AC4: Blackflag The Review

The Assassin’s Creed Franchise has been one of the predominant action series for the past generation, and with the new consoles on the market it wasn’t a surprise that one of the launch titles would be a new installment in the series. Being one of those milked out franchizes on an annual release schedule, one could safely say that the series was in dire need of a change, and although Assassin’s Creed 3 brought a new historical perspective to the equation, it still wasn’t enough. That is why Blackflag made use of the praised Naval battles sequences in AC 3, and evolved on it. But then again did they go overboard? Is this the title that breaks off the predictive and repetitive gameplay of the series?

Audio and Video: Blackflag was fortunate enough to hit the shelves just in time for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One launches, but then again, the team was unfortunate enough to have to cater for an extra two platforms with such a small timeframe. Blackflag looks good on the Playstation 3 and 360, very similar to the previous title, but a bit more refined in the environmental design, which seems to cater more for the stealth aspect of the gameplay. However on the PS4 and Xbox One, one might find it a bit more difficult to see the key differences that set the generations apart. It might be harder to be blown away by the visuals on the new consoles after playing an exclusive, for example Killzone Shadowfall, but at least the extra power results in less loading times. There tends to be some minimal ghosting in high speed sequences specifically on the main character of the game, which is disappointing. The environments are huge; I mean the map spans on several different settings and there is a hell of a lot of stuff to see and do in every single corner of the map. The audio segment of the game, just like the rest of the titles, is good, yet nothing to write home about. The surround effects are good and well-presented yet there are some instances where voice overs fail, or the sound effects randomly cut off.

Gameplay: This is the key element in a game which either makes or breaks a title, and although I had high expectations for the game, a part of me always knew that old habits die hard. The naval battles and exploration sequences have been improved, and a new strategic element has been introduced to the game, giving traveling a whole new dynamic that helps the pacing of the game. The sheer size of the map and locations of the main missions though feel like they mean for the user to focus on the naval sequences, which after some time tends to become boring and repetitive, and since fast travel requires loading, you end up opting to travel. The non-naval sequences are a lot of the same. The platforming has been improved and better puzzles have been improved, but again after you invest some hours in the game, everything becomes too repetitive. Yes there are a vast number of side missions and activities to do both at sea and on the ground, but they tend to be different shades of the same stuff, and break you away from the main story line, ruining the narration of the story. I encountered several glitches in the game, including invisible walls, getting stuck in combat stance and not being able to move, or else remain perpetually hovering between the sea, a boat, and a wall till you reset your console. Just like the previous titles I don’t like the free-running mechanics, mainly because there are so many items to interact with that you sometimes get stuck to stuff whilst chasing someone, or end up doing an action you clearly did not intend to do.

Personal Experience: I can’t say I did not enjoy this experience, because I would be lying. The game is good, and the core of it is simple piratey fun. Keeping in mind what they achieved in the short time span, I was actually impressed by the game. But I have to admit that I was disappointed too, not at the development team, but at the cash cow mentality of the publisher who turned this franchise into an annual release, leaving little or no room for improvement and creativity. I seriously think that given a proper amount of time for development, this title could have been properly polished, and the map would have been more similar to the GTA V; No Loading when traveling within the map, space to introduce more innovations, and enough time between titles in order not to feel like the series is stagnant and reached the point of no return!

Overall Rating: 7/10

Written By: Matthew C