Assassin's Creed 4 : Black Flag review ; ARRR !!!

User Rating: 9 | Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag PC

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I have been playing Assassin’s Creed since the very first game . For me , the most disappointing game in the series was Assassin’s Creed 3 . After playing that , I had given up on the series . That is the main reason why I didn’t play Black Flag on launch . After ignoring it for few months , I decided it to give it a go and see what the fuss is all about .

Was it worth it .? Find out below .

Story :

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In Assassin’s Creed 4 : Black Flag , players 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 is going on between Assassins and Templars for centuries .

Samples taken from Desmond Miles' body in the moments after his death have enabled Abstergo Industries to continue to explore his genetic memories using the Animus' newfound cloud computing abilities. The unnamed player character is hired by Abstergo Entertainment to sift through the memories of Edward Kenway, an eighteenth-century pirate (the father of Haytham) . Kenway becomes pirate to live a better life than what he was living before . To do so , he becomes a pirate and struggles to become the greatest pirate of that time .

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On other hand , The Templars of the present time search for a First Civilization structure known as the Observatory, and use the memories of Edward Kenway to find it. As Kenway, the player must unravel a conspiracy between Templars within the British and Spanish empires who, use their positions to locate the Sage , who is the only man that can lead them to the Observatory .

Design :

The game can last for over hundred hours for those who are willing to do everything in the game . The world of the game is huge with lot of islands to explore and side quests to do in each island . Players can hunt animals , climb viewpoints (to see map in more detail) and loot chests . They can also find treasure maps , menuscripts and secrets .

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Each treasure map contains coordinates to find the treasure , which can be located by observing the map of the game and coordinates marked on that map . The animals that players hunt , are used to craft different items or to increase health points of the protagonist . Players can also use different parts of animals to craft darts , clothes and pouches . These ingredients can also be sold in the shops to gain money .

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Another major part of Black Flag is Edward’s own pirate ship , known as Jackdaw . Players can locate and destroy/board other ships to gain loot . The loot can be sold , or used to upgrade the ships’ weapons , armor , life boats etc . There are also underwater sections in the game , once equipments needed to dive under sea becomes available later in the game .

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The game also allows players to hunt Sharks and Whales on the sea or destroy enemy towers to control that area . Apart from that , there are 4 legendary ships in the game , which are extremely difficult to defeat and capture but doing so will greatly reward you .

Apart from stuff mentioned earlier , there are other challenges like collecting animus fragments and catching music notes . There are also Assassin’s Contracts , Naval Missions and Templar Hunt Missions . Completing Assassin’s Contracts and Naval Missions give you credits , while completing each Templar Hunt mission gives you a key to unlock the door to special armor , just like Revelations . Players will need to collect 5 keys to unlock the whole door .

Gameplay :

Not much have changed here when it comes to hand to hand combat . Players will still be spending most of their time by counter attacking enemies and then performing chain of kill streaks . You wait until counter attack symbol appears on top of enemy heads , then holding counter key triggers slow motion . During this time period players can decide to counter attack , throw enemy away or break his defense . Some enemies can’t be killed by simply countering their attacks and players must break their defense before attacking them .

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This time , the protagonist is also equipped with two swords instead of one . Hidden blades are also there along with up-to 4 revolvers , poison darts and smoke bombs . You’ll still be able to perform silent kills by performing air assassinations , killing enemies from behind or by hiding .

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Players will also spend most of their time on their ship , exploring or fighting other enemy ships . Side cannons in Jackdaw can be upgraded to heavy cannons which can cause serious damage to enemies’ ships . Mortars are used for ranged attacks and barrels can be used as mines . You can also upgrade ramming strength of your ship . After destroying each enemy ship , players are given a choice to either sink their ship and gain half of the loot or board it by placing your ship next to it . Doing so will give you complete loot , however you’ll be given some smaller tasks like killing enemy captain , killing certain amount of enemies or destroying their flag before you can take over . Once you’ve taken over , you’ll be given up-to 3 choices to either repair your ship , recruit members , or bribe officers to lose your tail .

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As usual you sprint , and just like previous games , Edward will himself jump over obstacles and climb different buildings and trees automatically . But even after so many entries in the franchise , there are still few annoyances here and there that have not been fixed by Ubisoft , since Assassin’s Creed 2 . The game is still not optimized for Mouse and Keyboard . While it is enjoyable when playing with Keyboard and Mouse , the game feels more fluid with controller .

Presentation :

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Assassin’s Creed 4 : Black Flag looks great , even on low settings . The game is one helluva looker when played at Higher settings . It is shame that nVIDIA exclusive features in the game are too demanding for lot of PCs and can cause the game to lag in some cases . Sound quality of the game is top notch . Soundtracks are great and voice acting is superb . Facial animations are also pretty impressive .

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As for optimization , the game is huge improvement over Assassin’s Creed 3 but still not there yet . However , the improvement they’ve made from last game is appreciated . There are some funny glitches and bugs here and there sometimes (nothing game breaking) but that to be expected from such a massive game . Assassin’s Creed 4 : Black Flag is the definition of a game being “AAA” .

Overall , the presentation of the game is solid .

Verdict :

I hated Assassin’s Creed 3 and thought it was mediocre at best but after playing Black Flag , I think they did a great job with this one . When it comes to story , I still prefer Revelations over any other Assassin’s Creed but as an overall package , Black Flag is the best Assassin’s Creed to date .

Pros :

+ Good Story

+ Lengthy Campaign

+ Ton of stuff to do

+ Contains gameplay both on land and sea

+ Makes you feel like a pirate

+ Great protagonist

+ Great supporting cast

+ Graphics

+ Sound design

+ Voice Acting

+ Soundtracks

+ Open World

Cons :

- Small annoyances here and there

- Minor bugs and glitches

- No innovation in hand to hand combat