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Straying away from what made the series great.
on June 20, 2014
I'm a big Assassin's Creed fan. Have been since the release of the first game of the series (despite it's repetitiveness). The Ezio trilogy, consisting of 2, Brotherhood, and Revelations are still among the best in my book, and even Assassin's Creed 3, though it's formula was somewhat altered, still held its own; serving as the exciting climax of Desmond Miles' storyline. To me, this series has always been about it's incredible story arc and how it fuses both gameplay and story as one to make for an immersive and worthwhile experience. This is where, unfortunately, Assassin's Creed 4 falls a bit short.
I, personally, was never a huge fan of the ship battles in Assassin's Creed 3, but since they were few and far between I didn't mind them so much. But to have fully integrated them in Black Flag? This alone made almost half of the missions seem more of a chore than actual fun. Mind you, I did most of the side missions as well, acquiring all but one of the elite ship plans and upgrading the entire ship as much as possible thus far. What pains me the most is the clunky control mechanics behind it all. It isn't as smooth and seamless as say the character scaling a building. Another irritating factor would be crashing. It was a constant struggle, especially when colliding with a small island when you weren't near one? Perhaps some unpolished coding there.
As for the missions, some were okay at best, and others a bit troublesome in terms of actually being able to enjoy what you were supposed to be doing. Tailing & Eavesdropping missions are the absolute worst of the bunch. You have to 'tail' a target for a number of minutes, at times unable to listen or read what they say in the subtitles due to needing to get away from restricted areas, or work your way around a guard, etc. Once the tailing is done, you then have to eavesdrop which consists of remaining within a short radius of the target without being detected all while avoiding guards. All of this takes away from actually being able to listen to the conversations that your target is having, which could be of importance in the storyline.
To me, this game left the impression that Ubisoft has strayed from what made this series as incredible as it has been. It feels as though they're trying to tailor it to a much wider audience and because of it they're sacrificing elements of the series that made it what it is today--as if its growing popularity has warranted a change to appeal to the masses instead of those whom have loved its formula from day 1.
In short, I'd recommend playing it through if you can find it for $20 or less, specifically for the side missions when outside of the animus in first person view. These missions actually offer more in depth information on previous Assassin's Creed games than when playing as Edward Kenway himself.
Lastly, what I'd say irritated me most of all was how the game ended. From what I gather, Abstergo was hell bent on finding out where the Observatory was. Once you find it as Edward, there was no mention of it anymore. Not as Edward, or in first person view when outside of the Animus. Not the vials of blood, nor the crystal skull. Or even what they'd planned on doing with it? If they'd go to its location? Nothing of the sort happened in the main story, and all you were left with was a wave of unanswered questions. I'm aware that Edward inquired about the vials of blood at the end, and where they'd gone since they were missing from the Observatory, and how he'd returned the crystal skull, but would Abstergo go and retrieve it? The storyline was seemingly cut off. If anyone could elaborate on my perhaps missing something in the game, I'd greatly appreciate it.