Let's face it - Assassin's Creed isn't what it used to be. The original Assassin's Creed games were quite amazing and almost revolutionary, but over the years, the franchise has worsened, and Assassin's Creed 3's poor reviews truly show for it. However, with a very different protagonist, a beautiful and expansive open-world, and new gameplay opportunities, Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag has quite possibly revived the franchise.
AC4 takes place during the Golden Age of Piracy, and it follows the story of Edward Kenway, who is the grandfather of the main protagonist of Assassin's Creed 3, Connor. Kenway starts off as a poor man living with his significant other, Caroline. Edward wants to become a privateer to life easier for Caroline and him, but this would mean that Edward would end up being far from home and far from Caroline often. Caroline and Caroline's father do not like this decision of Kenway, and Caroline somewhat separates from Edward. Edward still decides to become a privateer, and so he does, but while on board, the ship that he works on meets its tragic demise. Luckily, Edward survives, and he later comes across an Assassin who is looking to become a Templar. Edward kills this Templar-turned-Assassin, named Duncan. Edward then meets with the Templars that Duncan had been planning to meet with, while pretending to be Duncan. It is with these Templars that Edward learns of The Observatory, a location which holds an artifact that will allow you to view what specific people are doing (stalkish, much?). Edward soon gets found out, and he is thrown onto a ship where he meets a slave named Odewale. Edward escapes this ship with Odewale, and Edward captures and becomes captain of a ship which he names, "The Jackdaw". Odewale becomes Edward's quartermaster. Now, from here, Edward makes it his goal to find The Observatory before the Templars. Along the way, Edward makes his friends such as Mary Read, Odewale, Rackham, Blackbeard, etc. help him find The Observatory. Because of this, most of them end up dying. Realizing how selfish he has been all along, Edward decides to stop the Templars from using The Observatory and then give up his life as a pirate. Edward started out as a selfish, womanizing, drunken pirate, but ended up as a kind, wise, helpful father. This journey from arrogant to humble was very enjoyable. Overall, Assassin Creed 4's story was great.
Now that I've finished talking about the story of the game, let's talk gameplay. The game's combat system is great, allowing for great fun during combat and while being stealthy. There's also an improved naval combat system, which doesn't make me want to kill myself every time a ship attacks me (*coughcoughAC3coughcough*). But apart from attacking ships, stealth kills and aerial assassinations, the game also features a huge open-world that almost makes GTA V's world look puny (Luckily, you're allowed to fast-travel around this massive world). Seriously, the amount of things you can do in this giant world is incredible - you can complete Templar Contracts, board ships, explore, find Mayan Stelae, find buried treasure chests, complete Assassin Contracts, upgrade the Jackdaw, capture forts, hunt and harpoon animals, craft and find weapons and outfits, and even more. All of these activities caused me to consistently play the game, even after finishing the story. However, not all of these activities are always enjoyable. Fully upgrading the Jackdaw was a hard, tedious, unenjoyable job, and it even sucked me into buying one of the game's microtransactions (which made me wonder if the devs made certain aspects of the game so hard that it would force players to buy the microtransactions, but that's just a conspiracy of mine). You may be wondering why I wanted to fully upgrade the Jackdaw in the first place, and it's because I wanted to be able to defeat the 4 Legendary Ships, which was even more annoying. Another very annoying part of the game was Tailing Missions, which were included in Story Missions and Templar Contracts. Tailing required you to follow and eventually eavesdrop on targets, but these missions seemed unnecessary and were extremely frustrating. Despite these few nuisances, the game felt great, and it (surprisingly) rarely felt repetitive. Plus, an awesome soundtrack and beautiful graphics accompanied the game's great gameplay, although I would encounter a few minor graphical glitches now and then. Either way, the game's amazing gameplay really gives the AC franchise new hope.
Great story, great gameplay, great graphics - there's got to be a catch, right? Right you are, and that catch is a poor multiplayer. The multiplayer hasn't changed a bit, which caused me to wonder if the devs were even trying when creating the multiplayer of AC4. I'm probably not the only one who thinks this, because I could barely find anyone who was actually playing multiplayer. I was only able to play two gamemodes because of this. So, AC4 can co down in history as another one of those games that really never needed multiplayer.
Overall, Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag goes down as one of my favorite games of 2013, thanks to its graphics, soundtrack, activities, story, and open-world. The only things that hold it back from being perfect are the minor annoyances and unnecessary multiplayer. But otherwise, AC4 has given a new name to the AC franchise.
Thanks for reading my review. It's one of my first reviews, so go easy on me, but I'm always open to creative criticism.