The Assassins Creed games have always played it safe ever since the release of Assassins Creed 2 way back in 2009. Every game has followed a character run around a small part of the world, climbing around buildings and riding on horseback. Assassins Creed Black Flag throws that to the wind, and sets out to make not only the best Assassins Creed game, but one of the most enjoyable pirate games ever.
Black Flag changes up the formula from the outset. The main character, Edward Kenway, isn’t an assassin, he isn’t a Templar. Edward’s just a pirate, and an awesome pirate at that. Edward defeats a Templar early in the game and thus dons the assassins’ robes in order to infiltrate the Templar ranks to become a rich man. The line between good and evil is blurred from the beginning in Black Flag, Kenway isn’t out to save the world or protect any country, he’s out for glorious gold, and he’s willing to kill for it.
The first few hours of the game take it slow, having Kenway fake his way into a Templar settlement in Cuba, here he learns all the moves that make Assassins and Templar a thing to fear. Once the player gets to grips with moving on land, they are arrested and placed on a ship, a ship that Kenway then takes over with his fellow prisoners. From here on out the game opens up and becomes a massive open sea for players to explore in hopes of becoming a wealthy pirate.
The land gameplay remains largely the same as the previous Assassins Creed games, with stealth and climbing still being the main focus of most missions. But once on water, everything changes up. The game becomes an open world ship adventure with incredibly fun combat and tight controls. The sea combat is a joy to take part in, with cannons firing at every angle, and crew mates yelling out ship weak points to deal extreme damage. The ship combat is one of the most entertaining and pleasing things around, being able to climb the mainsail and leap onto the enemy ship to pillage their cargo is one of the most exhilarating and pleasurable feelings in any game this year.
We got to play the PS3 version of Black Flag, and even on a 6 year old system Black Flag looks good. Not great, but good. This isn’t The Last of Us or anything, but it’s a good looking game. The worlds draw distance is fast and consistently good looking, there is some foliage pop in when running around larger areas, but it’s nothing that’s going to stop players from having a good time. What should be noted are the marvelous water effects, the water trails that Kenway makes with his hands when walking ripple and flow along the water with such beauty, the game challenges Bioshock’s PC water effects, they’re that good. What makes everything even nicer is that there is practically no slowdown throughout the whole game.
Black Flag is a great time, and this is helped largely by the fact the game doesn’t take itself seriously. Imagine Pirates of the Caribbean and old Assassins Creed had a seafaring child, that would be Black Flag. Characters are bonkers and off the wall, missions are over the top and bombastic, and the world is booming with whacky things to do. What makes all of this even better is the magnificent sound track that sounds like a compilation of every great pirate song in existence, a highlight are the sea shanties that the crew sing while at sea, they are so festive and catchy it’s impossible to not sing along.
Black Flag proves that series aren’t chained down to their previous entries, as it goes to show that being an assassin doesn’t mean being a slow law abiding killer, but it can mean being a fantastical pirate who lives on the sea for the sheer thrill. Personal stories of epic moments will be told by all players, and everyone will want to sing along to shanties while on a long haul to Kingston. Black Flag is an incredible experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Black Flag is available now for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii U and PC
This review was originally posted on http://www.marcusbronzy.com/