Building (Critical) Consensus: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (PS3 / 360)

I’ll make an admission before we go on. I was so bored with the story in AC: Revelations that I stopped playing part way through. I just couldn’t do it. I don’t think I made it more than a couple of hours in AC3 either. I went about as completionist as I had this side of Mass Effect or the PS1 & PS2 Final Fantasy games in the first three AC games but couldn’t will myself to even finish the two most recent.

A lot of critics hail AC4 as a return to form for the franchise with a focus on an increase in the general fun in the series thanks to piracy and the pirate-themed story. Mind you, there were quite a few reviewers lamenting that little had changed mechanically in this game when compared to the previous games in the franchise. If you’ve played previous AC games and loved them, you’ll probably love this one too. For those who fell, out of love… Do you like pirates?

The Escapist (100%): While Black Flag feels very much like an Assassin’s Creed game, its gameplay reminds me more of Sid Meier’s Pirates! wrought in glorious 3D. As in that classic game, you are free to sail wherever your heart desires, and be as dastardly or as benign as you like. Embodying Edward Kenway and living through his adventures on the seas, while also experiencing his struggle with Assassins and Templars alike, is pure escapist delight. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag offers an excellently designed sandbox in the golden age of piracy.

Eurogamer (90%): But the developers have worked around the series’ foibles brilliantly. The obligatory present-day sections of the game are a case in point, showing you behind the Templar curtain and telling a neat short story that ties into Edward’s adventures and keeps you sated, even though it doesn’t advance the meta-narrative that much. Back in the 1700s, clumsy mechanics are downplayed in favour of the thrill of the open sea, where everything feels fresh and exciting. If I ever felt down while roaming rooftops, I just answered the call of the ocean and everything was right with the world again.

Gaming Trend (85%): Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag has everything from the previous games and so much more. The overall polish has improved, and there is more fun to be had in this iteration than any previous. It no longer feels like a forced checklist, instead offering players the freedom to partake, skip, or mix and match as much as they see fit. The naval combat remains challenging and exciting for the entirety of the game, and this drives the continued value beyond the already-expansive single player experience. The multiplayer is just icing on an already-filling and wonderful tasting cake.

National Post (80%): It’s not so much what has been added that makes Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag good – but rather, what it lacks. Assassin’s Creed III was a grim game. The world was grim, and its protagonist grimmer. Strip away the environment, and you’re left with the sea. Strip away the American Revolution, and you’re left with humour and plunder of a lawless pirate war. It’s a welcome change – but it also deviates a little too far from the Assassin’s Creed DNA. The core mechanics are there, yes, but after ACIII, it’s been hard not to wonder how much is left to say? (60%): Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s probably the show’s weakest games. It’s about as good as one would expect, but since it has now reached six games in six years beginning concept to stagnate. The series made a giant step from the first to the second issue, but the development of the games have not been particularly strong since. The story outside Animus machine is also the weakest so far.

About Steve Murray

Steve is the founder and editor of The Lowdown Blog and et geekera. On The Lowdown Blog, he often writes about motorsports, hockey, politics and pop culture. Over on et geekera, Steve writes about geek interests and lifestyle. Steve is on Twitter at @TheSteveMurray.

Posted on October 31, 2013, in Games and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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