Black Flag – First Impressions

If it’s adventure ye seek, and wealth ye lust after, there’s a game tha’ll surely suit your needs. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag is the biggest and most adventurous Creed game yet.

Black Flag throws you right into the action from the very start. Ubisoft took a lesson from all the grouching over the hand-holding, 10-hour-long “tutorial” in Assassin’s Creed 3, and decided to cut right to the chase. Edward Kenway, a greedy and charming pirate, is one of my favorite Assassins. I think he’s much more interesting than Connor, and has a charm about him that is clearly inspired by Ezio.assassin-s-creed-4-iconicpose

The running, especially tree running, feels much smoother and is a lot more fun now that boat-to-boat parkour has been added. Lifts, an iconic device that pirates have been known to use in movies, add to the feeling of being a pirate. It’s very fun to cut a rope whose counterweight pulls you way up to the mast of a ship. There are also lift-like devices in the cities, which are a great deal of help when you need a quick escape to the rooftops and away from pursuing guards.

Black Flag’s overall tone is fantastic. There’s plenty of humor so far, and seeing everything from the greedy, free-living, anarchist-like perspective of these pirates makes the game that much more fun to play. I often find myself straying from my current mission every time I spot a ship carrying plenty of gold and goods. That’s what this game does best, though: Gives you plenty to do and plenty reason to do it. For once, collecting items and doing side quests is very fun and provides meaningful rewards. This is definitely the biggest Assassin’s Creed so far, and there is always plenty to do.

The life of a pirate is absolutely amazing. I’m very happy about the naval elements in this game. I’ve spent the majority of my time sailing the Caribbean and plundering and discovering new islands. No matter how many times I do it, Assassins-creed-4-thumbincapacitating a Man ‘O War and boarding it – with all of the shouts of battle and triumph from both crews and sounds of gunfire and metal against metal – is epic and rewarding every single time.

The story in Black Flag is very flexible – more so than previous installments, however. It’s not as flexible as an RPG, but the game holds you for about an hour or so in a story mission, releases you soon after, and you’re on you way battling ships and discovering islands as you please. The cool thing is that once you decide to move onto the next story mission, it feels natural even if the last five hours of gameplay have been dedicated to side missions. It allows you to do whatever you want for as long as you want, and it does a really good job of keeping you busy and entertained. The way this new story ties into the previous games may seem like cheap writing to some at first, but very interesting things come to light the deeper you go.

Combat, running, and stealth have all been refined. Stealth missions in AC3 were a little too hard, in my opinion, because once you were caught, you were screwed. In Black Flag, you can enter open combat with a guard, and as long as nothing attracts the other guards in the area, you can finish him off and return to the shadows and foliage. This may make the guards seem a little dumb, but let’s face it, the Assassin’s Creed gamesAssassins-Creed-4 are meant to make the players feel like a badass. The guns are a nice addition to the combat system, and are very welcome in the Golden Age of Piracy. Taking down four enemies at once with one shot right after another feels amazing and gives the player another idea of how well-trained and deadly Assassins are. When running, I seldom find myself running up random walls that I didn’t mean to, as opposed to the previous games. It happens – and it’s quite frustrating when it does – but it happens less, and that’s what matters.

So far, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag is the most fun AC game I’ve played, and by far the most exciting. I love being thrown into this real, living and breathing world that’s full of activity and surprises. I can’t wait to find all the collectibles and islands and get 100% completion, as well as finish the story and see where Ubisoft is taking the Assassin’s Creed series. If there’s anything I have to say about this game that’s negative – besides typical and expected annoyances that come with these massive-world games – it’s that Ubisoft has set the bar extremely high for their next Assassin’s Creed game. Black Flag is going to be very hard to beat.

Ghosts is coming out tonight, so I’m not sure how soon I’ll have my “Final Thoughts” up for you guys. I’ll surely be playing the living life out of CoD this week. For now, thanks for reading. Play hard.

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