Nerd Bacon is now on Flickr! Here's our chance to share awesome pictures with you guys: rare consoles, huge collections, and maybe a few other things you've never seen are in store. Visit Nerd Bacon @ Flickr now! And check back often as we continue to add new pics from our members!


Nerd Bacon is endeavoring to bring you more news than ever before! Visit our NEWS SECTION to stay up-to-date with the gaming world!


Bacon Bits

No updates in past 7 days!


Ever wanted to know what our senior members are up to in their spare time? Want to get to know our writers a little better? Then take a look at our brand new Bacon Bits: The Baconeer Blogs and see what they have to say!


MEMBERS AREA Updated August 1st.

 

Recent Posts

 
Navigation by WebRing.
 
 

Read a Random Nerd Bacon Article!

 

Sponsored Links

 

What's Shakin' at the Bacon

The WatchmanThe Watchman Owner
COO

Super Mario Odyssey is absolute joy! How is it that Nintendo has come back with two of the greatest games of all time, both in one year?
 

nerdberryNerdberry Owner
CEO

Hope everyone is safe during these hurricanes and wildfires! Irma and Harvey are total b-holes.
 

elder grapeVariand Owner
CIO

Framework and several plugins updated. Several issues fixed. Let me or other admins know if you find goofy stuff
 

InfiniteKnifeInfiniteKnife Twitch
Director

Thinking of doing a stream series soon. The theme: Retro games I never beat as a kid and want to try again. Thoughts?
 

Sign in to update your status
 

Recent Comments

  • Nips
    Nips: Many thanks! I would be really excited to see a sequel, or even a spiritual successor that might tackle a……
     
  • Roy Hartsell: I hope Carolina Pride doesn't stop curing their bacon the way they do. Lately their bacon has gone from raw……
     
  • Roy Hartsell: My bacon is starting to burn before it gets done. Smithfield must have bought them!!!…
     
  • Nerdberry
    Nerdberry: really excellent review Papa Nips! Probably your finest review too! This game does look awesome, and the 4 vinyl soundtrack……
     
  • Marie Stone: I tried this and had a complaint about uneven slices. Some were very thick while others were very thin, within……
     
  • Åskblad: Great and objective review, I like it! I'm not very fond of the mainstream Nintendo fanboyism, however you're entirely right;……
     
  • Rhutsczar
    Rhutsczar: The game is interesting, to say the least. Those little bastards can't help from accidentally killing themselves.…
     
  • Nerdberry
    Nerdberry: Hi Jeff. Thanks for reaching out! It's awesome to see other hardcore gamers out there JUST LIKE US!!! It makes……
     
 

Sponsored Links

 
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Xbox 360

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Xbox 360

CoverArtPlatform: Xbox 360
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Oct 29, 2013
Genre: Action/Adventure, Stealth
Nerd Rating: 8.5/10
Reviewed by: InfiniteKnife

Avast ye scurvy dogs!!! It’s time to talk about the latest installment of the Assassin’s Creedseries, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which, as you may have already figured out, is about flippin’ pirates! It was a logical step in the series as previous titles have taken us back to the Middle East during the crusades, the Italian Renaissance, Constantinople, and the American Revolution, so now we focus on the 18th century Caribbean during the height of the age of pirates. There has been a lot of pirate hype since the Pirates of the Caribbean films came out (thanks, Johnny Depp) and honestly, it is a part of what made this game particularly enjoyable for me, though pirates have always been fascinating, even before they became big on the silver screen.

In Assassin’s Creed, the formula works like this: part of the game takes place in modern day where your character (Desmond Miles in previous titles) is working with a team that is supporting the Assassins to help prevent the Templars from finding ancient artifacts that hold vast supernatural powers that they want to use to take over the world. It’s been an ongoing fight for thousands of years. A company called Abstergo developed a device called an animus, which allows a person to play back events of their ancestors through coding in their DNA. This is where the main gameplay comes in, as your animus sessions bring you into the lives of people who lived years ago and as we play through the campaign, the events stored in memories are revealed. Basically, the Templars want this information for bad reasons and the Assassins hope to find it to keep it away from the bad guys. Simple enough.

Pretty sweet workspace!

Pretty sweet workspace!

This installment is the first one in which our present day character is not Desmond Miles, but rather an unnamed employee of Abstergo in a company building. The idea is that you are a new employee who is placed into the animus to help get memory information so that Abstergo’s entertainment division can create new digital media like games and movies. We know, of course that this is all a big front for Absergo to find the artifacts they want to use for world domination.

