To make a long story short, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is perhaps one of the most refreshingly fun and addictive story-driven open-world titles out there…period. Released as a multi-platform title, ACIV really shines on a next-gen console like the PS4 (with its luscious detail and added definition). It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a fun and highly entertaining multiplayer mode on board as well, which should delight any serious gamer. The point is – Black Flag is amazing, and you should definitely own it if you have a PS4.
The first thing to take note of however, where AC4 is concerned, is its incredible setting – which seems to breathe at times, somehow alive and aware. Anyone that’s at all familiar with video game history will also take note that this is perhaps the first true “pirate-themed” title to break ground and provide gamers with a large world to explore in older, historically-accurate ships. Yes, it’s been tried before, but nothing even comes close to delivering intensive, detail-oriented swashbuckling gameplay and swarthy visuals like Black Flag.
Truly, this game is one-of-a-kind; you can’t even really compare it to titles such as Grand Theft Auto either, because (in all honesty) it’s much more intricate (in more ways than one). For instance, in your more typical free-roaming, 3rd-person, open-world titles there isn’t really a lot of sophistication when it comes to character actions or movements – you pretty much shoot things and maybe push a button for actions while running over targets to trigger missions and so forth.
One of the hallmarks of the Assassin’s Creed series of course is that there are a variety of actions you can take outside of fighting or running across rooftops in a parkour-like fashion. You also have a highly-developed fighting system which features plenty of non-repetitive moves as well as a built-in set of stealth mechanics to keep everything interesting. To put it bluntly, all of the gameplay mechanics that have been built up and refined throughout the various installments have been integrated with ACIV: Black Flag’s amazing free-roaming mechanic, which largely takes place on your pirate ship, the Jackdaw. However, this isn’t a static mode that you enter where you can’t resume your normal viewpoint / control over your character. No. You can actually raid other ships or even jump into the water to swim around; at times, you really feel as though you’re sailing the high seas.
The point is, one of the things Ubisoft really nailed was the feeling of scale; meaning, the overall feeling of distance between points of interest and the relative sizes of each respective city / territory. Unlike previous entries for the franchise, there’s a wealth of activities to partake in on the side as well. For example, you can go whaling / shark hunting or even use your diving bell to explore sunken ships for treasure (once you acquire it, of course). The underwater segments were particularly fun as they essentially function as 3D minigames which are built off the “scrambling for air” mechanic that’s often used by some developers. Likewise, there’s no feeling quite like being several leagues under the ocean paddling amongst wrecked ships while being mercilessly pursued by man-eating sharks.
As for its story, Black Flag doesn’t disappoint; it’s chock-full of the sort of dramatic action and intrigue that we’ve come to expect from the Assassin’s Creed series. There’s still the feeling of augmented reality, where you’re taking on the role of a person that’s using the Animus (a machine that’s designed to explore memories using DNA) to inject yourself into historical settings, which can be a trip, sometimes. But instead of assuming the role of another character as with previous titles, you actually play yourself in Black Flag (when you’re not logged into the machine, that is) and in the present day, no less. No spoilers here, but let’s just say that the game reaches a dramatic conclusion that’s every bit as riveting as you might expect.
It’s also worth mentioning that the missions and NPC’s in AC IV are truly excellent. You actually become more interested in the characters as you progress through the game and even though many of the objectives in the various missions are similar, their unique settings and enemies tend to make for an interesting experience and challenge. Arguably, when it comes to combat in Black Flag, naval battles are truly “where it’s at”, so to speak. The thrill of spotting a large ship off in the distance with your spyglass and then sailing by and mercilessly attacking it with a bevy of upgraded cannons is extremely satisfying.
To get right to the point: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is one of the best games available on any console right now, and that definitely applies to the PS4. If you like open-world games and/or stealth-action gameplay, you’re going to love this game – it’s definitely a must-buy.
Rating – 9.5
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