Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is, hard to believe, the sixth entry in the series. With Desmond gone, the story follows a tester at Abstergo Industries. He’s going into the memories of the famed pirate, Edward Kenway, unknowingly following the Templar’s creed in the guise of researching a video game. His narrative is minuscule compared to Edwards’ rise from grunt, to pirate, to assassin. It has its good parts of high seas action and memorable characters, but a slow pace bogs it down. It just needed to cut out a portion of the game and focus.
The core gameplay of AC remains ultimately unchanged. And while exploring environments, assassinating people, and obtaining hundreds of collectables is all there, that’s only half the game. The other portion is sailing around the Caribbean. There’s plenty of adventure awaiting Kenway from battling ships, hunting for sharks or whales, deep sea diving for treasure, or retaking forts. Handling a ship can still be a bit clunky like in AC3, but it ultimately feels as good as one would expect. Multiplayer is still around and while it hasn’t changed much it’s a nice replacement from typical game types. Aside from controls, the only real issue ACIV suffers from is a glut of activities. There’s literally too many things to do, gumming up the map. And then there’s the infuriating number of tailing missions, which can frankly die in Davy Jones’ Locker.
If ACIV can say anything, it’s that new consoles can’t come soon enough. While the awkward controls and glitches still plague this series, it still can’t help but be beautiful from the rich tropical forests, ancient ruins, and miles of awe-inspiring waves. There’s nothing quite like the feel of sailing especially accompanied by Kenway’s crew singing sea shanties. That along with the overall soundtrack of jaunty pirate tunes makes the game that much more immersive. However, ACIV is a bit grind heavy as obtaining gold is more important than ever and sailing around takes time.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a fantastic pirate game that is marred down by an AC game. The two gameplay styles are together haphazardly, but it works for the most part. It’s definitely better than AC3, but it still doesn’t come close to Ezio’s adventures…minus Revelations.
Score: 3/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on November 18, 2013 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.