[Playstation 4] Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag


PSU Live Streamer
Dec 21, 2006
Assassin's Creed is back and its better than ever! Yar!

AC is a game series that jumps between historic periods to give you a taste of what it might have been like to have lived through that era (albeit not 100% historically accurate). Not every period is necessarily appealing to everyone however, and for different reasons. You may not be a fan of AC3 because the American Revolution wasn't your cup of tea. Or perhaps it wasn't for you because you happen to be a huge fan of the American Revolution, yet don't feel AC3 did it justice. Likewise for the games that came before it, if you didn't like that time period piece then there was a chance you would not really get hooked on the game.

This series has truly had a rollercoaster ride amongst the gaming community. But like any good rollercoaster, with every low point comes a high point to get you excited for the thrill ride ahead and this year's thrill ride takes place on the high seas in the age of pirates. If you are anything like me, not only would you be ruggedly handsome but you would also thoroughly enjoy pirate themed anything. And I'm not just talking about the Hollywood pirate franchises, but actual pirate lore and history itself. I've spent many an hour watching documentaries about Blackbeard, Port Royal Jamaica, pirate ships, pirate weapons, pirate lore, etc. But I too was one of the people that took little interest in the series up until this point because I had little to no interest in the time periods they were covering. However after seeing the first trailer for AC4, I knew I had to satisfy my excitement by preparing for launch. And the only way I could do that was to go back and play the previous titles as I waited, which I haven't regretted.

I'm sure anyone on this forum that knows me, knows my level of hype for this game was off the charts in the months leading up to release. The vast majority of threads regarding this game were started by yours truly. But with such a high anticipation, did this game really live up to my wildest dreams?

AC games are based around tying in the events of modern day with events of the past by use of the advancements in modern day technology. Using tech referred to as the 'Animus', the user is able to relive the events of the past as he/she attempts to determine the locations of alien technology left on the planet years ago. This becomes a struggle as it's revealed that 2 age old feuding factions are competing to acquire this alien tech, the Assassins and the Templars.

Story is a difficult beast to evaluate in the AC series as there are two parts to every AC game...what happens within the Animus, and what happens out of the Animus. Inside the Animus you are playing a character and reliving the events of his life. These events are very much self contained to that game and that game alone, for the most part (AC2 being the exception when it branched off into brotherhood and revelations). But it's the events that take place outside the Animus that contain the real over-arcing story shared across all games in the series. The unfortunate thing is that many of the fanbase have ridiculed Ubisoft over the fact the game pulls you from the Animus when all you want to do is be inside the Animus having fun. As a result the time spent out of the Animus has been getting shorter and shorter as the series progresses, which is diminishing the story-telling that is required in order to continue to bridge the gaps between these time period jumps happening from game to game. Unfortunately in AC4 there is not enough time spent outside the Animus to really say much up until the very end of the game. It left me wondering if they are perhaps going in a different direction from the rest of the series entirely now. Hopefully they find a way to mold it altogether in a meaningful way.


Not a whole lot has really changed with regards to the combat in this title. The mechanics still all feel the same as past titles for the exception of chaining multiple kills. In AC3 countering multiple people at once led to a wild display of finesse as Connor would suddenly kill 2 or 3 enemies in a short scene of brutal combat. This doesn't really happen all that much in AC4. I've put MANY hours into this game and I've rarely seen that sort of combat unfold, kind of a let down in my opinion. Especially since you can find yourself aboard a ship surrounded a lot of enemies....just seemed like something they could have made good use of, especially when you are holding 2 cutlasses and 4 pistols.

The parkour elements are very much unchanged as well. You still run, jump and climb like the previous titles. Which as far as I'm concerned works relatively well. I say 'relatively' because there are still those frustrating moments of being stuck on a building ledge when trying to chase someone or taking a sharp turn at a corner while running from guards only to latch onto a wall and lose all the distance you had put between yourself and your opponent.

Tailing and eavesdropping are also still apart of this game. I have a severe love/hate relationship with these mechanics to be honest. Playing as an assassin, it makes perfect sense to me that these elements are present...and I don't mind doing them. In some cases I actually enjoy doing them. But one of the major things AC4 does wrong in my opinion is just a little bit over half way through the game you start doing 4 or 5 missions back to back of just tailing and eavesdropping. It slows the pace of the game down to a grinding halt. I feel they could have done better either spreading them out a bit more or taking a few of those missions out entirely.

Whilst I could have added this to the gameplay/combat section, it is such a large and important part of the game that it deserved it's own section. This will probably be the make/break point of the game for people coming into this title looking for a good time. The fact remains, just like I mentioned further above if you don't enjoy the setting in the AC game you are playing, then you won't enjoy the AC game. So if you have no love for ships and pirates, this might not be the game for you. For me however, it's made this the best open world sandbox experience in my gaming history!

Ubisoft has gone great distances to really bring this part of the game to life. Everything from upgrading your ship to ship vs. ship combat to boarding your opponents ship, taking it over and deciding its fate. If you ever were looking for that perfect navel experience, AC4 does a damn good job. Ship combat feels intense and visceral, made all the more exciting when random events happen such as a storm or when pirate hunters join the fray. Suddenly you not only have to deal with the ship you started combat with but you may have to deal with rough waters, water spouts or multiple ships at once. I think the weather effects and storms are probably the coolest factor that can occur at random during ship combat. While storms are happening the level of difficulty to control your ship increases exponentially, now you've got rogue waves that can wreck havoc on your ship. The 'terrain' also changes at random. As the ocean waves change with the severity of the storm strategies change on the fly. Suddenly you are left with a massive wave dividing you from your enemy. This serves as both shelter from enemy fire for you, but for them as well. Now you have to arc your shot over the wave in effort to strike your target. Very fun.

