In the present world, this game takes place after the events of Assassin's Creed III. You, as a research analyst is employed in a project called Sample 17, and is tasked to relieve the memories of Desmond Mile's ancestor for Abstergo Entertainment's product.
In the relieved memory of Edward Kenway, his life events took place before Haytham Kenway's and Ratonhnhake:ton's stories, as Edward is the father of Haytham and the grandfather of Ratonhnhake:ton. Edward Kenway was a pirate, who wanted to find enough fortune to provide for his wife. Unfortunately, circumstances happened to both of them, and Edward was entangled in a war between two factions, which are Assassins and Templars.
I prefer Edward than his descendant, Connor a.k.a Ratonhnhake:ton due to his much more likable personality and story exposition. The pirates in the game are also memorable with their dialogues and personalities, such as Edward Thatch and Mary Reed. The same goes to the Assassins and the Templars.
The present storyline is short and weakly developed, but fills enough holes to contain average players. What actually attracts me in this game is the story of Edward Kenway, with his journey as a pirate that was filled with death, greed, regrets, but also with hope and redemption. The ending in this game is particularly touching, which I dare not spoil to any story purists.
i) Singleplayer Mode
a) Progression, Upgrading and Economy Section
In this game, the game's map encompasses entire Caribbean Sea, which is extremely large. Islands, towns, and ruins are separated with seas where you can freely explore and sail. Many of the game's destinations require you to sail, but once you have reached the destinations, you can use Fast Travel to backtrack any locations to collect any collectibles that you have missed, or complete side activities such Assassin Contracts. As you are sailing with your ship, you may choose to fight enemy ships for extra loot, or simply ignore them. In some areas, some of it may be restricted and may cause enemy ships to be wary and hostile towards you.
The game's progression is fairly linear, as you can complete Memories (a.k.a Missions) in the game a bit more freely. You may also complete Optional Objectives in the game to achieve 100% Synchronisation. Mission objectives include assassinating a target, eavesdropping a conversation, tailing a target, and others.
There are many Sequences (a.k.a Chapters) in the game, but you can also explore other parts in the game to find additional items or complete side activities.
Upgrading is simple in this game. For example, if you want to upgrade Edward's health, you need to collect and use two same types of animal loot, such as white jaguar pelts or crocodile skins. Animals can be hunted on most settlemants and islands, or you can also harpoon sea animals such as sharks and whales. In comparison to ground hunting, hunting animals on sea is slightly difficult as you have to use a harpoon to hunt them while riding a rowboat. You may also purchase new sword sets and pistol sets by spending Reales (in-game currency), as well as ammunition. Not only you can upgrade Edward, but you can also upgrade the Jackdaw's (your ship) weapons, armour, and others.
Money can be found by opening trasure chests or looting animals. However, that may be enough as many upgrades such as Jackdaw's upgrades are incredibly expensive. The fastest way to get money is by looting enemy ships. Enemy ships may have materials such as sugar and rum that can be sold for high value, whereas materials like cloth, wood, and metal can be used to upgrade the Jackdaw. You may also sell animal parts for extra money as well.
b) Combat and Travelling Section
The game's combat use similar combat system in Assassin's Creed III, but is slightly more refined as enemies are slightly more aggressive than the third game. I like the game's combat system a lot, until to the point where I purposely attack an enemy and fight groups of them with chain kills. You may attack enemies with your swords, hidden blades, or tools like your pistols. You may also counter enemy attacks with a counter kill, throw, or disarm. Enemy comes with different types, such as Brutes who can only be killed by breaking his defenses and instant kill him, and Captains who can only be killed after parrying his attacks or by pistol shots.
Stealth sections in this game play similarly to previous games, where enemies may detect you for doing suspicious acts or wandering around restricted areas. You can kill them to avoid nuisance by distraction, or just get past them by blending with the crowds or bushes. Assassination techniques such as double running assassination or double air assassination are still usable in this game.
Naval combat is fully fleshed in this game, where you can board enemy ships to obtain full amount of materials loot. Once you have boarded a ship, you have three options. You may repair the Jackdaw, lower your Wanted level, or send it to your fleet for an online side mission. Regardless, depending on different situations, you may want to choose to repair your ship when you are fighting multiple ships at the same time. If you sink a ship before boarding it, you will only gain half amount of materials compared to boarding it.
