By THOMAS HUGHES
Last October saw the release of “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag,” the sixth installment in a series that revolves around the fictional concept of genetic memory, in which a person can access his or her ancestors’ memories with the aid of technology. “Black Flag” features a pirate main character and the ability to sail across the Caribbean Sea.
Using the concept of this genetic technology, the series focuses on a fictional ancient conflict between the Knights Templar, which seeks to bring peace to the world through order, and the Assassins, who believe forced peace is not peace at all. Both organizations use a machine called an animus to search for clues in the past in order to put an end to the conflict once and for all.
“Black Flag” takes place during the Golden Age of Piracy in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when pirates ran rampant in the Caribbean Sea. The story follows the journey of Edward Kenway, an aspiring privateer from Wales who turns to piracy in order to fulfill his desire for wealth. After a fierce sea battle with an assassin named Duncan Walpole, Edward is unknowingly thrown into the conflict between Templars and Assassins, and he struggles to reconcile his personal greed with his desire to further the greater good.
A huge departure from previous installments, “Black Flag” features an open world that spans the entire Caribbean Sea. Players are free to sail wherever they desire at any point to complete side missions, search for collectible items and attack and board ships to gain supplies and gold. These supplies can be used to upgrade the player’s ship, such as reinforcing the hull or adding cannons for more damaging attacks. However, the more ships a player attacks, the more notoriety they will gain, which attracts the attention of pirate hunters. Players can lose notoriety by bribing officials in towns or on ships.
Aside from these new additions, much of what makes the previous installments successful, such as the combat system and focus on stealth, is still present and are comfortable and easy to use for veteran and new players alike. The game also features a multiplayer mode, in which players must assassinate a target while avoiding similar attacks.
“Black Flag” adds a new spin on the series and keeps the concept both fresh and entertaining. The open world and freedom that comes with it provides a large variety of options, and one never feels as if they are forced to complete a portion of gameplay that they don’t want to.
The tie-in with historical pirates and locations continues what the series does well: adding authenticity to an entertaining story that appeals to both history buffs and the average gamer. Overall, “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” does not disappoint, and delivers an authentic and entertaining pirate experience.
“Black Flag” is available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation 4 and will soon be available on Microsoft Windows, Xbox One and Wii U.