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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (PC) Review

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People love the Assassin’s Creed series, that is why Ubisoft keeps making them. Their rich backstory and unique take on retelling history has given gamers 7 games to play featuring 5 different assassins. While people are still waiting for their modern day assassin, Ubisoft has worked their way into the pirate age of history. Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag features new characters and a new look at Abstergo.

The year is 1715. Pirates rule the Caribbean and have established their own lawless Republic where corruption, greediness and cruelty are commonplace. Among these outlaws is a brash young captain named Edward Kenway. His fight for glory has earned him the respect of legends like Blackbeard, but also drawn him into the ancient war between Assassins and Templars, a war that may destroy everything the pirates have built.

I would be the first to say that I did not like the story of the first four Assassin’s Creed games. The characters, like Desmond, did not feel like they had much “life” put into their development. Sure there is that snarky british guy who is there for a laugh with his accent and cynical sarcasm but the characters didn’t feel, unique. The same goes for Altair and Ezio. They were just so blegh, and it only got worse with Connor, who was the epitome of robotic. Hell, even Wall-E had more emotion. To be honest, I was surprised about the story of Black Flag, the main character Edward actually makes it good. He is a pirate first, even when he becomes an assassin, he always takes the his rules, over someone else’s, and I like that. The previous characters always felt so enlightened and had a massive sense of purpose when they became assassins. I guess it was the way they became accepted into the order, Edward’s initiation was a way different compared to Altair and Ezio’s.

The way you play AC4 has not changed. You will travel around the city finding chests, assassination contracts, and revealing the map with sync points. On the PC these feel tedious due to the keyboard/mouse controls. The Assassin’s Creed series has not done well on PC due to the controls and the fact this game was developed for consoles and they are strict ports. If you do get this game on PC be sure you have a gamepad to play with. The gameflow is akin to Assassin’s Creed 3 where you finish everything in one city and use your ship to go to another city. The game feels much bigger than AC3 though, therefore it makes the game seem like there is more to do.

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There are some side stuff you can do like whaling so you can earn money (you will need it for ship upgrades) but despite the many ways to earn money, it still feels like a tedious task. Ship battles are another way to earn money because you can commandeer rival ships after they have been destroyed a certain amount and loot their cargo which could be sold etc. The ship battles and controls are much better in Black Flag than it was in AC3. Not to mention the random weather feature feels more infrequent than scheduled like before. So these improvements are welcomed since the issues with the first two AC games was how bloody repetitive they are.

Combat has been improved in terms of swordplay. Since the success of Arkham Asylum/ Arkham City/ Sleeping Dogs melee combat functions off a more responsive counter/parry/kill system. While certain actions like killing someone right when you counter will be a good idea, if there are multiple people fighting you the animations for killing can leave you open. So in this sense fighting has become more of a thinking game than building a kill streak and murdering 20 guards in 2 minutes. The gunplay has been improved as well, and slightly more accurate. In the days of gunpowder guns it took a long time to reload, roughly 1:30 minutes it would take a rifleman to reload his weapon. In terms of pistols it still took way longer than inserting a new clip and calling it good. The new system allows you to carry more than one pistol so that when you kill the ammo of one pistol, you can make another shot by grabbing a second or third pistol that is loaded. Afterwards you obviously have to reload but given the situations it is a big improvement. Again, on PC some of the combat is difficult due to the keyboard/mouse controls.

In regards to the visuals and audio quality this is the best looking and sounding Assassin’s Creed title to date. I waited a while to write this review for PC because the game continued to crash and textures would not load properly, since then the game has been patched and fixed. Comparing the PC and PS4 visuals there are little differences in quality since this is all HD anyway. If you have a PC that can run AC4 and you don’t have a PS4 or Xbox One than PC is the way to go. The visual differences for PC and PS3/360 are very different and noticeable.

I would have to say Black Flag still has pacing issues and the game almost doesn’t feel right on PC. As much of an improvement this game is than previous games on PC it just doesn’t feel native and it is just a straight port. Due to the size of the game, it gives off this feeling of “Man I have to go all the way over there?” Fast travel is available but not while in cities. It almost feels too big, and yes there is such a thing, go play Just Cause 2 and you will understand what I am talking about.

My final verdict for Black Flag is this, the game is a large upgrade from previous games like Revelations and Assassin’s Creed 3 however, the game flow and pacing still feels very sluggish and earning money for upgrades still has no balance. The visuals are nice but they are not a selling point for the game. This is a game that doesn’t necessarily feel right on PC and I must incorporate that into my score for the game. I give Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag for the PC a 6.5/10 because it does not feel right on PC due to the controls and the game itself is very sluggish. You can get it on Uplay or Steam now.

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