Review

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Freedom Cry Review

  • Game release: October 29, 2013
  • Reviewed: December 18, 2013
  • XONE
  • X360
  • PS3
  • PS4

From Liberation to liberator.

As the sea-faring partner in crime to Edward Kenway, Jackdaw quartermaster Adewale often projected a sense of self that made him a ripe candidate for the assassins. Adewale is now ready to forge own path, though Freedom Cry is just a small window into Adewale's solo exploits; we don't bear witness to his initiation into the Brotherhood, and this downloadable content merely teases us with a Templar pursuit in its opening minutes, which quickly goes awry in a storm.

If this stormy start rings a bell, it's because it curiously mirrors the beginning of Black Flag, except now it's Adewale lying on a beach in the West Indies with a mystery package from the Templars. While he's eager to resume his mission, his detour in tracking the package's recipient leads him to Bastienne, a madam in Port-au-Prince. Given Adewale's firsthand experience as a slave and his inherent sense of justice, his interests in freeing the local slaves align with the madam's. Considering Bastienne's association with the Templars, their alliance is a tenuous one, which is further complicated when they don't see eye to eye on how to best initiate a rebellion.

An uneasy trust is established with Bastienne.

Whereas Black Flag merely touched upon the plight of slaves in the New World, slavery is the main thematic thrust of Freedom Cry. The center of Port-au-Prince provides limitless opportunities to steal keys to open cages and end human auctions stealthily or brutally. Echoing a scene in Black Flag where Kenway is carrying a dying character, Adewale has opportunities to carry poor injured slaves to hideaways in the jungle. It's infinite slave spawning as designed, and given your obligations to the main story quests, the perpetual influx of slaves is a blunt allegory about how freeing such captives isn't a task for one man, let alone one assassin. Yet when you start seeing runaway slaves pop up from the same spots and chased along the same paths repeatedly, these respawns bring out the game's monotony. Moreover, there's no penalty for ignoring these rescue missions aside from missing out on bonus items. It feels mildly twisted that slaves are still treated as a commodity even after you set them free. The more you liberate, the greater the access to optional enhancements, such as more ammo pouches and a steel-forged machete. The story justifies this with exposition that shows the freed slaves are working toward your cause and giving you resources to free others. That doesn't change the discomforting fact that these humans have been itemized and given a value related to various upgrades.

Spread across nine missions, each with its own series of goals, Freedom Cry plays like a sampler platter of the many mission types in Black Flag. There are ships to sink, suspects to tail, and targets to kill. Just because this mini campaign is a fraction of the size of Kenway's adventure doesn't mean the missions themselves have to be smaller. Yet that's what you get with a couple of the eavesdropping settings; one confines you within a bar, rather than asking you to snoop via long walks through town. There's nothing wrong with these brief objectives, though they do give a sense that the game is more jam-packed with goals than it actually is. Like most other Assassin's Creed games, Freedom Cry is a more gratifying experience when you're accomplishing certain missions stealthily. It's all the more rewarding to liberate plantations quietly, since land owners begin to kill slaves once you're spotted.

The perpetual influx of slaves is a blunt allegory about how freeing such captives isn't a task for one man, let alone one assassin.

Fortune favors the stealthy strategist.

Between the dense town of Port-au-Prince and the adjacent jungle that provides cover for freed slaves, island life can feel rather confining. So it's to Freedom Cry's credit that it features the same mainline and optional content ratio of Black Flag. That includes a segment of the Caribbean available to explore by sea with no fewer than nine question marks worth investigating, as well as fort-invading, harpooning, and diving for treasure within sunken ships. While this gameplay loop very much resembles what you would experience on the seas of Black Flag, the added presence of slave ships to liberate provides a new, albeit minor, level of strategy in ship combat. The challenge comes in destroying escorts without damaging slave ships, a tough task depending on how close to each other ships remain in relation to your cannons' trajectories. The one drawback is that these opportunities to save large groups of slaves at sea in a single battle undermine the value of spending time freeing slaves on land one person at a time.

Adewale has a much cooler head than Edward Kenway, so it's easy to picture him adept at wielding swords and pistols while gracefully taking over enemy ships. Yet because of the limited resources of the resistance, he spends most of the game with brutal tools like a heavily used machete and the blunderbuss. However crude, the machete affords Adewale the same counter and break defense moves that we've seen from many other assassins. As a rare shotgun-style weapon for the series, the blunderbuss is highly effective in killing at least four colonists in a single round, and dubiously so when you have slaves and other bystanders in the line of fire. Since the main missions take less than four hours to clear, upgrading both Adewale and his ship is a much more abbreviated--and ultimately optional--endeavor than the deeper enhancement paths in Black Flag. You gain access to rope, sleep, and berserk darts early on, as well as the smoke bomb, which is a crowd-stunning weapon that, as it always has, gives too much power to the player.

