Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is an amazing game. Great story, cinematics, piracy, assassinations, schemes, twists, and rum. Plenty of rum. Before we really get into this treasure chest and split the gold, let’s take a journey backwards a bit and discuss the history of the franchise that Ubisoft worked hard to maintain. If you click any of the links or have never played any of the games in the franchise, there may be spoilers ahead.
Assassin’s Creed started in 2007 and as a franchise has carried into the current year. The first game features our main protagonist Desmond Miles AKA Subject 17. Captured by the Abstergo corporation and forced to help them in their search for a mysterious artifact. Desmond is placed in the Animus, a system that reads your genetic information and allows you to see the memories of your ancestors. In this installation, you play the memories of Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad, a young assassin who is arrogant and brash with his decisions. The game was full of a historically rich world that allowed you to experience an open sandbox game unlike any other. The combat system needed work, but the game was still a lot of fun.
The story kept going with Assassin’s Creed II. After escaping from the Abstergo corporation, Desmond Miles joins the assassin brotherhood by following Lucy and her friends. In a battle to obtain The Pieces of Eden before Abstergo, Desmond must jump back into the Animus. Through the Animus he follows a new ancestor. Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a young Italian man in the Renaissance era. Much like Altair, Ezio is also young and full of arrogance as a young man. After the death of his father, Ezio seeks revenge against the Templars and embraces his assassin roots. Through Ezio, Desmond is able to find more information about The Pieces of Eden as well as refine his own assassin skills. This installation capitalized on the great story narrative of the first game and refined the combat system with vast improvements. Again, a world for of rich historical viewpoints, buildings, and people. Assassin’s Creed II was a major success.
The next two major titles to follow this were Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. While both of these games were independent titles, they still followed Desmond as he journeyed through the memories of Ezio. Both games were major hits, continuing the long-standing tradition of historical importance in the franchise and continuing what would be one of the greatest story saga’s within the franchise. Ubisoft continued to refine the combat system with smoother flow, smarter AI, and a broader range of weaponry kill your enemies with. The story of Desmond also continued to change and build on his obviously dysfunctional relationship with his father.
After the long-time story of Ezio, Ubisoft then decided to take franchise in a different direction with a new assassin in Assassin’s Creed III. The new assassin would also be an ancestor to Desmond, but we move into the Colonial period of history. This new expert in kill tactics would be Ratonhnhaké:ton, a half-English and half-Mohawk. Also, young and thick-headed in his decisions, lacking the wisdom of his elders, he joins the Assassin’s after his tribe are victim to the follies of white man. Assassin’s Creed III explored new environments with tree’s and cliffs replacing the cities used for prior assassinations. The weapons also changed with the introduction of bows and arrows. While the environments were beautiful, the story felt lacking to many fans of the series. This could have been due to this being the last game feature Desmond as our leading man, but I felt that it was due to a severe lack of quality in the story and the character being non-relatable.
Let’s step into the present, while also jumping into the past. The present being Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. After the ending of Assassin’s Creed III, many fans were left with a question. Who will be the new assassin? Who is going to take the place of leading man Desmond? These are questions I can not answer in detail, but a simple ‘yes’ is what I can give. We actually continue the story with the Grandfather of our previous assassin. Edward Kenway is a man with dreams and see’s only one way to achieve those dreams. Money. To obtain the money needed to live the comfortable wife, Edward departs from his family to take up on a ship and earn the much desired coin.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has the largest world between all of the games in the franchise. Not only do you have individual cities to explore, but you also have the open sea. It’s vast and beautiful. While sailing around, you’ll come across small islands that contain collectibles. You can go explore sunken ships with the use of a diving bell, practice your harpooning skills, show your dominance of the seas by destroying other ships. Outside of the main story missions, there is plenty for you to do.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag also includes social events that you can share with your friends that are also playing the game. Did you just discover a white whale? Did you name it Moby Dick there Ahab? Well, your friends will also no the location of that same white whale on their single player games as well. Together, you can all have an epic white whale of a tale. These social events also share chests and royal fleets that reward you with large scales of money. Also, unlike it’s predecessors, you have multiple uses for your money and a reason to get resources. Both are crucial to your abilities to upgrade your ship, which is necessary to take on stronger foes.
The world within Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag feels very alive. Anytime you’re in town, you can hear the in-game NPCs talking about numerous things that happened at that time in history. The ship feels like a pirate ship as you roll along the waves, your men singing one of the numerous sea shanties that you’ve picked up. Your quartermaster yelling out orders to your crew as you board an enemy ship. Once boarded, you can use the remnants of that ship to repair your own, send that ship to your personal fleet, or use it to lower your wanted level. Oh yea, you get a wanted level as you blow up enemy ships, but rather than the red and blue coming after you, you get pirate hunters chasing you.
Outside of the single player experience, multiplayer continues to deliver a truly enjoyable experience. Go it alone against other players or team up in the new Wolfpack mode and bring down devastation with your friends. You unlock different abilities as you progress and it keeps adding to the fun. There are a variety of characters to select from and all have fun, creative ways to assassinate your prey.
The scenery is beautiful, the historical cities and people are fantastic, and the story is amazing. I played on the Playstation 4, but Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has also been released on PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. If you haven’t played any of the games in the franchise, you’ll be a bit behind on the overall story arc and maybe a little confused but it’s still worth a pick-up purely for the gameplay. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you’re going to love the direction the story takes and you’ll be in for a rollercoaster ride of piracy, treasure, and rum. So drink up me hearties, check out our comic reviews, and play this game!