Genre: Action / Adventure | Players: 1 / Multi | Developer: Ubisoft
Pop or feed the disc into your machine, allow it to install, get the huge (over one gig) patch to fix all the things that should’ve been fixed before it was released, sign in or skip the Ubisoft registration and you’ll finally be ready to play Black Flag, a prequel to the previous game, Ass Creed III (2012). It takes the seafaring aspect of III and expands it, giving you full access to your very own upgradable pirate ship and a huge ocean environment in which to jolly and roger around in.
Navigating is as simple as turning the bow of your ship in the direction you want to go and instructing the crew to drop sails. There are occasional hazards and enemy fleets to contend with, but unlike, for example, TLoZ: Wind Waker (2003), the actual journeying from place to place isn't dull. You can pick up flotsam and jetsam, go whaling (nasty, nasty business), engage other ships in combat and even have the crew sing sea shanties to fill the silence. The shanties are excellent.
Once you've discovered a location and synced with it by climbing to specific high points you can fast travel there at any time without having to set sail. Fast travel comes in very handy for side-quests and gathering collectables: Animus fragments, maps, buried treasure, hunting, crafting, upgrading (self and ship) and collecting sea shanty pages are some of what the world offers. The menus are packed with additional info relating to all aspects of the gameworld, from actual historical records of people and locations to transcribed song lyrics.
The story is better than anything Desmond ever had. As Edward Kenway you'll make friends, lose friends and even bury a few. I loved how they deepened the layers of interaction through him. You’re an Abstergo employee playing around inside the genetic memories of someone else who, at one time, is a pirate masquerading as an Assassin who’s masquerading as a Templar. Bravo, team.
The modern day sections of the game are more colourful than usual, but are still generally crap in comparison to the Animus adventures. Searching for sticky notes is a pain in the ass and playing a variation of Frogger to hack a computer is stupid.
The music has always been one of the best things about the series. In that it excels again, this time courtesy of Brian Tyler. It's been in my head for weeks.
I'd rather not end this review on a downer, but Ubisoft leave me little choice because in order to access small but crucial parts of the game—parts that are on the actual disc when you buy it, not DLC—players are required to create an account with their UPlay division. If you want to acquire all ship adornments and completely fill your inventory in the one player game then you need that UPlay account. Consequently, my AC IV inventory remains incomplete.
4 teeth of Neptune out of 5