Freedom Cry plays like a sampler platter of the many mission types in Black Flag.

From the infectious sea shanties to the jovial singing circles at the taverns, Black Flag was certainly the most musically vocal game in the series. Freedom Cry manages to match that, which is an achievement when you find out it doesn't feature sea shanties. This time, the in-game singing comes from the slaves tending the fields. Whether the songs were the earliest form of slave songs or merely hymns that evolved from African origins, I couldn't discern. Whatever their sources, the songs add texture to this cast of captive non-player characters, not to mention the game overall. Even Adewale participates when he uses a one-line chant as a password within the resistance movement. And while the non-vocal Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired music of Black Flag was functional at best, Freedom Cry's soundtrack gives the sea combat an epic atmosphere that the ship battles of the main game lacked. This suspiciously memorable soundtrack compelled me to check the game's credits, and where I learned that the music was composed by Remember Me's talented Olivier Deriviere.

With the strongest ensemble cast in the franchise, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag wasn't short of assassins and pirates worthy of their own playable tales, DLC or otherwise. Freedom Cry is more than just another Assassin's Creed IV chapter with a reskinned protagonist, but its troubled handling of dark themes makes this a turbulent voyage.

The Good
Adewale is a great character to know and to play
A good mix of required and optional missions
The Bad
Constant spawning detracts from the main story
Poor execution of incentivizing the freeing of slaves
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

About the Author

After a number of assignments, including a 100 percent sync walkthrough for GameSpot, Miguel has amassed about 100 hours in Assassin's Creed IV over multiple playthroughs. After beating the story of Freedom Cry as well as accomplishing some optional goals, the tally is up to 105 hours.

Discussion

62 comments
punksterdaddy
punksterdaddy

This is a good reason as any, on why not to buy Season Passes, long before you know what it is that you are getting for it!

AC IV was good, I'll pass on Freedom Cry.

RyogaRod
RyogaRod

This expansion wasn't bad at all. Decent story line, got a little repetitive towards the end. Because I own the game and or have PS Plus, I was able to download it for $10. Can't wait to see what they do for AC V.

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

when DLC sucks it just pisses me off.... if this actually sucks that pisses me off

Jock9
Jock9

I hated the original game which I bought on the PS4, rehashed and dull as hell; nothing new added, and it still feels as the older instalments had, nothing new and certainly not worth it's price tag. I will not bother with paying for any of it's DLC, load of crap Ubisoft. Just bring us Watch Dogs, or go bankrupt; your choice.

pigsybum
pigsybum

Gamespot main page clearly states 9/10 for this game. And when you press on the reviews, it links to another staff's 6/10 review...

Gamespot make up your mind pls.

robbiejones
robbiejones

while playing ac4 i always think to myself why not just bring out a pirate game without the ac name labeled on it. Obviously it's playing it safe, But i do wish they just bring out a new pirate LP and give assassins creed a rest... for awhile atleast

bennehftw
bennehftw

As a guy who loved AC I, but slowly started losing interest the more games I've played (In order):


Beat Brotherhood, was okay;

Played a little of Revelations, boring;

Started AC II quit 10 mins into it; 

Played 3...maybe an hour of gameplay, hated it.


Would I like AC4?

billzihang
billzihang

We want a BLACKBEARD campaign.


I want to shoot my own crew just to strike fear in them.

crunchb3rry
crunchb3rry

Lol at a negative bullet point for this game being "poor execution of incentivizing the freeing of slaves." Which is like saying "I'll free these people if I can benefit somehow."

dallask
dallask

ok ok  comparing it to Shadow Broker may be a bit far, but it is still really good!  I mean, a whole new Assassin to play as!?  Adewale is a great character and this DLC is fun, better than just adding a few more missions to the current campaign.

shahdeewasahoe
shahdeewasahoe

Why does the black guy get the low scores? Always the black guy. CONSPIRACY!

easykillzgaming
easykillzgaming

I thought that this game was pretty good. I finished it at 100% sync and even though it got boring at times it just kept drawing me back. The DLC was a decent add on but i thought that there would be just a little more to it.I would pick up this game if you are a huge AC fan as I have to play the all myself. The story is much different this time with i being all about the pirates but it gives a new feeling to the series. On the next gen consoles the graphics are  amazing.


For more gameplay and reviews check EKG on facebook and youtube!


https://www.youtube.com/user/EasyKillzGaming

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Easy-Killz-Gaming/190718417772195?ref=hl

themc_7
themc_7

I'm probably gonna pass on this. I'm at around 98% sync in the Kenway section and I'm beginning to get sick of it. Sounds like this DLCs doesn't really add too much. 