To successfully board a ship, you need a substantial amount of crew to fight off enemies. Once you are boarding a ship, you need to kill a certain amount of enemies and other objectives to fully board the ship to obtain full rewards. The bigger the ship is, the more tougher it is, and the more rewards it has. Crew can be recruited from Tavarns or saving them from enemies.
Jackdaw has access to a number of weapons, like fire barrels, broadside cannons, mortars, and others. You may use these weapons to damage ships enough. Each weapon can be upgraded so that you have better advantage against enemy ships in later Sequences. It is highly recommended to do so, as you may not have strong enough ship to battle against bigger ships such as Man O' War ships. You may also ram against ships to deal damage against it, or use swivels to attack the ship's weak points. Unlike ground combat, naval combat is personally more tougher as larger and tougher ships can overwhelm you easily if you are not propely upgraded.
c) Other Activities Section
Aside from the game's main Sequences, you may choose to explore the game and complete side missions or collect collectibles. Side missions include Templar Hunts, Assassin Contracts, and Naval Contracts. Templar Hunts are short series of missions which require you to help a fellow Assassin to fight off Templars. Assassin Contracts require you to kill off targets at specific places. Naval Contracts include missions such as giving loot to the recipient, sinking certain ships or escort a ship.
Collectibles in this game include treasure chests, shanties, Animus Fragments, Mayan stones, and secret letters in bottles. You may find them scattered in many places in the game. Some trasure chests can only be found underwater, where you can start the search at certain coves or ship wrecks.
ii) Multiplayer Section
In my opinion, the biggest replay value would have to be the Multiplayer mode. You will use a Templar to assassinate another Templar, and you have your own level. You must choose a PERSONA as your playable character in a Match, such as The Doctor, The Nobleman, The Engineer, and many more. Although they have different appearances, the gameplay is similar, as your own set of ABILITIES will define your PERSONA's skills.
There are few different matches, such as Wanted, Manhunt, Alliance, Artifact Assault and other matches. I will briefly explain the Wanted match, as it acts as the basis for other matches.
The objective for Wanted match is simple. You need to assassinate your target before others reach him/her. However, you yourself are hunted by another Templar(s), so watch out. However, there is a catch of finding your TARGET. There are many other different PERSONAS in the Map you play, and a lot of them are the same as your TARGET or yourself, so be careful. However, you have your own Detection Compass, which is useful to detect your TARGET. It is a bluish ring, which will shape a full circle if your TARGET is nearby, and vice versa if your TARGET is far away. Use this Compass to find your TARGETS effectively and efficiently.
You also have a Detection Meter. At first, it will be INCOGNITO. If you run towards to your TARGET, it will be SILENT and then it will be DISCREET. If the Detection Meter breaks, a Chase sequence will play and you have to chase and kill your TARGET ASAP before he/she runs away or hide from you. INCOGNITO rewards you the most bonus points, secondly SILENT, and finally DISCREET.
You will gain POINTS when you kill your TARGET, or escaping your pursuers. There are few ways to gain POINTS, such as:
1. Kill your TARGET while in INCOGNITO, SILENT, or DISCREET status.
2. Kill your TARGET with POISON or GUN.
3. ESCAPE from your PURSUERS when the ESCAPE gauge empties.
4. HIDE with your online teammates from your PURSUERS.
5. Kill your TARGET while in BLENDING with a GROUP to gain a HIDDEN bonus.
Make sure you kill the right guy. If not, you will lose the TARGET, and will get another TARGET. Your PURSUERS can easily identify you as their TARGET if you kill someone or run, so watch out.
There are various ways to get BONUS, such as POISON, STUN, etc. Kill your TARGETS with efficiency to get high POINTS as much as possible, and try to HIDE to avoid your PURSUERS.
You will start as Level 1, and you need to earn the POINTS that you earn in Matches to advance into the next Level. For example, if you earn 4000 POINTS in Wanted Match, that will go to your own Experience points. Take note however, if you only earn 100 POINTS in a Match, that will still count as your EXP. You reap what you sow, I guess. After getting high enough level, you will proceed into the Prestige levels, allowing you to craft more powerful abilities in the game.
