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Sunday, March 16, 2014
[Review] Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
[ZOMBiE CyGiG] ranted at 5:15 PM --- Post#5691143349417051615

8/10 Excellent

Many would say AC4 is the best in the series, and I would agree with them, although the game is generally on the positive side, it is not without certain crippling issues.

First of all, Black Flag sped up on the basics, Edward already possess a dual blade, able to air assassinate and unlocks his pistol and cutlass within the first hour into the game. The game stop treating the gamers like idiot by integrating most tutorials seamlessly into the gameplay instead of going through long winded training which teaches skills the players may not utilize much later. You can refer back to the in game menu should you need a refresher course later on. This made previous players of AC able to jump into the game faster.

Naval combat is intense, rewarding and somewhat educational. Although a lot of tweaks were done to make the game fun in lieu of being realistic, one can easily visualize and learn the gist of naval battle in ancient times. Some realism sacrifices include speeding up the movement of boats tremendously, decreasing the turning radius, much reduced weather effects, weapons on deck for "coolness" sake and immediate and consistent sail controls. Still, it helps gamers to understand how chain-shot were used to demast ships, how crews can throw hooked rope to draw the enemy ship to yours for boarding and how the main cannons are located on the broadside so that you can put in more of them. Since the sailing speed is sped up, attack and chasing down enemy ships are intense and fun. The satisfaction comes once you destroyed the enemy's ship and board it to end the battle.

Hunting now makes much more sense. No baits or traps are involved like in AC3. Your attack animals like how you attack human enemies. The animals will free roam the area and it is up to you to think of a way to hunt them - run and wack, air assassinate, sneak from cover, pistol snipe, sleep darts etc. Like in Far Cry 3, you can either sell the loots from a hunted animal, or use it to craft upgrades. This is more satisfying that just using the in game money to buy upgrades - though that is also possible by buying animal parts.

Your regular weapon shops are back - you can buy ammo, weapons and armour from these shops, which I remembered to be absent in AC3. You can also invest money to open one of those shops in they are not there in the area.

However, there is no real benefit from upgrading your weapons. I manage to beat the game with the first cutlass i bought. There is only one kind of main weapon - cutlasses, no axe, no hammer or those fanciful ancient times weapons. They cost a lot to upgrade but the rewards from upgrading is not really satisfying - not as much as upgrading ship parts.

Combat is still too simplified as usual, and it seems like they up the difficulty level by simply making the enemy attack more powerful. You mash the attack buttons for regular enemies or you counter or disarm depending on enemy type. Most of it is just a matter of timing. Time it well and even the lousiest cutlass kills, off timing will result in a huge loss of health. If the combat are so simplified, i would rather have it easy than purposefully increasing enemy's attack damage to enjoy having multiple kill streaks.

The main story is nothing special, nothing touching. Most of the time I lose track of why the characters are doing and simply following along the missions. It was the same for previous assassin's creed, where I would simply not remember the story line weeks after completing the game.

The modern day assassin part was lackluster compared to the past games. You no longer apply your skills you learn into modern day and you are stuck in your office playing mini games to simulate hacking of computers.

One thing I missed from the previous assassin's creed series was taking down towers. It has been replaced by taking down forts but the experience of sneaking up a tower and slowly eliminating the occupants is never the same.

Technical issues plague the PC port as usual, with only one CPU core doing the work and not fully utilizing my GPU. I can only play with 30 fps even if I lower my resolution to 720p on my GTX560Ti.

Overall, the pirate experience is something new in the gaming scene. The game mechanics had been refined over the past series and the presentation is top notch. Naval battles are well designed and fun. Movement from ship to land are usually seamless. Overly simplified combat, average storyline and technical issues prevented the game from shining as bright as it should be.

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