Once you've defeated your opponent and his ship is left burning and dead on the water you are presented with a choice, destroy it or board it. Destroying it yields 50% of the loot from the vessel, but boarding it and winning yields full reward. Boarding is highly entertaining, fun and loaded with choices. How you board is completely in your hands. Do you want to dive off your ship, swim over and start the fight alone? Do you want to man a swivel gun and take out some of the enemy crew before getting your swords bloody? Do you want to swing over in fine pirate style? Do you want to climb up the mast of your ship and jump from your rigging to theirs? Those are the choices you get to make before really getting started. Beyond that you are given challenges to complete. Finishing this checklist results in winning the day and taking over the ship and its crew. These challenges range from killing X number of crew, removing the ship's flag, killing persons of interest or destroying kegs of powder.

Now that you've completed your boarding objectives you have more choices to make. Do you want to scrap newly acquired ship and use its parts to repair your own? Do you want to use your influence to lower your wanted rating to shake those pesky pirate hunters? Or would you like to send the ship to your fleet? On top of these choices you also acquire resources, money and crew. The entire system is fun and rewarding all around and your choices made here will vary based on your current situation.

This game is jam packed with things to do as long as you want to do them. The number of collectables in this game is staggering. Ranging from ship songs to treasure maps, chests to fragments and even old mayan relics. There are hunting mechanics, harpooning mechanics and diving mechanics. You can take out heavily guarded forts and make them your own. You can run assassination missions and navel missions. I even found myself having fun with the computer hacking that you can do outside the animus in modern day, allowing you to unlock the secrets other Abstergo employees have locked away on their PCs. These hacks are minigames themselves.

Want to sail around and cause havok? Sure. Want to raise your wanted level to the max and see how many ships you can fight at onces? You can. Want to collect the most powerful ships and build a fleet to be feared? Have fun. Want to upgrade your own ship? Go nuts. How about explore a ship wreck and gather treasure while trying to avoid sharks? Scary, but sure.

The options given to the player are seemingly endless and work well in keeping you interested while ensuring you don't feel like you are doing too much of the samething all the time.

I felt like this needed to be included in this write up as it's pretty freakin' awesome. This app servers a couple purposes. It's has an in game map which if sync'd with your game will serve you in real time. Plot your waypoint on the app and it shows up in game. The app also keeps track of your progress and and catalogs all the items you've collected. But perhaps the coolest part of the app is the fleet management system. So no matter where I am, I can manage my fleet. Using them to open new trade routes by defeating other ships in a combat minigame. Sending them off on trade missions to collect money and items that show up in game like new sails or artifacts...even treasure maps! It's a very cool little addition that they didn't need to do, but it has added so much more to the game for me and my friends. You can even help out ships in your friends fleets, but unfortunately this is the one thing you can't do from the app...you need to do it from the in game fleet management.

The game is absolutely gorgeous. The ocean, weather and plantlife all look stunning. Mix weather and ocean together, or weather and plantlife...your jaw should drop. Sailing during a sunrise in calm waters is also breathtaking. Ubisoft did an amazing job recreating the Caribbean. From the sunlight shining through the leaves in the jungles, to the fog rolling in making your vision terrible. And for as many point of interest locations they've created, each feels very unique.

As for the sound, they spared no expense here either. They even sent out a team to record real sounds from the Caribbean from water to animal. I absolutely love the combat music, and my friends at work can't stop talking about the shanties (songs your crew will sing on your ship). Both sound and graphics work so well together to bring you that immersion pirate lovers have been longing for.

I've not had much time in this mode yet. Having only played it for a couple hours I'd hate to give impressions for the masses on something I've not fully explored. But I can tell you I enjoyed it. And my buddies at work already want to see if it's possible to make a team and go online together when everyone is finished the story.

As far as I'm concerned Ubisoft took the best of Assassin's Creed 2 with the best of Farcry 3 and put them together in a pirate campaign. This is a match made in heaven for myself and the 5 people I work with that I've now got addicted to this. Most of which only bought COD for their PS4, now COD is collecting dust as their pilfer and plunder on the high seas of adventure.

I implore anyone out there to try this game. I realize some people are bored of the series, or upset that Ubisoft has turned the franchise into a yearly one. Some people hated AC3 to the point they said they would never play AC again. But please give this game a shot. You are doing a great injustice to yourself by passing this game up.

I personally have spent 60hrs in this game and I still find myself going back to it even after finishing the story. I hope everyone has the chance to give this game a shot and I hope those that do find similar enjoyment as myself.

Removing my score for the game. I think it's more important to read my perception of the game than it is to jump to a score which is subjective.
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Super Elite
Dec 30, 2007
I haven't done a new review myself, but I will not have a future score for my reviews from now on. Totally pointless when the review is about the game, not some subjective, arbitrary score. The navel combat sounds really cool, I just can't get into the AC series. Thanks shep for the review, glad to see you continue to write more work. This is right up there with your other quality pieces.