ASSASSINS. BETTER WITH PIRATES (AC4: BLACK FLAG REVIEW)

January 9, 2014

Not without my cutlass, baybeh.

Death and booty in the Caribbean with ‘Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag’

By KARL R. DE MESA, GMA NewsJanuary 7, 2014 8:33pm

I don’t know when exactly it happened.

Maybe it was the first time I saw a whale leap out of the waves and make a belly-up dive back? Maybe it was the first time my crew sang one of the shanties—“LEAVE HER, JOHNNY”—I chased down for them, as dusk settled over the waters and the sun became half of a yellow coin over the shimmer?

In this, the fourth installment of the acclaimed Assassin’s Creed franchise, Black Flag drops you into the salty boots of Welsh pirate Edward Kenway.

No doubt the game is beautiful, but it the journey itself became worth it when it became an immersive pirate game, when the romance and adventure became interlaced with the Templars vs Assassins plot. If you’ve imagined how it might be to play inside a “Pirates of the Carrbbean” movie set brought to virtual life, then this is the game for you.

Verily, I tell you: this is what you went to sea for, matey.

Savvy all the way

It is 1715 and pirates rule the Caribbean just as surely as the Pope and his priests controlled Medieval Italy (hello, Ezio Trilogy). As you play Kenway, his adventures eventually earn him the respect of pirate legends like Edward Teach aka Blackbeard. Thing is, the war between Assassins and Templars also threatens to destroy the everything the rogues have built, fondly known as their own pirate republic.

The Caribbean cities (and there are a lot of them) from Havana to Kingston, Nassau to Tortuga, are a great way to explore the milieu. The British, Spanish, and Portuguese are masters of the seas with their powerful battle ships, often bristling with cannons. Set against them are the privateers, ostensibly men of fortune but criminals who prey on merhcant and passenger ships carrying rum and sugar and gold.

First off, Ubisoft Montreal sure learned their lesson from the failures of AC3. There’s excellent, streamlined platforming where the controls are almost intuitive and a running assassination via your parkour, whether through the trees of a remote jungle island or from the rooftop of a creole mansion, is as easy as slicing a melon with a scimitar (oh, you’ll need one of those).

Sure, there’s a few bugs and a few times Kenway would jump suddenly to a wrong ledge, but that’s a nitpick. Combat is likewise familiar for anybody who’s played the previous AC games, only easier to understand and execute so that chaining six kills while surrounded by a dozen Havana policemen is challenging, but never impossible.

CONTINUE READING.

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