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on March 13, 2016
TLDR: You can tell this is meant to be a pirating sandbox game, but the added "Assassin's Creed" in the title means all the extra baggage that entails had to be included in the game as well. Sailing = okay. Everything else = upsetting. The following is a long list of complaints.

I know I'm in the minority by giving this game a negative review, but it is good to have differing opinions, so here I go...

Black Flag portrays several years in the life of Edward Kenway, a nobody with dreams of grandeur. Kenway is a man who loves the idea of his wife more than his wife herself and thus decides to abandon her for a decade or more in order to raise enough money to take care of her, yet meanwhile leaves her with nothing and no support...

Poor backstory develops into poor main story as we follow Kenway in his pirating adventures. The story starts off slow, completely disappears for 4 sequences as you hunt for medicine, and eventually concludes with a "that's it?" feeling of disappointment. As a gamer who finds story to be as--if not more--important than how the game is played, this is entirely unacceptable. By sequence 9 I was literally running through every mission just to finish this pointless chore called a game.

AC4:Black Flag has every appearance of another 10-month rushed Ubisoft AC game, much the same as AC:Revelations. (I realize development was longer than that, but I can picture the project lead saying, "Drop everything! We've got an entirely new direction for AC4!") Players loved captaining a ship in AC3, so Ubisoft threw a game together around that singular aspect. All other aspects of the game seem to be in place simply so they could slap the title "Assassin's Creed" onto this game. In fact, you can see distinct differences in quality between sailing and everything else in terms of how the game is rendered, ease of control, mission scripts, and the like. The mechanics for captaining a ship work remarkably well; everything else simply doesn't.

This game should have been a mere sandbox pirating game instead of the 6th console installment of the AC series. As it stands, however, Black Flag has the feeling of an incomplete game with severe technical flaws that introduce numerous glitches. The two aspects that grieve me most of all are the huge dive backwards in control mechanics and the hastily thrown-together graphics that are barely on par with the PSN version of AC:Liberation. I couldn't even count the number of times Edward did exactly opposite of what I wanted or the number of times I died because Edward failed to block several attacks. Shadow rendering and other textures are a glob of black dots and lines, destroying the aesthetics of everything that moves. This graphical flaw appears to be limited only to animated objects, but that still means pretty much anything with motion is simply ugly to look at.

In-game tutorials are completely backward. The game gives players more instructions for finding trinkets than it does for naval combat, which is the actual meat of the game. Captaining the ship and effectively attacking other vessels is not at all intuitive at first. Sailing controls become familiar over the course of a few game sequences, but Ubisoft could have saved me several hours of adapting by giving me a 10-minute training mission. I admit I am no hardcore gamer, so perhaps others will not find this as lacking as I did. The timing of what few tutorials are included in the game are all wrong as well. For example, you are "taught" how to complete assassin contracts and to discover Mayan artifacts in Sequence 4, but contracts have already been available the entire game and by is point you should have already found three Mayan artifacts from earlier main story missions.

Of course, all of this is per the usual of AC games--after all, you can capture forts in AC3 before Connor even teams up with Americans, and it takes 3 sequences for Ezio and 5 sequences for Connor to become assassins--but AC4 just seems to blunder worse an any of the previous titles (except for perhaps AC:Revelations, which is just awful). Even so, sailing the open seas is rather enjoyable, at least for a time. The game certainly does suffer from rapidly diminishing returns if you sail for the sake of sailing. Don't forget to actually progress the story in your travels!

What is unusual within this title compared to earlier AC releases is the annoying upgrade system and the terrible respawn locations. All previous AC titles required the use of gold to upgrade the protagonist's gear and then offered various methods by which to collect income. Black Flag's upgrade system throws money overboard and literally forces you to perform menial hunting tasks in order to gather the ridiculously over-varied quantity of supplies necessary to upgrade Edward's gear. Fortunately, weapons can still be paid for with money, merely your ability to carry additional ammunition is hindered. Upgrading the Jackdaw (Kenway's ship) is not as difficult, but it does force you into countless naval battles as you scrounge for raw materials. At one point is spent 4 hours just pursuing naval combat and was still only able to afford a handful of upgrades. What is most upsetting is that Ubisoft did this intentionally so that they could offer in-game purchases called "Time Saver packs" that give you whatever resources you need, for a price. Paying for DLC is one thing, but deliberately punishing players who refuse to buy your in-game purchases is a low blow.

