Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag Review and System Specs

* Graphics engine is great, water rendering is even better than AC3 which was already great
Combat system is the same as AC3 – a few bugs here and there, but
overall pretty good — great moves to watch as you play. Glad they kept
double-executions in.
* The underwater bell-diving missions were a
lot of fun and gorgeously rendered. I suspect these replaced the “tomb”
missions from previous installments.
* Usage of “cover” was greatly
upgraded to provide better / more realistic stealth missions. The brush
is so much thicker that it’s actually believable that he can sneak
around in it.
* Shawn / Rebecca – It was good to see Shawn / Rebecca
put in the game. I would like to think they will be in the next game as
well with bigger roles.

* (see other for detailed notes on overall game thoughts) (some small spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk)
Major story plothole identified as soon as the game starts — Edward is
initially in his 20s and is basically a drunken privateer. He
“acquires” an assassin’s robes and hidden blades and apparently just
putting the stuff on gives him Ezio / Connor’s fighting abilities and
skill, not to mention the ability to be stealthy and assassinate people
flawlessly (extreme sarcasm). It is never explained how he has eagle
vision, assassin skills, etc. in the context for Edward himself. You’re
just dropped in to the story. This is a major plothole. I spoke to some
other folks who have completed the game and they felt the same way.
Not nearly enough emphasis on the Assassin / Templar battle; until
Sequence 11 / 12, assassination missions seem thrown in by necessity
more than because they fit the plotline. The plotline is just
very…scattered. It doesn’t flow well at all.
* In Brotherhood (the
best of them along with AC2), side missions (courtesan, thief,
assassination) were installed in tiers and unlocked as you progressed
through the game because they directly tied in to the main storyline.
This is not the case in AC4 — it feels like Ubisoft is simply putting
side missions in just to put them in. There is too much side “junk” that
has little (or nothing) to do with the main story of the game. It feels
like they’re just putting stuff in so they can say “look at all the
stuff we put in” even though much of it is low quality and does not
contribute much to the story. I’d rather have no side missions and
better flow of the main story if the side missions are going to feel so
weak and half-hearted, having virtually nothing to do with the main
character’s development or story.
* Once you acquire some of the
specialized armor in the game by completing certain missions, it doesn’t
render properly in the cutscenes — for example when wearing the Mayan
armor, when Edward motions like he’s putting his hood up, there’s no
hood, so it just looks strange.
* Whaling / harpooning — this struck
me as very low in taste to put this in the game. I only did the
missions I had to do to craft upgrades for Edward, but found the
missions themselves to be a major turnoff.
* Like Connor, Edward does
a lot of stupid things. Gets betrayed and doesn’t see it coming despite
the enhanced “senses” of his lineage. Gets “captured” for a year’s
time. It’s frustrating playing a game as a main character who is
supposed to be a true hero with special senses and fighting abilities,
who constantly does idiotic things. I didn’t even feel like I was
playing an AC game until about Sequence 11 / 12 — felt like a Pirates
of the Carribean knock-off.
* Too many viewpoints — this kinda falls
in with the “too many side missions” — way too many viewpoints.
Recommend less viewpoints that will reveal more of the map.
* As
mentioned in the pros section, I believe the “tomb” missions were
replaced with the Dive Bell missions. Now, while the Dive Bell missions
are awesome, missions like AC3’s Captain Kidd side missions were great.
They had awesome settings, and were mysterious and really neat. These
were sadly, missed.
* With Altair & Ezio, their unusual abilities
were emphasized in their respective stories, making you feel like you,
as the main character, were special — eagle vision, exceptional
free-running skills, advanced fighting capabilities, etc. were all
things that made you feel superior since they supposedly came from some
TWCB DNA. That you could go into a fight against 50 guys, and
conceivably win because of your superior abilities. With Edward (and
Connor in AC3), it feels like you’re just some average Joe out there,
with very little explained. One of the things that always made AC games
so cool and interesting is the mystery factor to it. That seems to be
missing significantly.
* Like AC3, the music in AC4 is terrible. AC2
and ACBrotherhood had wonderful music that helped to make both games
magical. AC3 and AC4 have sorely lacked it, and it is incredibly
noticeable; for the worse.
* One of the things that made Ezio’s
trilogy so special as well, is the fact that they stuck with the same
hero for a bit. They went through all of his introduction and training
to become a master fighter and assassin in AC2, and continued it in ACB
/ACR — this gave us plenty of time to get used to our hero, and become
attached to him. By switching heroes up constantly, they prevent this
from happening.
* The story lacks much personalized drama /
excitement. Yes there are battles, and people who aren’t nice to Edward.
But there wasn’t a lot of “drive” for Edward to want to kill the people
he ends up killing. It feels more forced than anything else. I think
back to AC2 / ACB and how well they developed the enemy characters that
you eventually killed that it made it almost personal. It feels like
there is very little character development on the part of Edwards
enemies. Cesare & Lucrezia were such welcome additions to ACB and
added so much with regard to the drama factor. Heck, add a girl templar
in to the mix that our assassin has a bit of feeling for and you’ll
really be rolling with some good drama effect.
* Killing Desmond — I
know this is from AC3’s ending so it’s old news, but it’s worth
pointing out how badly this plot choice by the AC3 story writers
impacted the quality of this series. This was just a DUMB move by their
storywriting team. I had really enjoyed Desmond’s character development
(along with that of Shawn / Rebecca) and interactions with his team. By
AC3, he was a full fledged assassin, and his missions were actually a
lot of fun. Now that they killed him, they’ve severely limited
interaction with the assassin team which was also very fun to follow
when you were out of the animus.
As an avid fan of this
series, I would simply say this game is very underwhelming. Ubisoft
needs to stop everything they’re doing with the AC series for about a
month, and seriously re-evaluate the direction they’re going with the
series. The crew that did AC2 and AC Brotherhood needs to be fully
recalled and put on the AC5 project. The next AC game needs to be a
homerun as they’ve now had back-to-back duds in AC3 / AC4. They need to
re-hire Jesper Kyd who did the music for those previous games as well.
They have lost the magic of the early parts of the series.
They need
to concentrate on storytelling, keeping things chronologically sensible
so that the story flows well. Need better character development, better
attention to detail on the assassins and their targets.
Need a direct
tie-in for the “present-time” hero that you are playing as also like
Desmond had. I truly hope they get things straightened out because I
love this series, and I don’t like what they’ve done with it with these
past two games.

Verdict: 60/100

System Specs


    • OS: Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8 (both 32/64bit versions)
    • Processor: Intel Core2Quad Q8400 @ 2.6 GHz or AMD Athlon II X4 620 @ 2.6 GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia Geforce GTX 260 or AMD Radeon HD 4870 (512MB VRAM with shader Model 4.0 or higher)
    • Hard Drive: 30 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card with latest drivers
    • Additional Notes: Windows-Compatible keyboard and mouse required, controller optional. 

    • OS: Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8 (both 32/64bit versions)
    • Processor: Intel Core i5 2400S @ 2.5 GHz or better or AMD Phenom II x4 940 @ 3.0 GHz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 470 or AMD Radeon HD 5850 (1024MB VRAM with Shader Model 5.0) or better
    • Hard Drive: 30 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card with latest drivers
    • Additional Notes: Supported video cards at
      the time of release: Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 or better and GeForce GTX
      400, GTX 500, GTX 600 and GTX 700 series. AMD Radeon HD4870 or better
      and Radeon HD5000, HD6000 and HD7000 series. Note: Latest GeForce
      drivers tested: 327.23 for all series. Latest Radeon drivers tested:
      13.1 for Radeon HD4000, 13.4 for Radeon HD5000, HD6000 and HD7000 series
      on Vista and 13.9 for Radeon HD5000, HD6000 and HD7000 series on Win7
      and Win8. Laptop versions of these cards may work but are NOT officially

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