Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag follows the story of Edward Kenway, the grandfather of Connor Kenway. Starting off the coast of Cape Bonista near Cuba, you engage a small fleet of British ships holding the traitorous assassin Duncan Walpole. After he kills Walpole after being stranded with him, Kenway assumes his identity to finish Walpole’s mission of delivering documents that could help end the Assassins. After meeting with Torres, the Templar grand master and governor of Cuba, you learn of a device called the Observatory, a First Civilization artifact that can observe anyone in the entire world so long that you have a sample of his or her blood, as well as a man called the Sage, who is rumored to be the only one who can find the device.
After the Templars find out that you killed the real Duncan Walpole, the send you to the Treasure Fleet to be escorted to….to….look, I have no idea where the heck they wanted to send you. All I know is, you escape with the help of Adewale, a slave turned pirate, capture a brig and escape the fleet, all in the middle of a hurricane! Later you meet with Captain Edward Thatch, aka Black Beard, Captain James Kidd, the son of the famous Captain Kidd, and Captain Charles Vane, who if he had a thing, I’m sure it’s related to his sideburns. You learn the basics of pillaging and plundering from these three and you set off on a search for the Observatory, crossing swords with Assassins, more so with Templars, and slaughtering the British and Spanish navies who get in your way.
However, in the real world, you are an Abstergo Entertainment employee in the Sample 17 Division. Every now and then, you get a call from John, the IT guy, who asks you for a favor, generally to hack into a computer and give whatever info you got to a courier. As you do this, you learn that Abstergo is run by the Templars, and that John is an Assassin.
The gameplay itself is very good.
The movement is comparable to the game’s predecessor; Assassin’s Creed 3. It is easier to run around and climb things, unless Edward does the stupid thing that has been inherited throughout the entire line and misinterprets a command or avoids the midair collectables called Animus fragments. Chasing the shanties, which are the new almanac pages, are a prime example that the game follows a semi-linear free run path in the city, and most definitely when running up trees. Now I have no idea what it was like in Assassin’s Creed one, two and Revelations, but I know that it was more fun to do it in Brotherhood.
The combat is very good, but to be honest, it’s the same as Assassin’s Creed 3. The guards are only slightly more difficult, but only because it’s a sequel. I miss being able to wield whatever style of weapon I wanted, even if it was mostly just swords. Dual wielding swords is fun and all, but it shouldn’t be the only option available. The guns, however, are still fun to use, with a bit of a wider variety in choice and quicker reload. Using the two different poisons also aided in my stealth missions. The sleep darts were useful in dealing with gunners whom I found annoying from the start. The berserk darts were the most fun to use as I used them against the elite and brute guards. The rope darts were downgraded so that whenever you used one in combat, it was the same as using a bullet. Honestly, I’m not going to complain about that as Ubisoft probably realized that players could only use the ones they got from Achilles. I will complain about how late in the game we get them.
The naval gameplay had built up a reputation in Assassin’s Creed 3, and enhanced it in Black Flag. With the limited ability to angle your round shots to using mortars and mines, the arsenal has greatly improved. Heavy shots to pummel your victims up close and mortars to catch anyone trying to flee, you have a three-hundred-sixty degree radius of pain. However, the chain shots have been so nerfed, all they can do is stun a ship that is in front of the Jackdaw, and the grapeshot I so loved to use against the schooners and gunboats that challenged the Aquila in three, have been removed entirely. Despite all of that, the combat has obviously seen much improvement. The Jackdaw also comes with the ability to customize what the sails, wheel and figurehead look like. Sailing around is made entertaining with the shanties your crew sing while not in combat. And boarding disabled ships is much more exciting as you get to use swivel gun to bombard your targets before going over there yourself.
The ability to recruit and send out Assassins in Brotherhood and three has always been one of my most favorite parts in the game. However, it was replaced by a version in which you have to capture ships to send out on missions. You can’t even level up those ships! You have to replace them with other more powerful ships. Although I’m not going to complain why you can’t call on your fleet to aid you in battle. It’s easy to explain that your assassins are stalkers that follow your every move in the cities. However, where the heck are your ships supposed to come from? The sky? Actually, that would be fun to see. Raining man of wars to freak out…Wait, pretend you didn’t hear that.
Now for the out-of-game features.
The companion app is very useful if you don’t want to waste time checking your map to look up the nearest contract, chest or objective is. And the ability to send out Kenway’s fleet from your phone is useful when your on the high seas waiting to get to where you need to go or if you don’t have the time to get on your Xbox One. It’s also makes it easier to bring up treasure maps and check your progress. The only downside I see is that it’s only available for Android and iPhone.
ACinitiates.com is a companion site that links to your Uplay account. It gives you missions that link to actions in the game and on the site. It also gives you new items to go with your ship after you complete a couple of missions. It gives you a full timeline from Altiar’s time to the present.
I honestly haven’t used enough of both the app and the website to give you a full review, but I do recommend that you check them out.
Now, for the scores!
The story itself gets a 9 assassins out of 10 assassins.
The free-running falls 7 times out of 10.
Land combat gets a 8 dead guards out of 10 dead guards.
The naval gameplay gets a man-of-war out of a gunboat. That’s a 20 out of 5 in my case.
Kenway’s Fleet gets a crate of rum. Not out of anything, just a crate of rum. Why? Because I darn feel like it.
The companion app and site gets a 10 out of 10 because they do what they say they can do.
Over all, the game gets a 9.5 out of 10. No, I’m not averaging, I’m just giving it what I think it gets. I
I hope my English teacher doesn’t read this and give me a bad grade.