When we enter the animus, we play through the life of Edward Kenway, a privateer from England who travels to the Caribbean to seek his fortune. He is the eventual father of Haytham Kenway and grandfather of Connor Kenway, both of whom are the main characters of Assassin’s Creed III. An interesting note about this is that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is the first in which you play in a time period prior to the game before it. It’s neat to be playing as an ancestor of a character in the series we’re already familiar with.

To quickly sum up, Edward is looking to make as much money as possible so he can retire early and live the high life with his wife he left back in England. In his early adventures, he ends up helping the Templars deal some major damage to the Assassins, resulting in many being killed. He doesn’t much care at first, but as the game progresses, he learns more about both factions and the artifacts they’re after and (as you might expect), sides with the Assassins. All of this happens during the course of a pretty long campaign full of lots of fun pirate activities in between.

As Edward’s story unfolds, there are interactions and missions that involve pirates that actually existed including Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Calico Jack, and Ben Hornigold. I thought this was a really neat inclusion as they fit the time periods and didn’t feel like a simple throw in. It added to the feeling you were seeing what really may have happened during the time period.

Edward rolls with badass company.

Edward rolls with badass company.

Fans of the series will have little trouble getting accustomed to the gameplay as it remains largely unchanged. The main weapons are your trusty hidden blade, dual rapiers, and flintlock pistols. In previous installments, there were other weapon types such as short swords, and there was an option to fight with a single blade or dual wield. There were times where I thought it might have been nice to add a bit more variety here, but the weapons you had did fit with the time period and I think that’s more important. There is a decent variety of each weapon available for purchase and unlock, but gaining money was not terribly difficult and I was able to purchase the best weapons relatively early on. Controls are simple and combat feels great. The ABXY buttons are context sensitive which means they perform different actions at different times. For example, the A button is used to push a guarding enemy to open them up for attack and can also be used to disarm one and allow you to kill them with their own weapon.

Not sure he sees the guy about to shoot him in the face.

Not sure he sees the guy about to shoot him in the face.

Items like smoke bombs and the ability to throw money return which help you get out of sticky situations where you’re being pursued by enemies. New additions include a rope dart that is used to pull enemies closer, making them easier to attack (it’s hard not to think of Scorpion’s iconic “Get Over Here” when using it) and string them up from trees. A blowgun is also available with darts that make enemies fall asleep or go berserk and attack other enemies.

Stealth is again a main gameplay staple as there are always bad guys hiding in well protected areas that need to be dispatched quietly. This formula is pretty much identical to previous games. As I played through the game, I found myself using the hidden blades solely for assassinations and the swords solely for other types of open combat, although you’re free to use any weapon at any time.

The missions were unfortunately, not very different than those of games past, as they were comprised of the following:

Assassinations:
You have to find a guy and take him out.
The problem I have always had with the series is that there are really only a couple ways these are executed. Either you enter a restricted area, avoiding contact with guards on high alert, or find the guy and a chase is initiated where you have to go after him, dodging and fighting guards until you catch him or he’s cornered. There’s not much variety other than that and it gets repetitive.

Eavesdrops:
You need to follow someone, staying within earshot, while avoiding detection.
These can be frustrating because while the game controls are good, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally jumped from a perch and landed right in front of the guy I’m tailing, thus failing the mission. Black Flag is pretty good about restart points, though, so there isn’t really any loss of 10+ minutes of progress due to a fail.

Rescues:
There will be times where you need to save groups of fellow pirates or assassins and they’re pretty similar to assassinations.
You go through a restricted area and have to take out enemies who usually have guns pointed at their captors before they kill their hostages.

There are sometimes a bit more to these mission types, but these are the primary ones and again, don’t offer a ton of variety.

Now, what pirate game would be complete without sailing on the open seas? Thankfully, we have that covered because Edward’s ship, the Jackdaw, is available pretty early on and is the primary means of transportation between the islands on the game map. Get ready, because a lot of time is spent at sea, but that’s ok because it’s a freaking blast!

Controls are simple. You have 3 speeds to travel in and turn with the control stick. Combat is really fun as pelting an enemy ship with cannon balls never got old for me. There are a few different methods of offense at sea as ships can be sneaky and don’t always just hang out right alongside your main broadside cannons.

Not going to lie, it felt great sailing the seas.

Not going to lie, it felt great sailing the seas.

There are, of course, the broadside cannons that cover a wider area; these also have a heavy shot that is much stronger but has ammo that needs to be refilled and is slower to fire. Front cannons shoot cannon balls held together by chains and are great for slowing down a fleeing ship or dealing some damage as you approach. Fire barrels can be dropped off the back of the ship, helping to deal damage to a pursuer. There are also mortars that can be fired at targets up to 500m away, which is great for stronger targets and forts. The front of the ship is also a ram that does damage when you just feel like slamming into someone. All of these weapons, as well as the hull strength, can be improved by using gold and materials salvaged from defeated ships.