Maybe later at Sale price.

nigelholden
nigelholden

I love it so far. Adewele, is a great extension to the game. I find myself more invested because I'm constantly wanting to free the slaves. Interesting dynamic I've never felt in game

Ultra_Taco
Ultra_Taco

"Poor execution of incentivizing the freeing of slaves"


...wat



Why would a former slave need more incentive than he already has to free other slaves?

Jeferson Herculano
Jeferson Herculano

v in order to access this... The story feels like a true Assassin's Creed, not that crap pirate thing...

Jeferson Herculano
Jeferson Herculano

I really appreciate this DLC...it's a shame that i have to play AC I

Jeremiah Kruzich
Jeremiah Kruzich

Not at all, it's the primary reason I never get to enjoy DLC. Expansions > DLC.

John Martins
John Martins

Am I alone in not caring about 90-minute DLC campaigns? If the price is right, then sure, it's a fair deal... but I'm just gonna delete it the same day anyway. I could be starting a new game with a 30+ hour campaign instead.

Anigmar
Anigmar

I see many new faces in these reviews. Are user reviews? Cause 'Staff' is a bit too generic...

Anyway I've seen the dlc playthroughs (PC version is not out yet) and it didn't look that bad. I liked it though I agree it wasn't great. Again we should remember it's just the 1st part of a story.

Oh, and: "Poor execution of incentivizing the freeing of slaves". The incentive is doing the right thing.

Vodoo
Vodoo

Could there be a "good" way of incentivizing the freeing of slaves? Probably not, though being it is a GAME, there needs to be a reward system in place for every task fulfilled.

GLOK1132
GLOK1132

I think the score is dead on.  The DLC has a good story and enough new features to justify the price.  But it has more bugs than the regular game, and it feels like a step back from the regular game.  I had several issues with game breaking bugs and poorly designed missions.  The DLC only has a few drawbacks, but it doesn't do enough good to justify a higher score.

the13stuff
the13stuff

Question, is the season pass just this, some multiplayer stuff, and some boat skins? Are there going to be more single player add ons like this included?

thecman25
thecman25

guys if you love assassins creed then you're going to love this DLC, and really "Poor execution of incentivizing the freeing of slave" there are plenty of ways of freeing slaves 

BetaVulgaris
BetaVulgaris

So you get to play an assassin in this game?

dallask
dallask

A 6 is too low, this is great DLC and one of the best I've played since Mass Effects "Shadow Broker".  Don't be turned off by the score, if you loved Black Flag you will love this, guaranteed.  Can't wait to see where the next one goes!

heguain
heguain

@Jock9 Lol, You gave Bugfield 4, Killzone Shadow Fall & Knack an 8? Then you bash this good game? I don't think you even like the series from the start, then why the heck did you buy it?? and did Ubisoft force you to buy their DLC aswell??

Weird :/

NTM23
NTM23

@bennehftw  


The first was good, but not great in my opinion, the Ezio trilogy is the best, as Revelations, while still great, being the worst of the three for a few reasons, and three being the worst, as a nearly poor game, but settling at mediocre, while Black Flag to me was surprisingly great. I liked it a lot, but if you're not into Assassin's Creed, as it sounds you aren't, you're probably not going to like this. 


I honestly didn't much like the ship battles that much in this, merely because it makes you upgrade the ships all the way to have the funnest, and easiest time with it, while settling for the middle ground will make the battles doable, but at times frustrating when all you want to do is get to the next area. I just felt a sense of relief after all was done when it came to what was needed for ship battles; not just because I accomplished what felt like a lot, but because it also felt like a chore to me. 


I really enjoyed the on ground stuff though; it to me took the best of what the others did, and made them slightly better, as well as taking the bad aspects of three and making them good. While I didn't fully enjoy most of the ship battles, the aspect of getting around the world with the ship is a nice and interesting way to go about it. Ezio's probably still the best AC character, but Edward is a close second and he's also voiced well which can make certain moments filled with great sense of emotion.


Many people love the ship chants, and while I kind of like them, very early on in the game I found myself making them not sing since I liked the quiet ocean more, and sometimes music of its own would play. It was also somewhat annoying to hear them start the same song over and over, even when you collected new ones on your journey. 


I liked the ship stuff to an extent, but I enjoyed the on ground stuff far more, so it was too bad that the game largely consists of on ocean travel, but it by no means makes the game not great, because it is great. My least favorite experience in the game was simply trying to take the forts. Of course, that's not going to happen if you upgrade, but you may not be determined to find all the stuff for it.


I may go back and do that, but it was more of a pain, because while I really liked and wanted to play the game, I also had other games to play, so I hurried through it while still trying to attain all that can be attained when it came to story stuff and collectibles. I've spent about 18 and a half hours in it so far. The story was pretty good too, but not the most interesting of all of them. 


