Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag” reviews are rolling in and so far the consensus is that this is a high seas pirating adventure that should be played, with the PS3 review version currently sitting at an
89 of 100 on Metacritic.
For those gamers who haven’t been paying attention for the last few years, the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise throws the player into the role of a typically stealthy time travelling assassin (Desmond Miles) who roams an open world set in historical time periods like The Third Crusade, 15th century Venice, Rome, Colonial America, and now with Black Flag as a new hero swashbuckling through the Caribbean islands and cities like Kingston and Havana in the early 18th century with pirates like Blackbeard, Calico Jack and Benjamin Hornigold.
A gamer favourite franchise, Black Flag has been a hotly anticipated title, releasing first on current generation systems PS3, Xbox 360, WiiU, and PCs, with upcoming releases on PS4 and Xbox One.
So far those reviews that have played Black Flag on both current gen and next gen consoles are saying there’s a noticeable leap in graphical quality between the versions. IGN says Black Flag has gorgeous visual on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but on a PS4 “the experience is even more impressive thanks to minimal loading and maximum draw distances that seem to go on for miles.”
And Shaun McInnis over at GameSpot claims that world that goes on for miles is an incredibly satisfying one to explore. “Black Flag doesn’t just present a beautiful world; it gives you a mountain of reasons to run off and go exploring.”
One of the biggest additions to the gameplay mechanics of the Assassin’s Creed universe in Black Flag is the ability to sail the high seas in a pirate ship, upgrading it and engaging in naval battles as you explore the world and visit any of the game’s 50 different locations.
“The naval battles in particular are excellent, and feel more positively integrated into the game [than in ‘Assassin’s Creed 3’],” says Sam Gill at The Independent.
Though in a less-than-glowing review, Arstechnica’s Sam Machkovech complains the sea battles aren’t all that difficult to figure out. “However, such dramatic open-seas battles also turn tepid over time, since the best tactic is simple and easy to repeat.”
But what about the treasure? No pirate game is complete without loads of treasure to be unearthed. Venturebeat’s McKinley Noble says you’ll find it everywhere.
Another new feature is the second-screen functionality, where you can sync gameplay and use your iOS or Android tablet where Ron Burke at Gamingtrend says “you can bring up the in-game map, set waypoints, and best of all use it as a treasure map display. How it extends beyond the game is via Kenway’s Fleet. As you capture ships and send them to your fleet you can use this application to send them on missions.”
Of the game’s size and time-to-completion, The Guardian’s Simon Parkin says, “It’s an exhausting, exhaustive proposal, and one that demands scores of hours’ investment from its player before it will give up all of its secrets.”
This is a massive game that could take a couple dozen hours to “complete,” and we say “complete” because with any open world game, there’s plenty of opportunity to revisit locations and try different things on different playthroughs. One doesn’t simply “complete” a game like “Skyrim” for example.
A great overall summation of Black Flag comes from Ludwig Kietzmann over at Joystiq, “Beyond its present-day feature set, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is a vibrant historical adventure, drawn from bold characters and edge-of-your-seat sailing. It’s not the proper return to form for the series, but it is a concerted acknowledgement of what that form is today, and what works for the monster of gameplay systems, stealth, ships and oceans that lurks underneath.”
Overall, “Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag” is looking like a winner around, regardless of system. Though, if you’ve got a PS4 or Xbox One on pre-order, you might consider waiting to play it on the next generation console that’s only just around the corner.
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