Monday, April 7, 2014
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Xbox 360 Review
I'm happy to say Assassin's Creed IV takes this formula and vastly improves it. I will start with the story and work my way around to the finer details. The story centers around the down-on-his-luck type of pirate named Edward Kenway, which would make him the Grandfather of Connor the protagonist from AC III. The beginning of the game starts with the ship Edward is on being attacked by an unknown assassin. When the ship crash lands on a island Edward chases the assassin down and finds himself in the middle of an ancient war between the order of Assassin's and the Templars. The story is well constructed and all the NPC's you will come across in your adventures around the Caribbean feel engaging and interesting. You get the sense that all around you there is mystery and another plot twist is just around the corner. The narrative also manages to tie up the Kenway lineage in a nice fashion.
Once you have gained some ships you can then send them on small missions which take place in a turn-based mechanic that you will seldom ever fail at. This is probably one of my biggest gripes about the game, this mechanic really feels useless in the grand scheme of things. You can control it using an Android or IOS device and it functions pretty well on those, but I seldom found myself using it outside of when I needed it to open up something else in the game. Also Ubisoft used the cheap mechanic of by making waterways safe, they become quickly overrun again sometimes literally 2 minutes after you secured it, which in-turn forces you to keep plugging away at a never ending, and boring mechanic that pulls you out of the main game.
The exploration in the game is probably the most vast in the game's history, there is so much to do and see that you really can get lost in it. You can explore all the various islands of the Caribbean, and once you gain the upgrade for your ship you can use the diving bell to explore beautifully detailed and engaging underwater segments. You can also engage in spearing sharks and whales, which feels cool the first couple times you do it, but quickly becomes an expendable throw in. There are the usual extra areas to explore such as smuggler's dens, forts, and plantations that you can clear for more supplies. I really never tired of exploring and doing the optional missions. The world AC IV takes place in, is honestly one of the best in franchise.
The game continues add multiplayer to the mix, giving you all the same mechanics found in AC III. The multiplayer plays exactly as it has in previous titles, so, if you didn't like it before, then you still won't like it now. Players still run around aimlessly with little to no care for stealth or mission objectives. I have never really been in to AC multiplayer, and this game didn't change my mind any. I played it for achievements and pretty much nothing else. Speaking of achievements, there are nice and varied, not terribly difficult, but adding enough challenge to the package to keep you playing. They added a social aspect, allowing you to share locations of White Whales or Treasure Chests, but I found that unless you have many friends playing through Uplay you will not find very many of these. I really wish they would have made this portion a little more accessible, I had one friend who was actively playing when I was, and I have yet to come across a "Social Chest", nor did his Uplay feed ever reflect when he found anything or when I did. Uplay is a nice extra feature, but in trying to make it more tied to the game they just made it annoying.