asscreedblackflag Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag Review (PS4)

The Assassin’s Creed franchise takes to the high seas. Come aboard and read our review.

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Nov. 15, 2013
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: Action Adventure
MSRP: $59.99

Avast ye scalliwags, set sail and raise the Black Flag!

Assassin’s Creed IV is one of the Playstation 4’s launch titles that adequately reflect the console’s raw power and refined finesse, and remains one of the premiere must-have games for the next-gen era. Every single moment–whether its cannon-fights across the high seas or cut-scenes–is captured in crystal clear fidelity, showcasing a new age of console gaming.

The game itself is so filled with content that gamers can lose themselves in the 18th Century Caribbean for quite some, only to find they’re not even half-way done with the main quest. There is a huge variety of side missions and alternate objectives that compliment the main quest, and the modern day sequences balance out the plundering glory of Kenway’s crew quite well.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag propels the definitive franchise into the next generation of console gaming while also sending a fresh new wave of vitality through the series. The title’s historical back-drop is a compelling and unique period, providing a seamless blend of open-world exploration with the political-driven war between the Assassins and the Templars that has spanned centuries.

AC4 Brethren of Nassau Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag Review (PS4)

Black Flag introduces iconic faces and pirates of the era including Blackbeard (on Kenway’s right) who ally with our privateer to make a steadfast and deadly alliance.

Welcome to the golden age of piracy

Black Flag‘s story arc marries compelling tale-spinning with the series’ distinct blend of historical influence. The game chronicles Edward Kenway’s rise to fame within the heyday of the Golden Age of Piracy, and captures distinct landmark areas across the West Indies during this period in stunning detail–from Havana to Nassau and everywhere in between.

The plot is quite dynamic and layered; within we find Kenway impersonating a high-ranking Templar assassin, and learns of a mysterious artifact known as the Observatory. The shadowy overtones fit right in with Ubisoft’s cryptic underlying storylines involving the Precursors, and there are plenty of sociopolitical themes thrown into the mix as well.

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This image perfectly captures the spread of piracy across the West Indies, featuring a lively firefight between the renegade pirates and the Spanish armada.

Ubisoft captures an era of history in stunning detail, maintaining the realism of the warring nations while fully encapsulating the anarchical spread of piracy across the West Indies. The studio fleshes out the Eighteenth Century with actual pirates like James Kidd and Blackbeard, who join up with Kenway to make an alliance of sorts.

Armed with a crew and his ship, the Jackdaw, the ambitious, silver-tongued privateer-turned-pirate-captain sets out to find the truth behind the mysterious Observatory and to do what he does best: spread chaos.

AC4 Bounty Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag Review (PS4)

The UI is streamlined and simplified, providing a clear and concise HUD without any clutter.

The basics: UI, crafting and quests

Black Flag‘s game mechanics aren’t too varied from the traditional open-world elements we’ve come to expect from the franchise. The basics are still the same with a blend between open-world exploration, action-packed combat and stealthy strategy. You’ll also find that Edward is just as spry and agile as Ezio and Connor in climbing structures and performing sneaky assassinations.

The general UI has been more streamlined and refined to make things less complicated, with simplified interfaces for weapon selections, menus, and the in-game map.

Everything is explained in a clear and concise manner, and hitting Options brings up the main menu. Here you can craft things like pistol holsters, armor upgrades, and other miscellaneous helpful additions. You can also view upgrades for your ship and even check your progress tracker.

AC4 Menu Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag Review (PS4)

The main menu serves as the central hub, featuring crafting, upgrades, resources and the expansive Animus datatbase. The map, however, is accessed through the DualShock 4’s interactive touchpad.

Crafting is pretty straightforward in AC4. There are different tiers for any given set of upgrades, all of which require pelts from various wildlife across the West Indies. The stronger upgrades require exotic and rare pelts, adding an extra freeform objective to the mix.

There’s a huge offering of side quests and missions to complete whilst juggling the main quest objectives, which means there won’t really ever be a dull moment. That’s the best part about Black Flag; there’s so much to do and everything is engaging–even jumping across tree limbs to snag shanties or hunting fauna for crafting recipes can be fun.