It’s a miracle! Assassin’s Creed really still isn’t dead! No, for yet another year, Ubisoft have re-re-resurrected the corpse of runny-runny-stabby-stabby to bring Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. I can’t deny that even though I’ve sworn off the series since Revelations, the theme of pirate ships and swashbuckling is at least somewhat of a draw, so I gave it a chance.
Remember all the ship sailing in Assassin’s Creed III? As in, the best bit even though the game’s supposed to be about assassinating? Well, fortunately good old Ubi have seen the potential in this and once again you’ll be seafaring plenty in Assassin’s Creed IV:Black Flag. Our demo started with a naval battle from the get-go, with the usual armory of swivels, main cannons and flails blasting as waves cascaded onto the deck and enemy frigates stormed towards us. After sinking the oncoming fleet, the next job was to assault a coastal fortification and deal out enough damage while avoiding a barrage of incoming fire.
This all sounds good, right? It is, but the sad thing is this: it’s all recycled Assassin’s Creed III material from top to bottom, especially when you step off the vessel. Dual wielding cutlasses sounds a lot more interesting than it is, with combat still being that ‘counter to win’ system that’s been run and done over the past five games. I loved the series at beginning (even the first title) for its imaginative story, but there’s no imagination any more, with creativity seeming to be sieved out with every new entry. Here was a chance for a whimsical and rejuvenated piratical adventure, but it’s so self-absorbed in its seriousness that it all just feels so drab; the billionth wise-crack by yet another stubbly rogue feeling like a drop in an ocean of piss. Give me near-mute Altair over these droll drawling drones.
Perhaps I’m jaded (I’m definitely jaded), and if Assassin’s Creed III was still a blast for you, then Black Flag delivers in spades. To me AC3 was a mouldy yesterday-pizza, a plain margherita scared to add any appealing ingredients, and Black Flag is just microwaving the crusts. God, pass the grog.