The type of attack you make depends on which angle you rotate the camera to be facing, so all attacks are done pretty much the same way. For example, when your camera is facing toward an enemy on your broadside, you’ll be shooting the side cannons, and to then drop some barrels behind, you simply rotate the camera so you’re looking behind.

Your spyglass can be used to look at the strength of an enemy ship as well as show what kind of gold and materials they have. When a ship is severely weakened, you have the option of simply sinking it, or boarding it and taking it over. This was probably my favorite part of Black Flag. Depending on the ship type and level, upon boarding there are tasks that need to be met in order to take a ship which include killing a certain number of crew members, the captain, scouts, setting off gunpowder reserve barrels, and cutting down their flag. Being on an enemy ship and fighting alongside your crewmen against an enemy crew is a really fun experience and can feel as intense as it looks, especially later in the game against stronger ships.

Once a ship is taken, you’ll have the option of either repairing your own ship (which can also be done at shops), lowering your wanted level, which causes bounty hunters to pursue you if it gets too high, and sending it to your own fleet of ships. Materials and crew members are salvaged regardless of which option is chosen.

The fleet you command works similarly to your group of commanded assassins from Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood but rather than send them on assassination contracts, your ships complete naval contracts that involve trading supplies and bringing back gold for you. Many routes are available and are often protected. Ship battle mode can be played to help make the routes safer which increases the likelihood of success in the mission as well as acquiring more materials to trade. The ship battle system pits your ships (up to 3) against up to 3 enemy ships and they each have strength, speed, and firepower rates. The battle runs itself automatically and depending on which ships you send in and their condition against those of the enemies, the success rate will vary. Once that battle is over, you can repair your ships using gems that can also be used to purchase docks to hold more ships. Gems can also be acquired by salvaging ships already in your fleet which happens a lot as more powerful ships can be captured later in the game. The naval contracts unlock new areas with more profitable contracts as well as items for your art gallery.

ShipCombat

Once a place is visited, you can use a fast travel option to quickly move between areas and to be honest, it’s good they included it because the map is quite big and it takes a while to get from place to place.

Another activity you can partake in while aboard the Jackdaw is hunting. Many species of marine life can be harpooned and harvested including, killer whales, humpback whales, bull sharks, hammerhead sharks, and even the great white. The programmers weren’t very creative with this segment because it is literally the same as the del Lago boss fight in Resident Evil 4. You stand on the bow of the boat, throw harpoons and after the creature is stuck, it makes a few lunges at you before diving, breaking the rope. You then have a few seconds to look around, waiting for it to surface and charge you, requiring you to hit it with another harpoon before it does damage to you.

Just throw a harpoon in his face.

Just throw a harpoon in his face.

Speaking of the map, it is separated into several different areas, each being labeled as Easy, Medium, or Hard, which is in reference to the difficulty of defeating enemy ships within. These areas of the map all have an enemy fort, which needs to be taken in order to reveal all the landmarks within them. To defeat a fort, it must first be disabled on the outside by your ship. The forts have cannons and mortars and can be pretty tough to take down, especially the high difficulty ones. Once the outer points are destroyed, you must enter the fort and kill its officers, of which there are usually 2-3. These sequences are fun because they’re similar to the battles on the ships with your crew in an all out brawl against the enemies. Once the main fort leader is dispatched, the fort is yours and you have a safe haven to get repairs to your ship as well as take on naval contracts.

Watching these forts crumble as you shower mortar fire on them is pretty satisfying.

Watching these forts crumble as you shower mortar fire on them is pretty satisfying.

These contracts are a bit different from those in your fleet as you have to actively play them and usually involve tracking down a specific enemy ship, plundering a certain amount of a material, or taking out a captain.

There are 4 legendary ship battles, one at each corner of the map that are optional but give a ton of gold and are all pretty difficult, even after fully upgrading the Jackdaw. They offer a decent variety with regard to how they attack and how to best defeat them and are more of a personal satisfaction and achievement hunter thing. I was only able to defeat 2 of them and I spent a good deal of time trying to beat the others.

Back on land, each main city has its starting points for the main story missions, and a lot of other things to do and collect. There are bars where you can have a drink and play games, just like Assassin’s Creed III but here, many need to be unlocked by beating a handful of thugs with your bare hands. Viewpoints have long been a staple of the series and they are still around, requiring a climb to certain high up points to unlock areas of the map and show where treasures can be found. There are collectibles throughout the game in the form of animus fragments, which don’t do much other than unlock cheats, shanties which are songs that your crew sings while at sea, and animal pelts from hunting that can be sold or used to craft armor and upgrades to Edward that allow for additional pistols to be carried and stronger armor.

