Hands-On With Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag


After the last two disappointing console releases, my perception of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is in the toilet. The series has hit the point of saturation where the annual release schedule not only wears me out, but the quality of the product suffers for it. In particular, Assassin’s Creed III was a buggy mess that still would have fallen short of the mark had it been bug-free.

I want to believe that a jump to next gen is the kick in the pants that this franchise needs, but so far, this doesn’t look like it.

The demo I played at Fan Expo was fairly straightforward. You start out on a pirate ship with the goal of destroying a fortress on shore. There are pirate ships trying to stop you from doing so, which you’ll have to take out as well. Pirate battles felt exactly the same as the previous game for better or worse. When the other ships get close, you could hop away from the steering wheel, jump onto the other pirate ship and kill the enemies. Combat also plays as you would expect, right down to it having basically the exact same animations for every move.

The one interesting thing I noted from the demo was an event that happened after I cleared off an enemy ship. The crew asked me if I wanted to repair our ship or take over this one, which I believe is the first time in the series where the game actually gives you that type of choice. Curious to see how far they go with decision trees.

I get that this is a very small vertical slice of a game that isn’t completed, but it did little to reinvigorate my interest in the franchise. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag plays nearly identically to its predecessor while looking almost the same too. If it weren’t for the slightly higher-res visuals, this would look like a current gen game. Don’t even believe the screenshots I used, which look way better than what the game looks like in real-life. I’ll pass on this year’s iteration and hope that the real next generation leap is coming sooner rather than later.


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