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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag review

Ubisoft serves up a winning slice of original pirate material

It's barely worth saying, but the star of your videogame is really important. Even silent blank slates like Gordon Freeman can become loved, as we imagine how cool it would be to be revered, feared, and have simmering sexless love affairs without even having to open our mouths.

This is probably where Assassin's Creed III went wrong. Connor was a good-hearted lad, and fair play to him. But ye gods, he was earnest. And naive! The Assassins couldn't have had a less effective ambassador. The Templars would patiently explain the case for authoritarian control, and Connor would scream, "But my mum..." and run off up a tree. Well, that's how we remember it, anyway.

It's also where Black Flag pulls an absolute blinder. Edward Kenway is a fine rogue. He makes a great job of externalising whatever internal tortures he suffers, running through his foes, keeping treacherous company, mixing with scurvy swabs and all those other phrases that are too salty to appear in Black Flag's excellent script.

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The action kicks off straight away, thereby fixing another problem. We enjoyed Assassin's Creed III, but you'd have to be a ballsy kind of liar to argue that it didn't test the player's patience. A third of the game was a prelude and Haytham's painfully long boat journey to America was a clue that Ubisoft was building a library of art assets it could use in its next, better game.

Black Flag is that better game. Reach the third chapter and the open seas are yours to sail at will, dropping off as you see fit at tiny islands, large cities and distractions of every size in between. The mini-map is full of alluring icons, too: even during your first chase you'll be stopping off to check the chests and treasure maps and climbing up the synchronisation points to light up yet more compelling distractions.

The world map is a little deceptive. When you first zoom all the way out you'll be slightly overwhelmed by the size, but it's not as daunting as it looks. Only the sea links the locations on the map: you can't run from one end of the largest island to the other. That doesn't make it an empty world, just a more manageable one. Side-missions include robbable plantations, claimable Templar forts, upgrading your ship and home, skinning animals, exploring wrecks, sea battles and treasure hunting.

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Comments

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  1. Skywardwolf23 Saturday 14th Dec 2013 at 12:42

    This is a definite must have for me :mrgreen: thx for the review :D

  2. robbiebob2 Saturday 14th Dec 2013 at 13:05

    Sounds good I might pick it up if I have enough time for this game

  3. lrwr14 Saturday 14th Dec 2013 at 22:04

    I was originally going to get it for the Wii U, but I later found out Ubisoft have no plans to release the DLC. Which was a bit disappointing considering I wanted to play the freedom cry DLC.

  4. cag1980 Sunday 15th Dec 2013 at 12:38

    @Irwr14:

    The dev argument of not selling enough on the WiiU is not helped by things like this at all, why buy a game where your wont get DLC when you can buy it for another console and get everything.

    ***off-topic - I just wish Nintendo would strike a deal with Arkane studios and bring Arx Fatalis to the WiiU as the magic gesture system would be great on the gamepad. :D

  5. fulhamben Sunday 15th Dec 2013 at 14:33

    @Irwr14:

    The dev argument of not selling enough on the WiiU is not helped by things like this at all, why buy a game where your wont get DLC when you can buy it for another console and get everything.

    ***off-topic - I just wish Nintendo would strike a deal with Arkane studios and bring Arx Fatalis to the WiiU as the magic gesture system would be great on the gamepad. :D

    not everyone cares about over priced dlc though. other than a few cod and battlefield maps, id never pay for dlc.

  6. cag1980 Sunday 15th Dec 2013 at 17:17

    not everyone cares about over priced dlc though. other than a few cod and battlefield maps, id never pay for dlc.

    While i do agree with this, it is nice to have the option to expand your game and if a developer does not bring DLC to a system, whether we like it or not, that does have an effect on sales.

  7. Komodo_Wolfgang Sunday 15th Dec 2013 at 23:01

    Im not even going to read that review.
    I got the game and its not left my console since.
    I HATED asassins creed and not touched one till black flag. Its the best game Ive played on the Wii U so far.Id say its a must have by far.

    not everyone cares about over priced dlc though. other than a few cod and battlefield maps, id never pay for dlc.

    I agree, but theres some challenges you can do in the assassins initiates website which are fun. The special one this month however you cant do because you cant go to the place because its DLC only :(


    Still. Get this game.

  8. imbusydoctorwho Tuesday 17th Dec 2013 at 14:15

    Glad I'm getting this for Christmas.

  9. liveswired Thursday 19th Dec 2013 at 19:18

    I was originally going to get it for the Wii U, but I later found out Ubisoft have no plans to release the DLC. Which was a bit disappointing considering I wanted to play the freedom cry DLC.

    People like you are the reason why the Wii U and Nintendo are being screwed by 3rd parties.

    Whining brats. I bet you would never have purchased the DLC anyway.

    It's a fantastic game, if enough Wii U owners started picking up excellent games the situation will change.

  10. fulhamben Saturday 28th Dec 2013 at 13:12

    I was originally going to get it for the Wii U, but I later found out Ubisoft have no plans to release the DLC. Which was a bit disappointing considering I wanted to play the freedom cry DLC.

    People like you are the reason why the Wii U and Nintendo are being screwed by 3rd parties.

    Whining brats. I bet you would never have purchased the DLC anyway.

    It's a fantastic game, if enough Wii U owners started picking up excellent games the situation will change.


    think you are being way to harsh there. I can see his point about not getting the wii u version because it doesn't have the same extras as other consoles. as I said above dlc doesn't bother me so I got this version but it clearly does bother some others, and it hardly makes someone a spoiled brat for wanting to get the wii u version only to find out its inferior to all the others. and the reason Nintendo are getting screwed by third parties is mainly down to third parties making naff versions of other games (although this is not one of)

  11. retrogeezer Saturday 28th Dec 2013 at 13:57

    I got the game and its not left my console since.

    For the 1st time I agree with wolfgang on this. ACIII was dire I didn't bother getting that but this game is phenomenal. I have gave myself a year plus to complete this game 100%. This should of scored better than Mario 3Dworld, my kids completed the main story, got Rosalina and all the stars for every level just 5 stamps to collect within 2 weeks. More games like Black Flag are needed for serious gamers, looking forward to Watch Dogs in March and Project C.A.R.S.

    The graphics aren't much less than the PS4 version,the bonus side is it is now half price in GAME only Ł25 if you haven't got it already :)

  12. Gargravarr Tuesday 7th Jan 2014 at 19:27

    How is this game for a newcomer to the series? I've never played an Assassin's Creed game in my life but I've seen the special edition of this game going for about half price and heard lots of positive feedback about the game in general so I'm wondering if I should take the plunge?

  13. flattopboy Friday 10th Jan 2014 at 12:53

    amazing game loved it shame theres no DLC

  14. Yell-Darb Friday 24th Jan 2014 at 19:05

    Got it for my Birthday last sunday......... Amazing game that I wouldn't have got if I hadn't read the review in ONM!
    Ubisoft owes you guys. :D

  15. John Atkinson Tuesday 17th Jun 2014 at 21:33

    I'll be picking this up at some point now it's permanently reduced to Ł20 on e-shop. Having bought MK8, Zelda WW HD (for free), Arkham City and Origins and Lego Batman 2 in the last couple of weeks as they were selling them dirt cheap I can wait. I'm still working my way through Zombi U, one of the benefits of owning a console that was not selling amazingly seems to be that you can pick up some amazing titles for next to nothing, I love my WiiU :)

  16. flattopboy Saturday 16th Aug 2014 at 06:20

    thinking about this as its on sale on the e shop

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