As I near the island that my next target is on I notice, through my eyeglass, that there are five British ships that would not take too kindly to my presence. I tell the men to give me all sails, because we sit right on the air current, sending us straight toward our destination. I call for mortar fire on three of the smaller ships that were huddled together to get them out of the way for the huge Man-O-War that sits in my path. They sink all to easily as my newly upgraded Mortar cannons shreds through their deck. The cost, I gain the attention of the rest of their friends. I quickly tell the men to raise the sails a bit so I can get in a better posision to use the broadside cannons. “Hit the deck” I say as they shoot their first volley of cannons at us. The ships takes a bit of damage but not enough to stop us from firing our heavy cannonballs and opening up their hull. While waiting for the men to reload I ram into another of the smaller ships. After an array of cannon fire we arrive victorious. We quickly tie to their ship so that we can greet our new friends. I let go of the wheel and take to the rope, swinging across I get a good angle on one of our new friends and greet him with one of my blades in his neck. As I fight off the crew one by one I decide to let my crew handle the rest and go for my prize. I climb the mast and cut the flag from their ship just in time for them to surrender.
This is just one of the off-scripted battles that I have had while playing Black Flag. This game has centered itself around Edward Kenway, a pirate who’s main goal is to get as rich as possible. The Jackdaw, the ship used to navigate the Caribbean, upgraded is a force to be reckoned with. The Jackdaw quickly becomes your best friend as you plunder the many different islands for booty.
The game utilizes the naval gameplay introduced in Assassin’s Creed 3 but, this time, gives you full range on where you want to go. The ship controls are simple to learn and adapt to. The ship can be set to three different speeds, anchor, half mast, full mast, and Travel Speed. Travel speed speeds up the ship and zooms out allowing you to get a better view of the environment which is greatly detailed. The Ubisoft developers ensure their was plenty to do in terms of ship battles as described above, fort battles in which you are firing on a ocean side fort, hidden caverns, and deep sea diving using a diving bell.
The battle system can be closely compared to that of Assassin’s Creed 3. You have your counter, attack, and alternative(guns, darts, etc) mapped to the face buttons which allow for simple and smooth battles. At times I find it frustrating while fighting on ships because your crew tends to get in your way causing you to swing at air and allowing another guy off screen to get a good lash at your back. I personally prefer the fighting on land where I don’t have my crew getting in my way. Even though, after finding the rope darts, it is fun to hang enemies on the masts of the ship. The in game missions still suffer a little by the sneak and eavesdropping missions but most are not instant fail like in previous games. If caught you have the option to fight, or run and hide, to fight another day; if you so please.
The story takes a slight turn from the main line of the Assassin’s Creed franchise in a sense that Edward is not an “Assassin” throughout most of the game leading his assassinations based mostly on the amount of coin that is to be had. Which is rare seeing as how the other games in the franchise use a character that is strongly driven by the code of the creed. With no rules or regulations to abide by you are free to do as you please without worrying about the organization. This game puts you more on a path that makes you want to focus on your ship and the fleet rather than that of the Assassins. The Assassin and Templar conflict is still there just not as in your face as previous games.
The game still takes place through the use of an Animus (A device used to dive into the life of your ancestors) but, in the current time, you are yourself as an Abstergo employee diving into the life of Kenway as research for a movie. You can leave the animus whenever you like and are allowed to explore your place of work as you please. A bit into the game you are granted the ability to hack your coworkers computers and find out more about the company you work for through the use of a couple of different mini-games. As you dive further and further you learn more and more about the different things that Abstergo has been working on in its years.
This game overall gives plenty to do and a fun way to do them. If your not sure about the naval battles test it out over a friends first, because if the naval mechanics holds no appeal to you or your not a fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise then the game may not be for you. This game is a great point for anyone new to the series to enter and enjoy. It’s worth a try in the least.