As for the respawns, should you die or otherwise fail a mission or quest that involved getting somewhere by boat, the game respawns you leagues away from your destination. I assume this has something to do with not dropping you into the middle of conflict, but being placed just out of range of an enemy would have sufficed. I hated having to waste 5 to 10 minutes in travel every time I failed a mission.

In terms of the assassin aspects of AC games, Black Flag really isn't all that good. The game simply doesn't fit well within the Assassins-versus-Templars world. If, however, you rate the game based on the actions you perform and content available, this game is okay. Examining shipwrecks and engaging in naval combat is vastly superior to crawling through haystacks and slashing guards, though you'll still be doing much of the latter. Hunting for treasure and harpooning whales is another added plus to the monotony of looting chests and chasing pieces of paper in the wind. I only wish Ubisoft would get rid of eavesdropping missions. I find these tedious and obnoxious, yet are were so many of them that it feels every third mission requires eavesdropping.

I'd easily rank Black Flag among the worse games within the AC series. AC fans, be warned, this isn't your typical AC game. Your enjoyment of this game will be immensely improved if you don't dive in expecting a continuation of what you've been doing for the past several games. That being said, if you expect anything more than a sandbox sailing game, you'll probably be vastly disappointed.
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on May 1, 2017
This game tends to get overlooked because firstly, it's game by Ubisoft, who's reputation isn't that great in
the video game community; and secondly, it's one of many Assassin's Creed games, some of which (Unity, AC3)
have been pretty awful.

That said, this game is an absolute jewel:

1. Story: one of the best stories for a computer game ever. Strong, memorable characters, like the pirates
Blackbeard, Mary Read and Bartholomew Roberts. And the lead protagonist (Kenway) is pretty likeable too.
Story is long enough for you to get invested, while short enough that you don't get bored.

2. Graphics: considering the game came out in 2013 it boasts some pretty impressive graphics.

3. Gameplay. Gameplay is an utter blast. The standout feature of this game is the perfect balance between
naval warfare and assassin missions. The story constantly switches between the two, so you never get bored of
either.

4. Weapons: Nice array of weapons for both the assassin missions (eg. blow gun with sleep and beserker darts,
smoke bombs, rope darts) and naval missions (try the mortar guns -- you won't be dissapointed!)

In short, a very good looking game with oh so much to do. Highly recommended.

(Hint: build up the Jackdaw right from the start. You will face a very tough naval battle by the end of the game,
and you will need an over-powered Jackdaw to survive that fight).
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on June 17, 2014
I was a big fan of AC2, but didn't give AC3 much attention. I was skeptical a bit, on this one, but the pirate theme is one that hasn't been done enough in gaming, and the reviews are good, so I hopped on board. Now I can't put it down. Yes, it's pretty much "AC in the Caribbean", but the execution is masterful, and the variety of activities is so vast and seamlessly integrated, it's an absolute gem of a game. Treasure hunts, sea battles, exploration, pirate/assassin missions... each feature unique and yet engaging in its own right. When you get tired of killing, .. you can take to the seas .. or explore a new town... or decipher a treasure map.. or hunt for wild animals... or.. you get the idea.

However, I was never quite interested in the whole "Animus" angle, that you're actually reliving an historical character through some virtual reality headset, like in the other AC titles. It just doesn't seem necessary to the game and I've never really understood that storyline anyway. Why would I want to "turn off" the pirate game so I can walk around an office building and have meetings with middle managers? Sounds too much like my real life. So I just stay a pirate as much as possible.

All in all, a gorgeous game, well voiced, with a deep story, and an enormous, diverse world to keep you entertained for weeks.
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on May 23, 2014
I upgraded to the PS4 version using the digital download code that came with the game. Huge difference in graphics between PS3 and PS4. I know because I got to play it on both systems.

I originally got this on PS3 for my brother. He had just got Grand Theft Auto V and was busy playing that. Lucky for me, I got to play it for awhile. I payed the $10 to upgrade to PS4 and I enjoyed the game so much that I ended up purchasing my own PS3 copy after my brother took his back.

