So Assassin’s Creed: Unity is now out in the wild, the first Assassin’s Creed game made specifically for the new generation of consoles. However it’s not been the smoothest of launches for Ubisoft. The game has been besieged with glitches and bugs that have hampered early adopters. Of course there are various patches on the way, I think they are up to number three at the moment. With more expected in the coming weeks.
Couple that with less than favourable reviews and Ubisoft’s next big Assassin’s Creed adventure hasn’t been the game changer they may have hoped. With this in mind, I thought now would be a good time to re-visit the last Assassin’s Creed game that appeared on PS4. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. So, here is our look back at the swash buckling adventures of one Edward Kenway.
Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag was a bit of a departure from the usual Assassin’s Creed with the current story line seemingly ending with Assassin’s Creed 3 and the death of Desmond. Up steps Abstergo (from previous AC games) as a new interactive entertainment company, who figured out you don’t need the Animus after all, just some DNA to re-create the adventures of people’s ancestors. One thing is clear, the plot still doesn’t make any sense, I have a feeling that Ubisoft have intertwined their story so much with history and present day, and spin-off games and such, I don’t think even they understand where they are a year after its launch, Still the best way to play Black Flag is to ignore the story – at least the parts set in the modern-day – and just enjoy the excellent adventures of Pirate Edward Kenway.
So Black Flag was a game originally planned for the PS3 but got the PS4 upgrade, just because they could. There isn’t a great deal of difference, the only notable upgrade being the textures. The game also suffers from some glaring AI issues, glitches and control annoyances, which to be fair have plagued the PS3 version and pretty much all AC games since the very first one.
But do you know what, these gripes don’t even matter because what we have is an epic pirate story that would sit nicely in Boys Own comic, and in terms of scope and good honest adventuring it sits happily in the same league as Red Dead Redemption. Perhaps better in some cases thanks to the sheer size of the game world.
And that has to be the winner here, the game world. Sure probably doesn’t have the variety of Read Dead, and the main story isn’t as much fun, but boy, sailing the oceans discovering islands, fighting sea storms, Whaling, plundering and fending off rival ships, it’s something that slaps a grin on my face every time I play it. It really is a sight to behold. And to this day one of my favourite game worlds. As mentioned the oceans are far from empty with royal fleets patrolling the seas and so on. This of course leads to epic naval battles which work brilliantly. Your Ship the Jackdaw has a variety of weapons at its disposal, heavy shot, mortar, chain shot and fire barrels. All can be activated depending on which way your face the camera. Sounds tricky but works a treat. Battles are intense and dramatic. Peering through the heavy smoke left behind from your cannons, only to see this great big frigate looming large is a sight to behold. And then, it’s time to board the ship, fight off the Spanish or English or whoever gets in your way and take the ship as your own, to either recruit pirates, repair the Jack Daw or send it to Kenway’s Fleet. Kenway’s fleet is a side mission which enables you to send ships out on missions to help you gain money or materials all of which help you upgrade the Jack Daw.
It’s a shame the same can’t be said for your on-land adventures The locations, although gorgeous to look at are all rather samey, with the missions ending up being infiltration types, with extra bonuses, like avoid combat, avoid alarms and so on. They start off well enough, but they soon get dull. The islands are also full of treasures, Animus Fragments, Sea Shanty’s and a few other trinkets to collect, you can if you choose collect them all but running around the island gets tiresome. The combat is good fun though, it’s similar to The Arkham Games, just not as smooth or refined, but works none the less with some pretty violent finishers to bring the fights to a satisfying end.
Assassins Creed Black flag is game so epic in scope it’s hard to believe it was originally meant for the PS3. I have a feeling Ubisoft should have saved this game for the new generation specific version of AC. There are some short comings and you get the feeling the hardware is at times struggling to keep up with Ubisoft’s vision. Don’t get me wrong though, what they have achieved is nothing short of a miracle. When you look at the visuals, especially when you’re at sea in the middle of a storm, It’s something you have never experienced before in a game. The cool tranquil Azure colours of the ocean as you walk along the beach are so inviting, you wish you could live your life as a pirate in the Caribean. The amount and variety of the side quests beggars belief at times, leaving you a sense that you really are in an open world where you can go anywhere and do anything. The main mission is unfortunately so normal in its creation it hurts a little, but the blow is softened by the side quests leaving you to pick and choose at the adventure without ever feeling bored, or that you must do the mission, That in itself is quite the accomplishment.
I started playing Assassin’s Creed Black flag again after the super serious Destiny and it’s just what I needed. In fact I would go as far to say as I’ve been put off buying and playing GTA V, Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity as I have all the game I need right here.
It may be an older model, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt like a game offered me such a sense of adventure as Black Flag even on my second run through and I’m more than happy to keep on playing until clocked. At least until Ubisoft fix the bugs of Unity.
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Full Disclosure: In order to write this review, we were provided with a review copy of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag by the publishers.
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