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Still cringing from the epic lack of pace at the beginning of Assassin’s Creed III? Join the rest of the world in celebrating the launch of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. Rave reviews abound as the return of the assassins is heralded by Connors grand predecessor Edward, a womanizing pirate. Fans of the previous Assassin’s games will know the series for its great set pieces and excellent combat system. This time around, fans of the Assassin’s Creed franchise have that and much to look forward to with a new character to play and another new world to explore. The replay value for this game, with the possible exception of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, has the potential for the highest replay value of any Assassin’s game and here are a few reasons why.
1. Starting with immediate action and keeping it that way
The pace of a game for AC4 throws the player into the world of Assassin’s Creed with a furious glee. Unlike the start of AC III, which was mind-numbingly boring since even the back story put you to sleep, AC4 charges off into action immediately, inserting you into the life of Edward. There is no ‘if’s, ‘and’s or ‘but’s about it, the pace throughout the entire game doesn’t need to build from a start point but rather rises and falls like a good game should.
2. Great character design
Say what you will about Desmond’s character but ACIII’s Connor was made from a cookie cutter recipe. In AC4, you’ll learn about Edwards womanizing ways but also his passion for life and his depth of character. His character is intuitively interesting, echoing back to Ezio’s character rather than Altair. The man has a way about him that is just cool and in this seafaring pirate setting, it is pretty much the best place for an enterprising player to enjoy his time roaming the world. Edward is the James Bond of the Assassin’s Creed realm.
3. The return of naval combat
One of the great things about ACIII was the naval combat and this time it has been refined so that players can really see where they’re aiming at, assuming the gorgeous background doesn’t distract them first. Beautiful sunsets aside, the naval combat at AC4 romanticizes combat aboard a ship to a small degree but otherwise keeps to the truth and sense of style that is expected of an Assassin’s Creed game. This specific mechanic, above all others, has the most replay potential compared to the previous Assassin’s Creed games and treat ships like they are the medieval starship Enterprise. Upgrading your ship is particularly fun as well, reminding gamers of Monteriggioni Villa from previous installments, in the best way possible.
4. PS4 exclusive content and changes
This isn’t DLC content or anything that will end up on the XboxOne, this is prime content that adds precious time to your AC4 gameplay. It is well worth the extra wait to get the PS4 content and experience it yourself first hand. There is enough here to really put more meat into the game. In particular, a return of our favorite girl Aveline with exclusive Playstation 4-only missions. A smart move by developer Ubisoft in this case, since the extra content also promotes the purchase of a PS4.
Additionally, there’s smoother animation refresh rates, plus the sense of the gameplay itself runs more seamlessly. Besides the better graphics on the next-gen consoles, the visuals during combat don’t stutter at all unlike reports that the PS3 version jumped during bigger combat scenes.
5. Better AI in combat
Not since Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood has combat been this refreshing. While the flow gets better with each successive game, the enemy AI have left something to be desired. In AC4 they are actually smarter and will try to get around you. Smooth is the name of the game here and button bashing will only get you killed quicker. Choosing how to attack your enemies has always been fun and it’s thankfully a little more open than in previous games.
On top of that, the awful shooting mechanic from the previous game is replaced with a much better system that does not make it impossible to fire your weapon. In fact, shooting in AC4 can be compared to the Gun-Kata from the Christian Bale movie ‘Equilibrium’ – it’s that fun.
6. Crafting is actually useful
One of the pitfalls of ACIII is that many people didn’t like searching for materials to build better gear, when that gear had zero affect on the game’s combat. This is more rewarding in AC4 and that is a blessing for anyone who really wants to get into the native pirate life. There is no advancement in technology of any kind so you are really down in the bushes like a survivalist, hunting for your equipment. That gives a great deal of satisfaction, when you feel like your efforts impact your gameplay experience. Similar to Monster Hunter games of old or more recently Far Cry 3, the crafting system is generally fun and is a low impact way to have some down time between main story missions and multiplayer.
Image credit: Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag via Facebook