Impression: Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag: a pirate looking at a ship
A pretty game about pirates.

I’ve done it. I’ve played the last Assassin’s Creed of my collection long enough (about 8 hours) for it to feel like a chore (again) and after I write these words I hope I’m done with the series for good. Hurray! Who would have thought that writing on a regular basis could feel like actual work?

Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag is the best Assassin’s Creed I played so far, which of course is no reason to get excited about because it’s still an ‘Assassin’s Creed’. The game looks very good, the controls are improved and, this is the really big news, there’s new things! They dialed back the stupid sci-fi stuff, no more Desmond Miles (I assume he strangled himself with his purse), and all in all things are slightly less frustrating. This time we are a pirate in the Caribbean, which is presented as a huge open world map on which we travel by ship. A ship we can control and upgrade. It’s fun. For a while.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag: Eagle Vision for the mentally challenged
‘Eagle Vision’ aka ‘Make the game accessible for the mentally challenged  – and blind people’

As I said, it’s still an Assassin’s Creed game. The melee combat system still feels slightly off, the Warner Bros titles (since Batman: Arkham Asylum) do it so much better. It still happens way to often that the parkour gameplay ends by accidentally grabbing that low hanging window latch and remaining there in awkward and unmoving shame, completely ruining any exciting stuff that happened up until this point. And as fun as the sea battles are, the bad camera controls regularly pushed me a little step closer towards madness.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag: a screenshot
I tried taking a screenshot with a controller – it worked!

I am still surprised, that this series is so popular. It doesn’t provide the polished camera and controls I would expect from such a major triple A title. Despite the sea battles, the (very minor) ship management and the spectacular visuals, it still feels all much too similar to the older games. And yet, if for some reason I might feel all piratey at some point in the future I can imagine myself picking this game up again and having fun. Right now, I feel more like strangling someone with a man purse.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag: another screenshot
I don’t remember why I took this one.

Info: As usual the game was developed by Ubisoft Montreal, and released in 2013. If you really feel like playing Assassin’s Creed it’s probably a good starting point.

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