GAME NAME: Assassin’s Creed IV: Blag Flag
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, PS3, PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U
GENRE(S): Action, Adventure, Stealth, Open World
RELEASE DATE(S): October 29th, 2013
This is not G3AR’s first visit to the Caribbean. A few months ago, we ventured the seas, jungles and cities of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (AC IV: BF) on the Xbox 360. If you read that review, you’d know that we were impressed with what the team at Ubisoft managed to squeeze into 12 months of development time. Especially if you consider that Assassin’s Creed 3 fell short of the mark for various reasons. The one thing that did work was the battles at sea, and that opened the door for what we have here.
Let’s recap for those who missed out last time. Edward Kenway is the new hero of this adventure and early on finds himself in the thick of things. After unceremoniously stealing the clothes off of a dead Assassin, he killed no less, he gets mixed up with the Templars. Not long after, they discover the truth and he flees all the while stealing a ship called the Jack Daw. It’s here where players will get to experience the Golden Age of piracy as you fight off other pirates and foes with your crew and Blackbeard by your side. Lets not forget that this is in actual fact just a memory being replayed, but Desmond is nowhere to be found. This time YOU are that person.
In trying to tell this tale without Desmond, Ubisoft has implemented a first-person camera to pull this narrative trickery off. The developers at Ubisoft must’ve had a ball taking shots at their own work as the characters you interact with at the firm, Abstergo, and generally take pot shots at all of their projects. This includes the memories of Assassin’s Creed (Altair), Assassin’s Creed 2 (Ezio) and Assassin’s Creed 3 (Connor). If you’re looking for an historic adventure with some tongue and cheek writing for good measure, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better on the market. As always, there’s something sinister in the making and you’re tasked to hack their network to find out what’s going on. Overall, it’s a satisfying experience and never feels like it’s interupting Edward’s adventure.
Assassin’s Creed IV has then redeemed their protagonist as well as the narrative. In terms of gamplay, you are in for something special. The map in AC IV: BF is roughly ten times the size of what you may have experienced in Grand Theft Auto V and that excludes the massive unexplored ocean. You have three cities to explore (each completely unique from the other and with their own secrets and side quests), several jungles to get lost in, treasure maps with which to discover hidden buried chests, forts to demolish with your ship’s cannons and mortars, ocean and land animals to skin and craft, underwater sections that involve sneaking past sharks and exploring sunken shipwrecks, lots of sneaking missions and so much more. It’s a living breathing world of the 1700’s as you would have experienced it as a pirate. So what has the PS4 brought to the table?
The biggest drawback on the Xbox 360 was the graphics. It looked exceptionally dated, even worse than Assassin’s Creed 3. The developers were obviously more focussed on the next generation consoles, hence the Xbox 360 version suffered with quite a few graphical glitches. Move to the PS4 and these issues have all but disappeared.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the textures are crisp and not a blurred mess. Out on the ocean, your ship will be drenched with water washing up and down the deck as you tackle incoming waves. Moreover, you can barely see through the rain when facing a storm with the extra power of the new console. On land, the jungles are dense with fauna and flora. You’ll often find yourself switching to Eagle Eye view mode to spot any nearby danger such as jaguars as it’s just too dense to see incoming trouble. Should a storm hit a town or island, you’ll witness trees and bushes blowing viciously in the wind. The elements come alive on the PS4. Saying that, it’s obvious that this game was developed with both the current and last generation in mind. After playing something like Killzone: Shadow Fall or Need for Speed: Rivals, it’s obvious there is space for much improvement.
Vita owners can take their game on the go, if you’re within Wifi signal via remote play. Missing from the Vita is the L3 and R3 buttons on the analogue sticks as well as the L2 and R2 triggers. The bottom left and right corners of the touch screen acts as the L3 and R3 buttons, whereby the rear touch pad handles L2 and R2. It’s a good attempt, but sadly the rear touch pad is simply not accurate enough to act as an alternative means of playing. It’s a shame as AC IV: BF looks gorgeous on the OLED display of the Vita. Outside of the graphical polish and remote play, it’s an exact duplicate of what you have on the Xbox 360.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was impressive on the Xbox 360, but on PS4 it shines brighter than any hidden treasure. If the 30 plus hours of campaign is not enough for you then you’re welcome to jump into the multiplayer lobbies. There’s something here for anyone. If you were patient enough to hold out for the next generation version, you’ll be glad to know that you’ve hit gold.