There are shops where upgraded swords and pistols can be purchased as well as ammo for your pistols and smoke bombs. Ship upgrades and refills for heavy shot, mortars, and fire barrels can be purchased from harbormasters.

Dancers (prostitutes) and drunk pirates can be hired to help you stay hidden and distract guards. They really come in handy on eavesdrop missions. Eventually, you can upgrade your home base to where hiring them is free, but they aren’t expensive to begin with.

Inspecting pigeon coops reveals assassination contracts which give you money for hunting down and killing a specified target. Not much new here.

I highly doubt carrier pigeons were this effective 100% of the time.

I highly doubt carrier pigeons were this effective 100% of the time.

There is a series of side quests that involve working closely with different members of the assassins guild to take out specific targets in order for Edward to acquire a series of 5 keys that unlock an elite set of armor found at the house that becomes home base. These aren’t required but the Templar armor is among the strongest in the game and looks pretty cool, too. Another set of special armor can be found by collecting Mayan stones buried throughout the islands that can be found by doing a small puzzle at special Mayan totems.

Although swimming has been part of the AC series since the second installment, Black Flag is the first to include underwater segments. The Jackdaw can be equipped with a diving bell, a real device used during the 1700s to allow divers to breathe underwater while being able to view aquatic life. In these segments, you collect chests that contain treasure and blueprints for upgrades to the Jackdaw.

The task itself wouldn’t be so hard if Caribbean marine life didn’t want you dead, and trust me, they let you know it. You take damage from coming in contact with sea urchins, which makes perfect sense, but there are also bloodthirsty sharks and moray eels that jump out and scare the ever loving crap out of you if you get too close. I’m sure hearing me shriek like a little girl the first time one of these evil creatures attacked me would have been entertaining for any onlookers. Overall, these were among my least favorite parts of the game as they tended to be a bit more tedious and the moray eels were goddamned horrifying.

This is goddamned horrifying every single time.

This is goddamned horrifying every single time.

After completing certain main story missions, the game cuts back to modern day where your nameless Abstergo employee has some adventures of his own. You’re contacted by the IT engineer who has you start to hack the computer consoles of other employees, which unlocks information like background on previous characters seen in AC games, archived sound clips from Desmond Miles, and information about Abstergo product releases. You’re instructed to deliver hacked information back to a courier on the main floor who will be familiar to seasoned AC players. The hacking sequences are short puzzles that I didn’t find too difficult and considering how many computers there were to hack, there wasn’t enough variety not to make it pretty boring.

Like many games today, there are A LOT of collectibles in Black Flag, and if you’re like me, and like to go for 100% completion, be ready to spend a good amount of time collecting, especially on those small islands at sea. The only collecting I actually got enjoyment out of was finding the 22 treasure maps scattered around. Each one gave the coordinates for an island on the map with a series of pictures to lead you to the treasure’s location. Some of them were pretty tough to find, but it was pretty satisfying when, after studying the maps for a while, you figure out the location and they were nowhere near as hard as the ones in Red Dead Redemption. The treasure found in these special chests was either money or blueprints to improve your ship.

Maps

I’ve heard some say that the Assassin’s Creed series is too boring and repetitive to be considered truly fun and honestly, I can see where they’re coming from. The formula of the games hasn’t really changed much since the first game was released in 2008, but for me, grinding one of these games every year or two for 30-40 hours to experience the narrative and explore cities in different historical periods is a lot of fun and while it may not be anything groundbreaking, Black Flag was a blast and I’m very glad I took the time to play through it.

These games are a one and done for me as far as playthroughs, which is one of the reasons I try to get everything the first time. I think that games of this length aren’t really designed with replayability in mind so I just play through, enjoy the ride while it lasts, and wait for the next one. Maybe they will eventually have an Assassin’s Creed game set in the future with robots!

Overall, Black Flag is my favorite Assassin’s Creed game and I would recommend it to fans of the series and just plain ol’ pirate fans alike.

Enjoy!

Written by InfiniteKnife

InfiniteKnife

My personal favorite games are those in the Survival Horror and Sports (baseball) genres, but I can find at least a game or 2 in just about any category that I love to play.

I grew up on Nintendo consoles (NES and SNES) and have been an Xbox guy since the first one was released in the early 2000s. It’s hard to stay away from the classics as the 16-bit era is probably still my favorite overall.

 
 

Share This Post

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Assassin's Creed Rogue - PS3 - Nerd Bacon Reviews

  2. Pingback: Assassin's Creed: Freedom Cry - PC - Nerd Bacon Reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *