Doug McCormack sails in with Tag-Team: Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag Part 2; after Dave was unimpressed in Part 1, this installment sees us look at the positive side of the title and there’s certainly much to be excited for…
If I told you that in development right now there’s an open world adventure starring pirates – what would your reaction be? If I suggested that it was a completely free-form adventure where you captain a vessel, sail a vast and populated Caribbean from Jamaica to Nassau; partake in naval battles, seamlessly inter-meshed with hand to hand combat, would you be excited? What If I were to add that you can visit over fifty towns, coves, hidden ruins and jungles developed by a massive team with a proven track record shipping AAA open world adventures- would you be eager to pre-order? What if I told you it’s yet another Assassin’s Creed game, would your opinion sour? It shouldn’t.
Chasing Charles Lee
First things first, unlike Dave, I was disappointed with Assassins Creed III. For every great idea, such as the game’s setting during the American Revolution – or the phenomenal naval combat, there were some poor design choices. An interminably long tutorial got the game off to a uncertain start. The under-utilized homestead economy, which didn’t help or hinder your progress, could be easily be ignored. Then there were the infamous foot chases, which reminded me of the worst excesses of the original Assassins Creed, were an unmitigated failure. In fact, the final sequence, which found you chasing arch-villain Charles Lee through a ship-yard, found you falling foul of arbitrary scripted “events” like spontaneously exploding barrels isn’t far off one of the worst experiences I have had gaming in the last five years! Often it felt that the countless Ubisoft development teams around the world were operating in hermetically sealed vaults unaware of what each other are doing and frantically trying to hammer the game together and not always succeeding.
But when they did succeed, they triumphed.
My enduring memories of AC3 are the naval battles. The mechanics of holding fire before cresting a wave, maneuvering your ship to line up a shot and release a broadside upon a hapless vessel was more fun than it had any right to be. I’m especially happy to see that rather than being a handful of side missions, this is now a core mechanic in Assassins Creed IV and I’m eager to see how this can be developed further as an even more satisfying and tactical mode of gameplay.
Assassin’s and Templars. And Pirates.
Dave rightly points out that pirates in media have been done to the point of cliche; I’m less concerned by this. The narrative of the AC series resolves around the seemingly endless war between Assassins and Templars. Time and again the Templars have proven adept at infiltrating positions of power within governments and armies.The Caribbean of the 1800’s was a political hotbed with various Old World empires and crowns jockeying for leverage and wealth. What better place is there for both warring factions to come into conflict?
Thematically I feel there’s value in another Assassins Creed game irrespective of the annual output and if Ubisoft can deliver on half of what they’re claiming this will be their best yet.
– Doug McCormack. Follow him on Twitter @Doug_McCormack