By advancing more Levels, you can acquire new ABILITIES to use during Matches. There are several types of ABILITIES, which are:
1. Abilities - Immediate use, such as SMOKE BOMB. Has a cooldown timer after using it.
2. Perks - Acts as passive skills.
3. Streak Bonuses - Activates when you kill your TARGETS in a row or losing in a row.
Each ABILITIES have their own pros and cons, and it is up to you to mix and match with proper setup. You can set 2 Abilities, 2 Perks, and 2 Streak Bonuses for a PROFILE. You can obtain up to 5 PROFILES, adding more of your own strategy. Use the correct PROFILE when attempting a Match.
The Multiplayer mode is one of the best multiplayer mode I have ever played. It is rather different than other multiplayer games, and it is rather addicting to play it.
Standard matches include Wanted, Deathmatch, Assassination, Manhunt and Domination. Experience points are gained by scoring points via assassinating targets in matches or completing Challenges. Wolfpack mode is also present in the game, where you can work solo or together with other players to complete as many Sequences as possible.
Like previous games, the multiplayer mode is already good enough, but with not much additions to make it greater or inferior than the previous games' multiplayer modes. It is already good on it's own as one of the best multiplayer modes. PS3 users be aware that connection issues still persist in this game.
The gameplay is simply more refined than the third game, with substantial improvements on naval combat and exploration. Although present-day exploration and progression are slightly boring, Edward Kenway's campaign simply makes up for the shortcomings of the present day's story and gameplay. However, some players may feel the game feels too similar with previous Assassin's Creed games, and the multiplayer mode is also only slightly tweaked to appeal hardcore fans. However, I personally think this game is still a great package with solid singleplayer and multiplayer modes, despite some issues.
Needless to say, this game sports incredible graphics, fairly surpasses it's predecessor graphics. The sea and water in the game are beautifully animated, incredible environment designs, great looking characters, and others. Once you have the option to dive underwater as you progress in the game, you will be marveled with the game's incredible underwater graphics.
Unlike Assassin's Creed III, this game does not have much bugs and glitches that may impede the game much. Performance is much more smoother, with more fluid battle and running animations in the game. Bugs and glitches are still present, but difficult to notice.
I like the game's soundtrack, which it represented the pirates themes and era's theme in the game perfectly. The sea shanties are also worth mentioning, as it is very addicting to listen while sailing in the seas.
Voice acting is great, with fitting voice actors that give great performances, such as Matt Ryan as Edward Kenway, Mark Bonnar as Edward Thatch, and others. I have to commend Ubisoft for finding the proper voice actors to voice their characters with passion.
After finishing the game, you may attempt to unlock and complete any Side Missions, collect every collectibles, and complete challenges. Also, you may also play the game's incredibly addicting multiplayer mode, where you can fight against players online or work together with them in different types of matches.
If you have the PS3, PS4 or PC version, you may attempt the Aveline DLC for extra gameplay time. It is short with only three missions, but it is still bonus content.
In conclusion, I personally feel that this is the best game since Assassin's Creed II. Fairly different in a way with great naval combat, interesting storyline, great graphics, good music, great characters, good combat, and good multiplayer mode. However, it does have some issues like boring present-day exploration and progression, bugs and glitches, lack of multiplayer mode additions, and some repetition or staleness when playing the same type of game all over again. Regardless, this is a great game, and one of the best games in 2013.
Final Score: 36/40 or 9.0/10.0
Pros and Cons
- Great story of Edward Kenway.
- Many good characters like Edward, James Kidd, Blackbeard, and others.
- Great combat.
- Large exploration for both ground and sea areas.
- Addicting and improved naval combat and exploration.
- Lots of contents.
- Astounding graphics.
- Great soundtrack.
- Great replay value.
- Addicting and good multiplayer mode.
- Boring present-storyline exploration and progression.
- Multiplayer mode lacks substantial innovations.
- Some bugs and glitches.
- Possibility of being repetitive and stale after playing so many Assassin's Creed games.