After a few months of legitimate being busy AND stalling I decided to finally play the latest installment of the Assassin's Creed series. I was a bit hesitant to play it after the terrible deus ex machina that was ACIII, but I actually enjoyed myself while playing this game. It's been since ACII that I've had that feeling with this series, with ACII only having only major flaw: battle system. But let's split up the different parts of the game and give all of them some commentary.
Needless to say, this little review will have a lot of spoilers. Stay clear if you don't want to be spoiled or have yet to play it!
Plot: the story of the game started a bit slow. It took two whole sequences (or chapters) for it to really get started. It was this slow start that made me a bit cautious at the start, but I feel the story ended up being worth it.
Of course this game, like all the others, is about the protagonist joining the assassins who stand for freedom and individuality against the templars, who stand for order and control. I feel the story added a new element in the alliance Edward Kenway took: for a long time he decided to just be a pirate. The reason I liked this was because we finally got to see the two organisations from a different, more neutral perspective. For all the other games we had assassins who joined up pretty early in the game and who seemed to have a one-sided mindset of the entire situation. Altaïr, Ezio and Connor all seemed to hate the templars to a fault, which is understandable. The assassins are the protagonists after all. ACIII tried to present a different perspective to the templars and tried to present it as just one of the two possible solutions, but to me it was rushed and something that felt forced. AC;BF, on the other hand, managed to implement it well and it was refreshing to see someone who rejected both camps for a long time. In fact, right after Edward joined the assassins at the end I felt the story got very stale. Three more people to assassinate and that's it. I felt the journey from a free man who loses everything he had far more enjoyable. It showed a certain sense of character development on Edward's part while also showing something stagnant. Edward kept foolishly believing in his own form of liberty, at the cost of everything else. The core tenet of the Assassin's order, but put in a different light.
One thing I didn't really enjoy was the linear progression of the storyline. With this I meant that all the quests pretty much required one solution and one path to get to it. There was never enough time or possibility to really get creative and fix the problems in your own way. You go to point A, then point B and you get given two challenges along the quest in order to "spice things up".
But as a whole the story was definitely enjoyable and right on par with the story of ACII in my opinion.
Gameplay and combat: This is a bit of a mixed bag. One one hand I did enjoy the vast exploration possibilities and the fact that the game really gave you a lot to play with. You can plunder ships, explore islands, collect a few special items, look for treasures,... I really got a sense that I was a pirate who enjoyed getting his booty, so the game succeeded in that part.
On the other hand the combat system was clumsy. This is mostly because of the camera angle, but often I got hit by my enemies simply because I couldn't see them. AC: Brotherhood and AC: Revelations really shined in their combat system that gave it all a smooth sense, but both ACIII and AC;BF somehow messed it up. I feel that the game developers were perhaps trying to go a bit too far in creating a smooth system?
Graphics: this is lazy work. It's essentially ACIII with a different paint job unto it. I understand that this game explored further into the Kenway line, but even then I had hoped they might've improved the graphics a little bit. It's clear they copy pasted it, but maybe that's for the best considering it gave them more time to focus on the rest.
Economy: now this is where the game truly shined for me. Arr matey, ye get enough booty to be a pirate! Plundering ships or seeking treasures, you got just enough gold to want to continue plundering and exploring. And there were so many different ways to spend that money. Upgrade your ship, your pirate cove or just Kenway himself. I always felt myself in need of more cash and because of that feeling I kept exploring and doing side-quests, of which there are a lot. This is also one of the few games where I didn't use the fast travel option a lot. It was really worth it to sail from one place to the other, because that way you could get money from the merchant ships along the way. And even the notoriety system worked very well. Getting notorious in this game meant that hunter ships will come after you to bring you to justice. But the thing is, those ships carry booty and quite a bit of it, essentially at the start of the game. It was actually worth it to get into trouble in this game, as it gave a mixed blessing: ships that bother you, but who carry some booty matey.
So on the whole I definitely enjoyed this game. There were some problems, essentially plot and combat wise, but I felt that it has redeemed the entire series after the blunder that is ACIII. I would give it a 7/10 and recommend it to everyone to play. It's fun, there's a lot of content and you'll be enjoying most of it!
Listening to: The sounds of the world.
Reading: The words of men.
Watching: The images before my eyes.
Playing: with questions