This is my favorite Assassin's Creed by far. I've played the original and a few others. I love that they focused on pirates for this game. The sailing is new to the series and hardcore fans seem to dislike it. I guess I'm not a hardcore fan because sailing was my favorite thing to do! I loved this part of the game! LOVED it! You can customize the ship as well as upgrade it and its cannons. You can pull up to other ships, board them, have an epic sword fight and then rape and pillage! Well maybe not rape but you can pretend (haha). I hope they make another game focused on being a pirate.

Besides the sailing, this game keeps to the core of the series. All the usual stuff from previous games. Still a ton of optional objects to collect, things to unlock and places to locate. I thought the story was good, never had an issue with it. Another new thing is the addition of diving underwater in order to explore shipwrecks while evading deadly sea creatures. I enjoyed this as well.

Bottom line is that there are not many games on the PS4 to choose from, good games anyway. Currently, I believe this game is definitely one of the best on the PS4. I highly recommend this one!

If you have questions, I'll answer them. Take care!
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on July 23, 2014
I wasn't expecting to buy this game--at least not near the launch date--as I was disappointed by AC3, and Black Flag's release seemed a bit soon after the previous installment. I also hated the ship battles in AC3, so there's that. However, after hearing good things about this game, and seeing that it was only $15 on here, I gave it a shot.

The game started off rocky, as I had trouble processing the story. However I soon began enjoying it, as some aspects did remind me of fellow Ubisoft games Far Cry 3 (wildlife, islands) and Splinter Cell Blacklist (pulling the enemy in from cover and killing him). After a while the story began to piece itself together, and the plot was actually enjoyable. The ship battles were fun a times, mostly due to improvements to upgrade my ship. The story was emotional at times, and I almost shed a man tear (almost... last time this nearly happened was The Last of Us).

I never enjoyed the present day storyline in any of the Assasin's Creed games, and this one was a little confusing. Also there weren't any answers to the present day storyline from AC3. Usually I would take a star off for this, but the Kenway story was enjoyable enough to cover the damage. A very good game overall, and now my expectations for Unity are very high (stealth mode coming, finally!).
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on July 23, 2014
Ubisoft seems to be in love with their newly developed naval battle system from AC3, which i personally hate, it looks amazing and all, but it's just not what i'm looking for in a assassin's creed game.

The world is too big, quests are repetitive, it's a long grind to finish every quest and most importantly, the story is... i don't want to say lame, but i don't even care what happens next. I guess character development takes a part of the blame too, i simply do not care. For months i've just been exploring the open world, when i get bore i'd just stop playing and maybe a week or two later i'd wanna play for a few more hours again.

Anyway, to sum up,
- it does not have an amazing story (so far, since i still haven't finish the game)
- poor character development, players don't get any attachment to the character
- long and repetitive gameplay
- 85% naval battle, not what i am looking for in an AC game

Not looking forward to the next assassin's creed game, maybe it's better that way to not have any expectations at all.
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on July 20, 2014
I have loved every game in the Assassin's Creed line from the very first one. The graphics, gameplay, story, historical information, everything is simply stunning. This one is no exception. Even though the Pirate fad dried up a few years ago, this game might just bring it back. Once you get into this, you won't want to let it go.

When you start the storyline, you are sort of skeptical, waiting for the cliches, hoping that they don't say, "why is the rum gone," or "bloody pirates," or "arr matey," but even when they do it is well placed and feels right. Besides that, it is basically another of the Templar vs. Assassin plot lines, but with pirates thrown in. Plenty of historical fun facts too.

When the beginning of the story ends, and you find yourself more or less free to do as you please, everything gets real, and fast. Your ship can be customized, with sails, figureheads, etc. The open world gameplay means you can finish the story at your own pace. You can transition from piloting your ship to free running on foot and back again WITHOUT a loading screen, and that alone is wonderful.

The game controls almost the same as AC3, with the enhanced free running and smoother controls. Above all else, the ships are pure glory. You can freely roam around the caribbean seas, sinking all kinds of ships, destroying forts, and just being a boss. I have never seen a game capture the effect of pirating or even sailing quite like this.

Ever seen the sun set on the seas of tortuga? With the graphics and art in this game, you will. Everything has detail, all of the sunsets and harsh storms and little tropical towns have a realistic feel. This is like a vacation in a game.

