Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (PS4) Review
The definitive version of the game
A big portion of this review appeared in our PS3 version review of Asssassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag.
Now that the PlayStation 4 is finally out in North America, one of the games PS4 owners can purchase right of the bat is Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. If you are one of those people that waited for the next-gen version of the game, I must say that your patience paid off as you will be playing the definitive version of the game. Content-wise, there’s really no difference between the PS3 and PS4 version. However, what many are wondering is how it performs on the PlayStation 4.
From the bloody American Revolution we saw in Assassin’s Creed 3, Black Flag now brings us the Golden Age of Pirates in the early 1700s across the many islands of the Caribbean. You take the role of Edward Kenway, a famous pirate seeking for gold and fame, who ends up being an Assassin after meddling in the business of the Templars. For fans who have played the third game, Edward Kenway is the father of Haytham and the grandfather of Connor Kenway, which makes him an ancestor of Desmond Miles. After seeing the fate of Desmond at the end of Assassin’s Creed 3, the research continues with his DNA under the supervision of Abstergo. With Desmond Miles no longer in the picture, you play as an employee of Abstergo who is tasked to find information about the “Observatory” in Edward’s memory that is supposed to give them power. What could this “Observatory” be?
In the plethora of sequences that you will go through in Black Flag, there are ups and downs in Edward’s story. Unlike the interesting time period told in previous Assassin’s Creed games, I must say that Black Flag has the most uninspired story. It’s not as compelling as the second and third game, although it has certain moments that shine. The first couple of sequences starts out in a bang where all kinds of questions will start to sink in but as you head to the end, that’s where it loses its touch. I’m not saying it gets bad down the road, but it loses that “moment” that I’ve found across all Assassin’s Creed games.
As a pirate of the 1700s, you will be traveling through the high seas of the Caribbean. To do that, you will be given a ship that you will name as Jackdaw. As the Captain of the Jackdaw, you will experience the life of a pirate through Kenway. Instead of hiring people to join your brotherhood, as found in past Assassin’s Creed titles, you are now tasked to build you own crew to help you in your adventure. Naval Battles are big in Black Flag and are executed very well. Going from one area to the other, your life is at risk from another band of pirates who are free to attack you. Thanks to the ship that you have, you have the ability to fight back through cannons and other equipment that you can customize for your ship.
Fighting through band of pirates are tough, therefore you will be needing to customize it. When it comes to customization, Black Flag goes all out. As you progress through the game, you will have access to different upgrade options that you can apply on your ship. Some can be crafted while others can be bought in ports and towns that you come across. Getting materials can be tough as you will need to pillage other ships that you encounter. This is where the Naval Ship battles shine. Whenever you are in need of materials that you can use for crafting or simply you want stuff to sell at the port like rum and sugar, you are free to pillage any ships that you see. Simply slow down your ship and start bombarding others. As the health bar of the ship reaches its critical stage, you have an option to hijack it and get 100% loot. Beware though, as certain ships can be tough to take down and you will need to rather wait till your ship have well geared.
When it comes to other things that you can do in the game, it’s pretty much the same rinse and repeat quests that you’ve done in past Assassin’s Creed titles. If you are not sailing, you will find yourself in an island doing either your mission which involves sneaking around and taking down targets, or strolling as you do side missions. Compared to the last entry of the series, Black Flag offers more things that you can do, which can get quite overwhelming but this is good in the same way. The typical assassin missions are there but with the ability of having a ship that allows you to roam the big open world, you are free to look for treasures that can be quite valuable, rescue strayed crew members that can join you, do underwater missions and collecting treasures through Naval Battles. As always, the boring collectible hunting are there, though the map will exactly tell you where to get them, saving you time.
Combat has been clunky for me ever since the first Assassin’s Creed game. Hoping that it would be improved by now, boy I was disappointed. The same problems that I found in previous titles are still apparent in Black Flag. The not-so-seamless combat can get annoying at times, especially when there are a group of people attacking you. The timed countering would work sometimes, but it won’t be accurate all of the time. As for sneaking, I must say that it’s still the same overall. The ability of not being able to sneak around is a pain in the butt especially if you are trying to do stealth objectives. Luckily, the AI is dumb as you can run around and make any noise as long as they don’t face you.
The main campaign should take roughly fifteen to twenty hours depending on the style of your play through. Those who want to do almost everything in the game are free to do the side missions that will greatly increase the play time and replayability of the game. Aside from the hunting and assassin’s contract missions, there are other things that you can in the game like sending out fleets to do missions for you. Depending on the ships that you have, you can send them out to get some important treasures or materials that you can use. Also, as long as you are connected online and have activated Uplay, you will be able to share some of your progress with your friends. You can see limited-time only events like a Royal Ship that you can pillage for the most rarest treasure. Pretty much, whenever you see a very rare item or event, it will automatically be shared online.
Playing Assassin’s Creed 4 on the PlayStation 4 will make you love the game even more. The visuals and aesthetics conveyed in the PS4 version are simply breathtaking. What you will see in the game is three times better than its PS3 counterpart. The landscape is more vivid, the water looks even more realistic, and the character models looks a lot better. One of the problems I’ve found in the PS3 version is how grainy some of the visuals are with pixels become apparent. In the PS4 version, you will not even need to worry about that as the game makes you think you are playing a PC game on its highest settings. The most apparent effects that is very noticeable are the weather effects and shadows. Whenever you are out pillaging other ships, you will see that the effects of fires looks sharper and the raindrops are visually apparent as you can see every droplet.