About a year ago we were ready to relive the American War of Independence, as Connor Kenway, one of the many ancestors of Desmond Miles, the protagonist of the most profitable Ubisoft series of the generation; Assassin's Creed III, however, turned out to be a disappointment for many of the historical fans, either for a not very charismatic protagonist, or for a series of disturbing and nefarious bugs that undermined the entire gaming experience.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (hereinafter simply referred to as ACIV) is the objective the regaining of lost fans, as well as the arduous task of carrying on the history of the series after the cryptic finale of the third (or fifth nd Guido) chapter.
Tested Version: PS3
Do What You Want Cause a Pirate is free ...
ACIV is the first title in the series to go back in time, at least in the animus, putting us in the shoes of Connor's grandfather: Edward Kenway, transporting us to the age of pirates, to discover his deeds as a buccaneer, and how he became part of the order of assassins.
Sailing the Caribbean seas of the 1700s, as usual we will meet real characters like Blackbeard, Woodes Rogers and a whole series of other pirates who will have more or less fundamental roles in the adventure of Desmond's ancestor.
Between intrigues, betrayals, more or less obvious twists, the main story in the animus will cover about twenty-five hours, which will increase exponentially if we want to visit the entire map (the largest of the series) and collect up to the last buried doubloon.
In fact, in addition to the classic events that will carry on Edward's life, we will be able to dedicate ourselves to a vast series of submissions and subplots, to reveal all the secrets of the Caribbean; from the conquest of armored forts with cannon shots, to the boarding and looting of enemy ships, to the hunting already seen in ACIII, this time also extended to sea creatures, and to the now usual assassination contracts, divided between naval missions and murders on the mainland.
In the present, however, we get to know Abstergo Entertainment, the entertainment branch of Abstergo Industries, which apparently wants to give players new playful experiences by reconstructing certain historical periods just for the fun of it, it's up to you players to find out what hides behind this new reality in which Ubisoft Montreal has decided to catapult us.
As usual also with ACIV the plot remains one of the strong points of the title: the desire to discover what lies behind Abstergo Entertainment, how Haytham did to part with his father Edward's road and the latter's adventures at sea will keep fans of the series and even those who have decided to give glued to the pad. one last chance for the brand after the latest disappointments.
Edward is more charismatic than his nephew (Not that it took much nd Guido) and is willing to do anything to make his dream come true; although it still does not reach the glories of Altair and Ezio, with Edward, Ubisoft has managed to create a character that is at least bearable and who is appreciated for his deeds.
… You Are a Pirate!
The gameplay of ACIV remains unchanged compared to the previous chapters, at least as regards the parkour and the battles with enemy soldiers; in fact we will find ourselves for the umpteenth time in front of theUnderdeveloped AI opponents who, as has become tradition, will delight us by attacking us one at a time, in strict order, ready to be quartered by our corsair. The only cases of defeat during the battles will be due to careless errors, or to the parry made late, all by the player himself, and not due to a real difficulty.
The parkour system hasn't changed either, and it also allows Edward, like his predecessors and successors, to climb almost anywhere, to run on tight ropes like a circus tightrope walker and then crashing down on unsuspecting guards whose only fault is to go through that. away at the wrong time; unfortunately, during the chases, it happens to get stuck against different objects, while the character remains undecided between climbing over the obstacle and going around it, losing precious moments in the race against the victims. A calibration error that has been repeated for five chapters now and that it would be time to review.
If the battles against enemies and the mechanics of climbing have not undergone any changes in ACIV, the same cannot be said for the gameplay of the ship: improving all the good qualities of one of the few strong points of the third chapter, commanding Edward's ship will be comfortable and immersive, even for all the small businesses added by the Montreal team.
Dynamic events, from climate change to harpoon sea beasts, happen randomly as we move from island to island, making each trip a different experience, at least for most hours of play. In fact, once we have visited all the places in the game, we will be able to move from one end of the map to the other thanks to fast travel.
The naval battles have also undergone a couple of improvements, such as a diversification of ammunition due to the camera framing: for example if we aim it at the sides of the ship we will be able to fire a barrage of broadside, or looking straight ahead of us (at the bow) we will use the chained balls; these and other purchasable weapons make battles with other sailing ships much more strategic and unpredictable, turning them into the real hardest part of the whole game.
