Assassin’s Creed is back. Another yearly release. Franchise fatigue is starting to set in, much like with Call of Duty. And after the buggy, almost broken Assassin’s Creed III, did anyone really expect Ubisoft to bounce back with Assassin’s Creed? I certainly didn’t. I was pretty much done with Assassin’s Creed at Revelations. In fact, with Assassin’s Creed IV, it took me two tries to really get into the game enough to complete it. And after all that, this Assassin’s Creed (the 6th game in the series) is probably my 2nd favorite of the entire franchise behind Brotherhood. But let’s get back to the concept. Assassin’s Creed IV takes the immensely popular naval forages of ACIII and makes it the main mode of travel in the game. You play the part of Edward Kenway, a pirate with a strong desire to make enough gold to set himself up for a life of enjoyment and leisure. He’s willing to do just about anything, risk anyone to reach his goal. There is a much deeper story to this but the singular factor in Edward’s motivation throughout most of the game is simple: wealth. This makes Edward into a bit of an anti-hero, but I feel like Ubisoft could’ve delved a little deeper into it, making him look less like a hero, especially in the beginning. The typical Assassins vs. Templars storyline is present, along with assassinations and stealth strategy. The entire game is open world, with the exception of the major cities: Nassau, Havana and Kingston and your hideout. Overall, the concept is simple: bring the Assassin’s Creed franchise to the Caribbean and focus on naval travel. Oh and throw in a few famous pirates along the way.
Another game that makes me glad I went with the next generation consoles. The view distances are amazing, the graphic details of the ground are well done and don’t just pop up as you get closer. The water animation is top notch and the entire graphical experience is smooth and natural. The only gripe I have is the out of animus experience, it seems a little too blocky for me.
Oh my lord, the shanties! One of the coolest collectables in ACIV are the ship shanties, and they are an amazing experience that never seems to get old while sailing around. The voices are gruff but melodic and very addicting. The voice acting on everyone except James Kidd is well done, with him it seemed a little forced, but that was part of his character I guess. Anne Bonne’s accent was a little forced but Thatch’s voice was extremely well done and believable.
While the gameplay for ACIV is pretty standard for the game, it doesn’t really do much for me. Kill streaks don’t feel as intuitive as they did back in Brotherhood, it almost felt like I was back in the counter-kill days of ACI. However, the ship controls were amazing, once you got the hang of them and steering against the wind and sea was surprisingly realistic (at least for a game.) Ship to ship battles were pretty well done, although it frustrated me that the Man-o-War’s were so much taller than the Jackdaw, making the swivel cannons almost useless.
The multiplayer aspect of the game has strayed too far from it roots in my opinion. It wasn’t really that fun because there is just so much being thrown in there. And you can’t even just stick to your typical Wanted game mode. It is mixed in with others on a playlist. Overall, the multiplayer felt very foreign to me and I didn’t enjoy it.
There is so much entertainment value in this game. The storyline is engaging, with memorable characters and expected yet unexpected bad guys. The precursor race storyline takes a back seat as does the out of animus experience, which is great in my opinion. They needed to focus on the Edward character, and they did. He actually has very little to do with the Assassin Order until the very end of the storyline, which I kind of like. My biggest praise though is the interactions with the supporting cast. Everything feels real, the relationships, the loss, and realization of the world around him. Ubisoft does an amazing job in conveying what the life of a pirate was really like.
The amount of things to do in this game make it an incredible time sink. I spent probably 50-60 hours playing the main storyline. I did pretty much everything to do, got all the collectibles and found every secret on the maps. I did most of the buried treasure and the only animus fragments and chests I didn’t collect were the uncharted island ones. I enjoyed the Mayan puzzles, the Templar assassinations, and the harpooning mini-game. The crafting was okay, it doesn’t need to be a big part of the game, and it wasn’t. I also really enjoyed battling the legendary ships. It took me probably 20 times to defeat El Impoluto and about 12-15 times to beat Royal Sovereign/Fearless.
The multiplayer is just okay to me. It feels foreign from my Assassin’s Creed multiplayer experience and not as fun. The exploits and leveling difference make this a hassle to level and a considerable time sink just to do okay. Maybe I’m just not that good of an AC multiplayer anymore.
I spent over 50 hours on the single player, but the multiplayer doesn’t really do it for me. Overall, I’d give this game a replayability of Slightly Low because the single player is such a time sink and the multiplayer doesn’t keep me coming back.
9.1 out of 10
(images were taken from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s public image gallery at http://assassinscreed.ubi.com/en-US/home/index.aspx)