Assassin’s Creed – the franchise that just won’t quit. It seems there is always a new Assassin’s Creed coming out. I feel like I have said this before… Anyway, moving on to my second Assassin’s Creed review, this is the game that made me start to dislike the series. By now, fans such as myself, realized that they were milking this series – so they did something extreme to try and keep our attention. Which, to this gamer, ruined the series, but I will attempt to be as fair as possible for the sake of this review. ARRRRighty?
Blue Ball Score: 17 out of 25 balls
For now, let’s completely disregard the piracy aspects. I will dedicate an entire paragraph just for that beauty. Besides that, the gameplay is just a typical Assassin’s Creed game. The open-style fighting (not fighting in the shadows) was improved and made a more viable option throughout the game. If you are good enough, you can stay in the pocket for quite a while before having to run to safety for health reasons (unlike Peyton Manning). But, besides that, the gameplay was pretty typical of any Assassin’s Creed.
Now, on to the important part – The Naval Warfare. You will run into two types of folks. Those who love it and those who hate it. There is not much in-between. Personally, I was not a fan of the naval warfare, but that is simply because it seemed to be a stretch to be an “Assassin Pirate.” Either way, the naval warfare wasn’t terrible. I eventually caught on and was able to roll with it. Battling other ships wasn’t hard, but challenging. You can plague the seas at your will and there were a ton of things to do (much like the mini-games and sub-missions throughout the entire game) so that was a plus. Something to always keep you busy whether you are pillaging the seas or scurrying across the land reaping havoc.
As with the second-gen (as I call them) games, we had the aspect of hunting and killing animals. Well, Ubisoft took that same concept to the sea. You were able now hunt and kill whales, various shark species, crocodiles, etc. And, they even added a few more land animals to hunt as well.
Overall, it wasn’t a terrible experience. Personally, this gamer believes the naval additions to the game were not good because it took away from the true Assassin’s Creed “roots and feel”. But, overall, the naval warfare itself was not bad. 3.5 / 5 balls.
Regarding the campaign and plot itself, it wasn’t as thick as what I usually prefer (how many girls have said that a time or two, eh?) But they did manage to tie it in with the previous games by the main character being the grandfather of Ratonhnhaketon (or however the hell you spell that crazy Indian’s name). But, back to the point of thickness, I felt like the campaign was lacking substance that the previous ones had. The general idea was too simple: A blundering pillaging pirate, turned assassin that is trying to find an all-mighty and powerful tool (the Observatory in this case). And, with any pirate, the motive is always the riches and treasure. There weren’t nearly as many twists and turns throughout the storyline as there were in previous games and it got really redundant after a while.
The biggest thing that kept the game exciting was, ironically enough, the naval warfare. Yes, I know I said I hated it. I do. But, it was really the only thing that kept the game exciting because the landscape of the sea (if that makes sense) was constantly changing. Bigger ships (we all remember the God ships in the corners of the map), more ships, sieging the naval posts, harder ships, and many more. And, I do want to specifically mention that it was very cool to meet some of the infamous pirates such as Blackbeard. Seeing and hearing Blackbeard “fear” you is one of those little parts of the game that really added a “badass” factor to your piratey self-esteem.
Lastly, we come to this gamer’s favorite part of the games – the Animus (secondary) storylines. As mentioned above, our beloved Desmond is no longer a part of our universe. So, we are replaced with another innocent feller (I can’t recall his name at this moment) that is reliving these memories. As always, we know that Abstergo is up to no good, but in this game, they mask their true motives by claiming they are making some sort of game where people can relive these memories themselves. We all remember creepy John – the guy who we thought was good that lead us to almost resurrect Juno and spazzed out at the end in an attempted love-murder (play the game and you will know what it means). I do want to mention that we get to meet Shaun and Rebecca again (when I saw them, let’s just say it was the first time “Richard” stood at attention in a few years).
Overall, the campaign was decent at best. It did present that new naval element, but the storylines were lacking substance to me. I wanted the twists and turns, back-stabbings, and constant “who should I trust” elements. There were a few of those, but not much in comparison to the previous games. Gotta give this a measly 2/5 balls.
Moving on, I really appreciated the updates to the multiplayer experience. I thought the multiplayer experience was good to begin with mainly because of its uniqueness (not the typical run-and-gun or full stealth mode). But they increased the difficulty (and interestingness if that is a word) of the game by making it slightly harder to detect and know when your target and chaser was close. You had to be keener and pay attention more closely. The maps were better I thought. Perhaps they were the same, but they had a different feel to them. In general, I think we can all agree that we had to change up our strategy just because the multiplayer wasn’t the same. It didn’t feel the same and it was a better feeling for me.