Not only have the phases on board the ships been improved, the now historic Eagle Eye, the sixth sense of the assassins that allows you to identify enemies, targets and hiding places, has also undergone a restyle. In ACIV, by highlighting an opponent, or an objective, this will remain visible even through walls, or any obstacle will stand in the way during our pursuits; Unfortunately, even by deactivating the eye, the highlighted enemy cannot be deselected, resulting confusing and aesthetically horrid, and superimposing it on the various environmental textures, an avoidable and questionable stylistic choice.
Eight men on the dead man's chest
With ACIV Ubisoft Montreal has also tried to improve connectivity between players, even in the single player, we see the evolution of ACIII cloud accesses, transformed into community objectives such as huge manatees to hunt in the sea, or chests full of doubloons in certain places . To access these events, you just need to have at least one other friend who is playing ACIV, the more they have, the more special events will happen on our map.
In addition, at the end of each Edward memory, we will be able to send an evaluation to Ubisoft Montreal on a five-star basis, to let them know whether or not we liked the level just ended.
Our assassin adepts, on the other hand, are replaced by a naval fleet, which we can form by boarding enemy ships, and which, just like the allies in the previous chapters, will allow us to obtain extra income with timed missions from management mechanics.
News also in the real multiplayer sector, with a renewed Branco mode, introduced in ACIII, which this time allows us to follow a real story and not just to chase the targets of the CPU.
Finally, the classic modes introduced by Brotherhood are added Laboratory mode, which allows us to create our own game rules and make them public to other players: this allows us to modify an existing mode, according to our tastes, and then play it with friends or with the rest of the community; a form of freedom that had never been seen in the now repetitive multiplayer of the series and that finally manages to rejuvenate it.
Finally, we must mention the hated microtransactions, which also return in this sixth chapter (they debuted in ACIII) and which expand to extra characters for multiplayer as well as the purchase of skills for your avatar; It should be noted, however, that all these extras can also be purchased with game coins, but logically it will take much longer to accumulate the amount of Abstergo points needed.
I hear you but I don't see you
What last year turned out to be the biggest flaw of ACIII, is certainly the technical side, as summarized at the beginning of this review in fact, the game had countless bugs, graphic and otherwise, ready to attack the player around every corner. of the map.
Fortunately, ACIV does not suffer from the same problem, or at least, we have not encountered any during the thirty hours of gameplay spent browsing and looking for treasures in the company of Edward Kenway.
Unfortunately, if on the one hand the annoying defects are missing, on the other hand the graphic sector is now dated and poorly defined, especially in the polygonal models of the characters.
The environments are instead pleasant and the warm color palettes fully convey the Caribbean and pirate atmosphere that the game wants to propose: in particular the islands are suggestive both seen on board the ship and from the ground, making everything much more exciting than the expanses of snow of ACIII.
If there is a part of the technical side of the series, which Ubisoft Montreal never misses, it is certainly the musical one: even in ACIV the soundtrack fits perfectly with the situation, passing from calm songs for moments of relaxation, to excited songs. for pursuits and fights; There are also many pirate songs scattered around the game map, which will be sung by Edward's crew during the ship crossings. A further detail that is added to all the manuscripts and documents perfectly curated by the Montreal team so as not to make the Assassin's Creed universe collapse on itself.
Finally, it is pleasant to note how the dubbing of ACIV is well synchronized (remember the excellent but out of sync one of ACIII) and the character of Blackbeard has been entrusted to Francesco Pannofino, one of the best Spanish voices of the last twenty years, while Edward has the voice of Alessandro Capra, a young voice actor who manages to perfectly characterize Connor's grandfather.
All the aforementioned technical defects could be easily avoided if the title was released in a few months, instead of respecting the now classic annual frequency.
Fortunately, this time the errors are less than usual, making Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag a return to the origins of the series, without yet reaching the glories of the best chapters of the brand.
✓ The largest map in the series
✓ Pleasant and engaging music x AI worse than usual
x Polygonal models dated
x It undergoes frame drops and slowdowns