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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Man the cannons and brace for impact, because Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is here to blow up any preconceived notions you had about the annual franchise. With a great cast of characters and a huge world to explore, this next-generation sequel is the best installment since Assassin's Creed II. Rating: 78%
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
From the very beginning, the promise of Assassin's Creed was that players would be able to jump throughout time and take part in historical moments you rarely see in modern video games. Unfortunately, the series got a little sidetracked as it bounced from sequel to sequel. Instead of sending us on new adventures throughout time, Assassin's Creed began to repeat characters and eras. Worst of all, it focused too much on a Desmond Miles side story that ultimately went nowhere. By the time Assassin's Creed III showed up, the weight of the past games was too much to hold and the whole thing began to topple.

Based on the short turnaround, it's easy to be skeptical about Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. And yet, as cynical as I was going in, the game won me over by going back to the basics and giving me a compelling character to root for. This game showed me a time and place that has been all but forgotten by the video game industry, perfectly fulfilling the promise of the original Assassin's Creed.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Set a few decades before last year's Revolutionary War-themed installment, Black Flag ditches the red coats and opts for peg legs and eye patches. Instead of the snowy streets of Boston and New York, this game sets sail for burgeoning port towns like Havana, Nassau and Kingston. Perhaps the commercials are right; taking a Caribbean vacation really helped me get out of the rut left from Assassin's Creed III.

You play Edward Kenway, a privateer-turned-pirate who is on a quest for fame and riches. One day, while sailing the high seas, our hero is attacked by a man who turns out to be an Assassin. Of course, Edward doesn't know anything about this mysterious stranger. But that doesn't stop him from stealing the man's identity and inadvertently getting himself embroiled in a centuries-old battle between the Assassins and the Templars.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It doesn't take long for Edward to realize that he's gotten himself in way over his head, forcing him to flee the Templars, take a pirate ship and build up a crew of freed slaves. Along the way he learns the secrets of the Assassins and discovers men who claim to be hundreds of years old. And if that wasn't enough, he runs into the likes of Blackbeard, Benjamin Hornigold, Charlie Vane and other real life historical figures.

Of course, none of this is actually happening. If you want to get technical about it, you play a nameless employee at Abstergo Entertainment. It's your job to beta test an upcoming pirates-themed game the company is developing for UbiSoft. You do this by plugging into the animus, which is streaming samples taken from Desmond Miles' body. It's up to you to make sure the program runs smoothly and rate each memory.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Back in the animus, Edward takes command of his very own ship. This frees him to leave the large cities and explore the dangerous waters of the Caribbean. There are dozens of islands and noteworthy locations scattered around the giant map, each with their own hidden treasure chests, side-missions or bonus items. Players can also destroy and even board other ships in order to steal valuable resources. The ocean is your sandbox.

But don't get too comfortable, because sometimes the ocean can be a mean mistress. Edward will need to watch out for the occasional hurricane, water spouts, whales, and aggressive ships that don't like you sailing into restricted territory. If you can manage to overcome all that, you'll find that sailing in Black Flag is not only hugely satisfying, but it's actually freeing. There's a sense of peace when traveling long distances while listening to your crew sing sea shanties.
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