on November 23, 2013
Um... wow. I just finished playing this game this evening (no, I haven't finished it, I am just done for the evening... I just know somebody is already clicking the comment button... "you didn't finish this game you corporate plant!!!!" No, I'm not a plant either. Maybe a zombie. Right now anyway), and this will be the only review I write for the xbox one. This game brings back what was best about Assassin's Creed 2 and basically removes everything from Assassin's Creed 3. Like AC 2, AC 4 has a suave, interesting character (less moral, though, at least so far... but fun) -- rather than a whiny, angry kid with no appeal drawn from an ultra-liberal politically correct manual that makes the average liberal wince and the average conservative throw the remote across the room (AC 3 anyone?). No one will ever have the appeal of Ezio Auditore, but the characters in this game draw you in like AC did at its best.
Unlike AC 3, exploration in AC 4 is loads of fun. It doesn't feel like work. Every street of Havana is full of color and life, and sunshine (nice in the winter here by Puget Sound; also, nice in the summer when it rains everyday). I found myself wandering the streets, staring at people, and climbing buildings just for fun -- I even have been doing side quests -- it's what it felt like to be in AC 2, where it is a joy to experience the world they have created. I just rushed through AC 3, and I hated exploration... it always felt like work. Caribbean islands and seas are nothing short of remarkable on the xbox one.
Controls feel smooth and familiar, offering you more choices in combat (like in the Ezio trilogy, but unlike AC 3... see a theme yet?), buying stuff matters again, and I find myself excited about an AC game for the first time since Ezio. Honestly, I may end up liking this game even more than the Ezio trilogy. Big words, I know, but this game really takes the Xbox One out for a spin. Gorgeous, simply unbelievable setting and graphics.
After BF 4 I thought I was impressed by the Xbox One, but it is AC 4 that has really made me excited about the next generation of gaming and glad I invested the money to buy it. This is the first game that I don't feel bad in the slightest paying $60 since Skyrim. Even BF 3+4 and COD require expensive season passes to get the full value of the game... AC 4 on Xbox One is the best value for the money of any game out there.
--- EDIT 11/17/14 ---
Well, about a year has passed. I don't usually update my reviews, but because this review is listed on the home page and seems to get a lot of viewing, I wanted to do my civic duty and update it.
First, I still haven't beat it. I constantly got caught up in the side stories and never did finish the main story. Part of that is because, well, the main story just isn't all that amazing, and it really doesn't fit with open world very well. You either do side stuff or the main story. I guess that's par for the course, but truly compelling writing would not allow that.
You get bored of most games eventually, so it isn't fair to criticize the game for that, really it is the total hours spent before getting bored that matters, as well as the sense of satisfaction at "beating" a game -- which never happened (obviously). In the end I got distracted by newer games. Watch Dogs, for instance, had much more staying power -- I did get bored, but only after beating it and loving it.
Bottom line? I guess I feel like this game is gorgeous, a wonderful early game for Xbox One, but not truly compelling. I never did learn to care all that much for the characters, though they were fun, and I never really learned to care about the story. Storming bases and capturing ships was really fun, but got old -- which is allowed, you won't enjoy anything forever -- but the story falling flat is much harder to forgive.
At the current price, though, this game is a wonderful bargain. I don't regret buying it at all, and I stand behind my original review. I got to beat it now so I can play the next installment (which sounds pretty broken right now).
On a side note -- Battlefield 4 turned out to flop -- that seems worth pointing out as I reference that in my review. Titanfall was the winning shooter of Xbox Year 1 for me. Feel free to pour on the hate. :)