Ubisoft Montreal’s latest Assassin’s Creed game breaks out of the traditional plot and setting and introduces the pirate-infested Caribbean of 1715, which had plenty of legends such as Blackbeard looting, pillaging and raiding islands like there’s no tomorrow in search of treasures untold. Although this is in stark contrast to the previous titles, once you start the game, you realize the core mechanics of the game remain the same, ensuring that both old timers and newcomers alike have something to chew on.
The game sees a new protagonist (again) named Edward Kenway, who happens to be an ancestor of Connor (Assassin’s Creed III). Kenway starts out like any other Assassin’s Creed hero. Being a Privateer, he’s unhappy with the life he’s leading and desires to explore the unseen waters in order to experience adventure and acquire riches. However, Kenway is soon seen engulfed in a lot more than what he signed up for. Welcome to being a pirate, Aye?
The one thing you notice as you start playing Black Flag is that you can pretty much travel across the map from the get go, something which previous Assassin’s Creed games prevented you from doing so. You also have access to your own trusty ship very early in the game, in which you can set sail to any place you want. This kind of freedom takes you by surprise and makes it easy to get lost, however, this is a welcome change according to me.
The Assassins Creed games are known to contain a complex and interesting plot, and Black Flag is no different, however when compared, it does seem to falter as there are just too many things happening at once. The templars as always are a menace, and now on top of it, there are pirates like Blackbeards and numerous others who’re equally plotting and evil, things seems to get confusing. Even Kenway doesn’t derive the same charm that an Ezio or Altair did, as he lacks substance and you don’t really feel for him.
However, the gameplay and fun activities that the game has on offer makes up for it with ease. From plundering rival ships for gold, to exploring islands and more, Black Flag is a sea-faring adventure unlike any other before it. If you ever fancied being a pirate, this game won’t disappoint you. Apart from the main campaign, the game offers you with a bevy of options, right from sailing to remote islands, to discovering hidden coves and treasure maps and raiding forts; everything that a pirate desires for is there. Your ship Jackdaw is a game in itself and you’ll soon find yourself spending hours completing side quests, setting sail upon it.
Black Flag also has a fair bit of experiences which would be common for any real sea-faring adventurer out there. Right from going underwater to discover sunken ships and corals, while overcoming the threat of Jelly Fishes and sharks, to going to specific hunting quests in search for bigger prize to hunting land animals for fur, Black Flag has it all, and it’s a joy to carry out these tasks.
However, the adventurous setting and the protagonist being a pirate proves to be too much at times. Especially, when Kenway slips into his Assassin’s attire to carry out what is the job of his lineage. These sequences pale in comparison to the other aspects of the game and it kind of takes away from the experience of being an Assassin. The naval aspects of Black Flag remain its anchor point and nothing can be compared to the enjoyment derived from it.
The game looks absolutely beautiful and the sea looks welcoming and all the textures are spot on. The scenic beauty of the Caribbean is a sight to behold and this is easily one of the best looking multi-plat games on the last-gen consoles (I’m talking about PS3 and Xbox 360, btw). The game switches between sandy beaches to lush green jungles with equal ease as it does between blue open seas and underwater zones with sunken ships and lost treasures. Needless to say, everything looks breathtaking and you never feel like it’s below par.
Multiplayer wise, Black Flag can’t be termed as a major upgrade, with just a few improvements here and there to keep things fresh. The four-player Wolfpack mode is worthy of a mention as it’s super fun to play if you’ve some good mates to tag with. The multiplayer feels as a rushed add-on at best and is definitely not the selling point for the game by any means. However, it was meant to be that way right from the start. We’re talking about a open-world game here.
All in all, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag is a welcome addition to the series and thankfully focuses more on being a pirate and the adventures attached with being one than trying to hopelessly take the story forward. A wise move considering how it peaked with Assassin’s Creed III. The series is becoming old with each new installment but Black Flag isn’t going to be the game which saw the end of it. It still manages to offer you hours of fun and provides you with a setting which has enough freshness to merit a purchase.