If you liked pirates at any point in your life, I strongly, personally, recommend this one. Just being at the helm of a tall ship, crashing through the waves, your crew of misfits singing a shanty to pass the time and raise the spirits...It's all worth it. Even if that ship on the horizon with the red sails is coming for you.

If you read all that, thanks, and my apologies for practically writing a book and gushing over the game. Simply said, buy this one, you won't regret it.

5/5 Stars, hands down.
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on February 18, 2016
This is almost as addicting to watch as it is to play. My husband was obsessed with this game for weeks, and I have to say I was pretty entertained just sitting an watching. The graphics are amazing, plot line fun, my only gripe was that he hit a "level" or stage about halfway through that he tried for over a week and couldn't figure out how to get through, I dislike when there are games that feature an area so difficult that you either a) give up b) tear your hair out playing it for hours and having a nervous breakdown or c) "cheat" and look online to see how to pass it. Other than that, fun game!
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on December 28, 2013
I say this is the best Assassins Creed because I didn't really get bored like the other games. I would say the game is 50% Pirate 50% Assassin. This game stays true to the assassins creed formula and playing it feels the same. Now your thinking ok whats new.

True open world game which allows you to really do what you please even if you start playing the story missions you can still do side activities. People have always complain that the money system sucks because you become a millionaire and theirs nothing to use the money for. This time the game makes you feel like a pirate because no matter how much money you have its never enough, damn its never enough, you actually have to think and plan what do you want to use the money for and what's worth purchasing first. You need money for your hideout, for ammo, weapons, ship ammo and upgrades. And ship upgrades is a must if you want to survive in the long run. Even after completing the game and having about 40% of side missions completed how much treasure do I need to find, How many men do I need to continue to kill to have the money to fully upgrade my ship. and the thing is not only do you need money you also need materials to upgrade your ship so you need to go hunting, exploring or go plundering other ships.

If you played Assassins Creed 3 Naval Battles then this is what Black Flag is all about and you will enjoy it. In the beginning your gonna try to avoid the big bag guys to being fearless and destroy any ship that comes near.

Activities
-Treasure hunting on Land, Islands or under water
-Assassination Contracts
-Templar Hunts which is a short story about you trying to find the 5 men with the key to the ultimate Templar outfit
-Plunder other ships
- Searching for Collectible items

Exploration
-Islands, oceans and wreak ships
-For hunting there are a variety of animals and you can also go hunting in the oceans for sharks and whales.

After completing the game is it still worth playing. Yes because I need to fully upgrade my ship in order to battle the Legendary ship which is a beast. I get destroyed whenever I try my luck. So the ultimate challenge would be to send that ship to hell. Not one but 4 Legendary ships.

Graphics 9/10
Controls 8/10
Sound 10/10
Story 7/10
Side Missions 7/10
Replay Value 7/10
Game Play 8/10
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VINE VOICEon December 28, 2013
Like most video game reviews that I write, I make it very clear that I'm not one of those "gamers" that spends 24 hours on a new game to solve it immediately. I play for about an hour at a time, not only to draw out the experience, but to relish the game. Also, as a fairly "older" player (I'm in my 40's), I tend to expect a lot from my gaming experiences (not a big fan of games primarily for little kids). I'm happy to report my complete satisfaction with UBI Soft's new game "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag".

I first picked up this line of games with Assassin's Creed III. Because of the historical content (I wanted to see the renditions of Boston and other places), I was intrigued, and loved many aspects of the game. One of them was the sea battles that you completed from time to time. It only made sense that the new game capitalized on that aspect. And boy, they did.

You are a pirate, completing missions and ever increasing the strength of your ship as you progress through the game. There are still aspects of the game (the modern day story) that I'm not too fond of, but unlike III, that aspect doesn't confuse or bother me as much.

The sea battles are quite fun and quite stress reducing. Having a bad day? Attack and raid a few ships! As soon as I upgraded my ship the Jack Daw, attacking even the larger ships was fun. Going on raids, discovering buried treasure, and even harpooning sea life all makes for an enjoyable, escapist environment.

I highly recommend this game for casual players like me, just wanting some fun, to those more experienced, who truly want to make the most of the game and environment.
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