And, as to be expected, they added more perks and more customization aspects to the characters. More perks, more abilities, more maps, etc. Also, it seemed more balanced to me. There wasn’t a significant thing that everyone did (an overpowered COD 4 M16 for instance) and it seemed more balanced overall.
Conclusion? Moving in the right direction. The rowdy gamers wanted naval warfare and were highly disappointed when they did not get it, but I am thankful they did not do that. They kept to their roots with the multiplayer and kept making improvements and progress. With a combination of improvements, new features, maintaining the Assassin’s Creed feel, and a slight disappointment with the lack of naval warfare, I will have to give this a 3.5 / 5 balls.
Taking a quick look at the graphics alone, they weren’t bad. As I have mentioned in the above “Multiplayer” section, Ubisoft made improvements and progress in this game. The graphics aren’t going to WOW you out of the sea (get it?), but they were solid. I would have liked to see more fine details (just because I am picky, demanding, and expect a lot like a high-class broad), but the naval graphics were really good. The ships were detailed, the sea storms were really realistic (thunder, rain, whole screen flashing to simulate lightning, winds, water-nado’s, etc.), and it seemed really thought out. They didn’t just throw this new naval feature together and say “Let’s see what happens.” Obviously, there were things to improve and certain animations that never changed (such as hauling up a big ol’ momma whale that looked the exact same as hauling up a little tigah’ shahk!), but as I mentioned above this is just nit-picking. Regarding the “land” portion of the game, the islands were beautiful and the buildings were mildly disappointing. I was expecting the buildings to have a bit more details, but they were just the same ol’ Assassin’s Creed buildings.
Sound. Mechanics love hearing the thundering roar of a classic muscle car, but this butt pirate loves hearing the thunderous booms of cannon fire in the morning. Now, I must concede, I expected this game to down-play the importance of cannons and sound. But, I was wrong. Simply put – damn wrong. The naval sound effects were pure magic. Perhaps others will disagree, but for me, the combination of your sailors singing, the wind blowing, your ship sailing through a storm and surfing rogue waves, fighting and destroying two ships simultaneously, cannons firing off both sides of your ship, dear God I am fittin’ to blow a cannon myself.
In conclusion, the graphics and sound were good. Some parts of the game seem neglected, but the new aspects of Black Flag were done remarkably well. I give this a 4/5 balls.
Let’s briefly touch on the interest factor. As you can tell throughout this review, I have said (an obnoxious amount of times) that I was not a big fan of the naval addition to the game. So, what better way to vent than through the Hot Topic section? The naval warfare definitely was intriguing and enticing to say the least. It made current followers wonder what the hell was going to happen, and the sheer vastness and uniqueness of it was enough to draw in narbs (AKA n00bs). For some of us, we felt violated and it was a major turn off for us. On the other hand, some of us (meaning not me) loved it. Admittedly, Assassin’s Creed needed something new and fresh to spice up our gaming sex life so they took a big chance with naval warfare. So I will give credit where credit is due. It may have been a flop for this gamer, but in the grand scheme of things, it was arguably quite successful.
Replay factor? Hmm, that is quite the question indeed. For one, the sheer vastness of the game and amount of things to do: contracts, side missions, underwater missions which were enough to cause a nervous breakdown, and many more. So the amount of possible playing time is enough to draw someone back in. But, if we are looking at solely the want and desire to play again, I wouldn’t say it was as strong as the other games. But, that is due to my bias with the naval aspect. I would assume if one was to like the piratey missions, they would really want to play the game again. And, the multiplayer would be enough for me to want to play the game again I suppose.
In conclusion, both factors had pros and cons. But, the interest factor was solid. Something fresh that may have flopped in ways, but also greatly succeeded in others and wasn’t toooooo far out there. The replay factor is decent with the size of the game (speaking in regards to the amount of gameplay hours), naval warfare, new features and additions, and improvements to the multiplayer. Overall, I give it a 4/5 balls.
In conclusion, this game gets a grand total of 17 out of 25 balls. Now, before you all jump down my throat and say I am stupid and this review is wrong, keep in mind I was not a fan of the naval warfare. If I liked the naval warfare, then this review will be much higher. But, as you all will find out, there are two types of people: Those who love ships and those who hate ships. Personally, I was not a fan of being a seaman. I enjoy the classical feel of Assassin’s Creed with a focus on the Templar storyline. I did not enjoy the piratey side-stories and distractions. So, I am quite interested in hearing all your opinions on if you liked the game and if you liked the naval warfare.