Oh, and while all of the previous AC games had great soundtracks, this one also has one as well. I wanted to say it arguably has the best, but I'm not so sure about that.

nico2000nl
nico2000nl

@bennehftw No, probably not...

Or maybe you will. This game is nothing like the previous ones.

They turned an intelligent, challenging game into a tedious, repetitive and extremely easy first person shooter. Probably to makle the big bucks selling to the mindless masses.

So maybe it is something for you. All depends what you want in a game.

StarsiderSajun
StarsiderSajun

Think of it as an open world pirate game and certainly the best of that genre that has been made to date, and play it on that alone. You won't be disappointed.

Lunar6
Lunar6

@bennehftw  Not counting that I hold AC1 as the absolute worst in the series, you're not really helping your own point with how little of each game you played to begin with.


On that subject, ACIV has some of the most notable additions to the series in terms of how you traverse the world, but really, many of its flaws are arguably the worst since AC1. That includes sloppier melee combat, stagnant and repetitive mission structure in the campaign. What makes ACIV far better still is how much the game opens way for playing at your own pace independant of the main story. AC1 didn't have that.

themc_7
themc_7

@Anigmar I was unaware this was part 1 of a multi-part story. interesting

boogie25
boogie25

@Anigmar it should be out i got it yesterday on uplay and i have pc version.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@thecman25 

You may want to realize that the statement concerned may involve the rewards from freeing slaves, not the ways to free them.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

@BetaVulgaris Yeah. I didn't like Brotherhood because it was more or less just improvements to ACII without actually feeling like being an assassin. These games you felt like being a warrior. AC IV on the other hand, does feel like assassin like.

pip3dream
pip3dream

@dallask   wow - comparing this to shadow broker is a bold claim!  does anyone else agree?  i was turned off by the low score for this dlc, but i really love assassins creed and i enjoyed black flag a lot.  

Jock9
Jock9

@heguain @Jock9 For me, Battlefield 4 was good for it's Campaign, I haven't touched multiplayer yet. I like Battlefield 4's storyline and plot, because it's always an even bigger threat with each instalment. Killzone: Shadow Fall, meh it's alright and I prefer it over AC4 because of the world of Helghast and such. Finally Knack, hmm I think it pays homage to Ratchet and Clank, and I really liked that when I played it. 


I haven't played Freedom Cry, haven't bought it but usually with AC DLC, it's always not worth the price tag. I didn't buy AC4, my brother got it so I saved the money and when I tried it, I just could not get into it. It just felt rehashed, and  recycled which this series has done too much, and it just loses my interest. 

bennehftw
bennehftw

@NTM23 @bennehftw I loved the concept of 1, brotherhood was probably the closest game to hitting the mark of the feeling of how innovative 1 was. I can't play the same game in a different environment with a few added tidbits. Might as well be a separate DLC. The story of AC is amazing, the huge depth of the game wants me going for more, but I'm not going to play the same game over and over just to see the story. 


Honestly by your review is sounds like a version of the Windwaker, but with duller sea travel. Is the ship part of the game that integral?


Near the end of Mass Effect 1, I just wanted the game to end, I completely rushed through the last few sequences because I grew bored of the game. Never played 2 or 3 because of that.

bennehftw
bennehftw

@nico2000nl @bennehftw Meh, not a CoD fan to start with. If it gives you any sort of idea of what kind of gamer I am, I loved Fallout 3, and Skyrim, but hated New Vegas, and not a fan oblivion (played in reverse order). Similarities in games don't make them better, it's the same game just with a different face, subtle differences (which subtlety can be debated, but in my opinion) I seem to be getting a lot of comments being more provoking than anything, and not adding to my question at all. Which was an honest question, as I do want to like AC 1.

bennehftw
bennehftw

@Lunar6 @bennehftw I want to love the series really, it was the story that drew me to wanting so much more. The introduction of guns was the main thing that threw me off. I mean all those little side stories, I ate it all. It was the repetitive structure of it all that started to get stale, but as long as the exploration aspect of it is better maybe I would like it. I always loved the exploration aspect of it. 

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Tylermaxx

So says the person not having a single profile picture.

To me, you are just one of those fanboys that pop in to plant a protesting complaint whenever you see a review that you disagree with.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 4 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Wii U
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a free-roaming action adventure game for both current gen and next gen consoles. Players will take the role of young captain Edward Kenway whose exploits earn the respect of pirate legends like Blackbeard, but draw him into an ancient war that may destroy everything the pirates have built.
    8.7
    Average User RatingOut of 1648 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
    Developed by:
    Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft
    Published by:
    Ubisoft
    Genres:
    Adventure, Action, 3D, Open-World
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence