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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Review

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Review

While other new franchises from this generation may be able to compete in the critical stakes, when it comes to sheer volume the Assassin’s Creed franchise is in a league of its own. With Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag we’re at the point where the franchise has seen six main-series entries and five spin-off titles on various other platforms since the original Assassin’s Creed appeared in 2007. Some might see this as a concerning statistic, but with this latest instalment Ubisoft has yet again set down a marker in terms of quality.

Assassin’s Creed III saw the end of the Desmond Saga, but with Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, which released on the PlayStation Vita at the same time, Ubisoft were already sowing the seeds of the continuing over-arching story.

In Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, you take up the role of an unnamed individual who has just started working for Abstergo Entertainment, a legitimate arm of Abstergo that looks to glean interesting stories for films by utilising the Animus. After being assigned to the Subject 17 (aka Desmond Miles) team, your job is to look deeper into the life of Edward Kenway, the father of Haytham Kenway and grandfather of Ratonhnhake:ton (aka Connor).

Before getting onto the story of Kenway, it’s worth noting that the current day story has a very different vibe without Desmond. First off, it all takes place from a first-person perspective, but there’s also a much bigger focus on filling out the back story. While you do work for Abstergo, the majority of this information will be acquired by hacking computer terminals and it’s extensive to say the least. Not only will you find out the inner workings of Abstergo Entertainment, which seems to have strange parallels to what you’d imagine Ubisoft Montreal is like, but there is also a plethora of information relating to Desmond and the Animus project in general.

It’s safe to say that if you’re a fan of the current day story-arch, this is the kind of information that you will lap up and it makes the whole hacking mini-game very worthwhile, as you never know what nugget of information you’re going to stumble upon next. It could be a trailer for Abstergo Entertainment’s next move, an audio log from Warren Vidic talking to Subject 1, or even an internal video talking about Altair’s merits as a movie star.

Anyway, onto Edward Kenway – the scourge of the seven seas. Like many men of this era, Kenway ends up leaving a nice life in Wales after being lured away by the promise of wealth and prosperity. However, when his pirate ship unwittingly attacks the vessel of one Duncan Walpole, his life takes a very different turn. You see, Duncan Walpole was an Assassin who was looking to defect to the Templar order, and after the two get stranded on an island together, Kenway takes Walpole’s life and decides to assume his position.

Upon doing so, Kenway attends a meeting with the Templar order and learns of something called The Observatory, an ancient device that can be used to spy on people, assuming you have a sample of their blood. Being the scallywag he is, Kenway then decides that he wants to find The Observatory on his own and sell its location to the highest bidder, be that the Assassins or the Templars.

Due to his lack of interest in anything but himself, the story of Black Flag is quite different from anything that’s come before. There are some continuity issues at the start relating to Kenway’s impersonation of an Assassin, despite not even knowing they exist and never having used a hidden blade before, but after that, it’s plain sailing until the end.

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