ASSASSIN’S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG
RRP: $ 89 ( reviewed on PS3)
WITH the traditional sparse release schedule that follows the fl ood of new video games and consoles at the end of each year, I’ve fi nally had time to conquer my dwindling pile of unfi nished games.
This is one I was determined to fi nish because it’s so different from the rest of series – and in ways I wasn’t expecting.
At fi rst glance it feels all too familiar – the mechanics, combat and even some of the weapons are the same as past games. What has changed, though, is the style, tone, pacing and most notably the game’s centrepiece: your pirate ship.
Spending much of your time aboard, expect to pour most of your hardearned cash from discovering treasure and winning battles into improving the performance, defence, weaponry and appearance of your ship. Another way to make money is converting captured ships into pirate vessels which you send on side missions.
While the main storyline still has the underlying assassins- versus- Templar confl ict, featuring Greek gods as superhumans, Black Flag’s plot is less about playing the role of an assassin, and more about ruling the high seas, while meeting famous pirates such as Blackbeard along the way.
Black Flag is not without its faults and shares familiar issues with past games in the series. Running around environments is sometimes still clumsy to control. Enemies also seem less inclined to attack you one at a time and combat is notably less fl uid than I’ve experienced in other games.
The online multiplayer mode from past games returns and, besides some minor balancing tweaks and new perks, the main addition is the Game Lab, where you can create and customise online matches by choosing the rules, weapons, time limits and more. It was a blast throwing together some quirky combinations of rules and weapons and playing against friends.
Black Flag’s new setting of sailing the high seas is refreshing. While most of the missions tread familiar ground rather than revolutionising the game’s trusted formula, the overall pirate theme is a welcome new chapter.