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.
Visually, the game looks phenomenal and stepping away from rural cities are a nice change of pace. Realism is once again depicted in Black Flag. When venturing through the high seas, you will surely enjoy the waves of the ocean as the sun shining right through you. The amazing weather system even makes it even more real as when a storm is coming, you must prepare to brace yourself to avoid dying in the middle of the ocean. Aside from sailing, you will also be going through different islands where the environments look very enthralling as you see the lush trees and the birds chirping to really capture the mood and attention. In terms of character models, not a lot has changed as it looks similar to the past Assassin’s Creed titles. Hiccups are there once in a while when it comes to performance. Expect frame drops here and there. Glitches are also apparent at some point and this shouldn’t be new to Assassin’s Creed titles are every game have this. Unfortunately, we cannot comment on how the next-gen Assassin’s Creed 4 performs since we reviewed it on the PlayStation 3.
The multiplayer portion of Black Flag didn’t evolve much. The same ones found in past titles are in Black Flag with only little improvement and additions added to it. It felt like the multiplayer feels the same one but it was still fun nonetheless. One change implemented in Black Flag’s multiplayer is Gamelab that allows you to create your own custom multiplayer maps – it’s fun for those who want to add flair to it but it’s not good enough to entice people. If you are fond of the Wolf Pack, you will be pleased to know that it’s back and yes, it’s still fun to play. My only gripe is that maps aren’t expansive enough to give players freedom to really move around.
In addition to the multiplayer portion, there’s another new feature that Ubisoft implemented and it’s the feedback system. For every memory that you complete in each sequence, you will be able to rate it and give a score up to five stars. This feature will allow gamers to give feedback to the developers and see how they did in terms of the gameplay design for every memory, as long as you are connected online through their UPlay servers.
Since the series has become an annual franchise, it’s hard not to notice that every game that gets released is more of the same thing. It’s true that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag may follow this trend, but the flair that Ubisoft added makes it stand among its competition, allowing the game to evolve every year. In the case of Black Flag, the game once again succeeds everyone expectations when it comes to the overall gameplay by adding Naval Battles and a very big open-world where you can do a lot of things. However, when it comes to the story, it’s not as strong as the past titles but it’s decent enough to get you through the very end.
[Editor’s Note: Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag was reviewed on the PS3 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]