it is the 15th century in the Caribbean as you follow a young privateer turned pirate Edward Kenway, as he gets swept up in the Assassin vs Templar war. Unlike AC3 the story moves at a quick pace spends little time in tutorial sequences and other fluff before being able to fully use most of your abilities. Edward as a character is also a departure from previous protagonists as he is a simple young man with money on his mind. No thoughts of revenge, redemption, or liberation….unless it relates to him amassing a fortune to bring home to his girlfriend and their “its complicated” relationship. While perhaps it doesn’t bring a lot of depth and leaves him predictable it was somewhat refreshing particularly since he isn’t part of the brotherhood for a significant part of the game. In fact when he first comes across hidden blades, he throws them away without a thought. Overall the storyline wasn’t the best aspect in this title since the continuity between main missions was poor and when it wasn’t your probably had spent the last few hours doing an abundance of side-quests or exploration and gathering.

Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag - AC4 7 - 2013-12-04 01-17-17

Optional objectives for full sync return. Also shows new rating system.

In terms of gameplay elements there were a few nice improvements made, but more are still needed and require more creativity. The weapon wheels which stopped combat before have been replaced with a quick sliding menu with the D-pad which significantly improved combat flow, but was hampered by the limits of what could effect certain enemy types. Piloting your ship, The Jackdaw, is expectedly cumbersome as it is a moderately large ship, but not to difficult to master and it has an abundance of upgrades to improve battle capabilities. In ship battles, broadsides, mortars, chain balls, and mines are all at disposal to sink or board other ships for loot to continue upgrading. These still however manage to quickly lose my interest since boarding ships just required you to kill a number of crew, captains, blow up gunpowder, or cut the flag leaving very little room for changing an event you will experience countless times. For these battles you have to build a crew by helping pirates on land or picking up random people in the sea. However, these just fill up a gauge that roughly gives you more time to complete objectives when boarding other vessels. I would have really liked to put faces on the crew just like how in previous titles had unique assassin apprentices you recruited and at least maybe have some affection for them. The sea itself was somewhat interesting and a significant improvement over the widerness of AC3 and the original AC with little pointless wander, many uncharted areas to explore, forts to take over, ships to fight, sea beasts to hunt, and storms to survive. On land, missions still lack variety and are typically the same as previous games with tailing, eavesdropping, assassinations, or brawls. While it may be difficult to create new types, I can’t keep doing the same things and call it progress.Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag - AC4 2 - 2013-12-04 01-21-07

Back in the present, things have gotten a little weird beyond not playing as Desmond and working for Abstergo. The odd 1st person perspective from AC:Revelation’s small memory pillar segments somewhat returns rather than the 3rd person perspective we are used to. You carry a PDA that is everything you need: a map, objectives screen, and extra info is stored on it. At certain points in the game you can walk around and d 2 things: hack computers and find sticky notes. Both give extra info pertaining to the current situation as well as a bit of mystery and other Abstergo findings. The computer hacking minigames are half-baked puzzles and mini-games that make me long for the difficult and imaginative puzzles of the old glyphs in previous games.

To describe them simply: one is frogger, another is a math multiplier puzzle, and the other is at least a clever sliding ice puzzle but is on a rotating sphere. Solving all the puzzles and finding all the notes grants you nothing more than a thank you blurb and a view of an odd design. Maybe trying to decipher that will entertain me more.

I did get around to playing a little multiplayer which I have always enjoyed in the series. Wanted and Manhunt remain my favorite modes and an improved Wolfpack mode has returned. For those unfamiliar with the game, Wanted is kind of similar to a FFA where you hunt a target player while needing to stay aware that you are being hunted as well. Sometimes by multiple people if you are the top player. Manhunt consists of 2 teams of 4, and take turns being the hunters and the hunted. Various types of kill amount points as well as stunning your pursuer and hiding in manhunt. While it isn’t a difficult game to pick up, it will take time to learn abilities, recognize your prey, understanding how to use the compass, and listening for when an enemy is close. Matches are always different and exciting.

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

While I was much happier with this entry in the series compared to AC3 since i at least felt somewhat like an assassin and saw some gamplay improvements, there are just a lot of annoyances that still remain. The present day made a change to become more relevant, yet made no advancement in the story, and lacked the depth of similar elements present in previous games. Certain elements such as assassin contracts were available very early without explanation while others where available way too late like the rope dart which besides being confusing, played havoc on the story progression which already had difficulties.  Still, being a triple A game means that it still is a quality game with great visuals and I never noticed any frame rate issues. Anybody who wants to step into the shoes of a pirate will certain enjoy the game.

Written by Nerd Bacon

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  1. Pingback: Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD - PlayStation 3 - Nerd Bacon Reviews

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