THIS is what ACIII should have been. A colorful, interesting protagonist, a twist to the usual formula, a fleshed out world, and a great story of adventure and personal growth.
I know I've already sung ACIV's praises from the mountaintops last week, but after I broke down even further and beat the main game (something I swore I would wait til next week for), I just needed to write this down and get out even more of them.
THIS is the best Assassin's Creed game since the second one. And I'm gonna tell you the best parts and the worst parts. Mostly because I have no work to do at the moment and am quite bored.
The Leading Man - Edward Kenway
Let's get this out of the way right off the bat. Edward is leagues and leagues better than his grandson Connor in almost every imaginable way. As soon as you are introduced to him, you are interested in him. You like him and want to know where his story goes. As the story progresses we see him grow from the selfish, headstrong, cocky pirate to a man willing to believe in and act for a cause greater then himself, usually helped along with a sharp comeback from his badass quartermaster Adéwalé. Unlike Connor who only SUDDENLY learns it in the last 5 seconds of what is essentially post-game. If they make another game with Edward (unlikely, but it could fit), I will love to play it. If not, I am very happy with how his story played out here.
Named after the scavenging and opportunistic bird of the same name, the Jackdaw is almost a second main character. You will spend perhaps 3/4 of the game sailing her. Like I said last week, the Jackdaw and the pirating you do on it are the highlights of the game. Naval battles are fun and even exhilarating if you haven't been keeping your wanted level low. Using the Jackdaw you'll attack ships and take their cargo to sell and materials like metal, cloth, and wood so you can upgrade the jackdaw with stronger hulls, more broadside cannons, more powerful cannon balls, etc. After taking the cargo, you'll need to decide what to do with the ship. You'll have 3 choices 1) you can scuttle the ship and use the parts to make repairs to the Jackdaw, 2) you'll let the ship and the crew go to lower your wanted level, or 3) you'll take the ship and add it to your fleet.
Battles are quick and can be deadly if your ship isn't kept upgraded, but do leave plenty of room for strategy if you're taking on tougher ships. My butt has been saved multiple times in multi-ship encounters by maneuvering myself and using the smaller ships as shields against a bigger ships broadside cannons and heavy shot. And it is very satisfying to lead an enemy ship into the path of a nearby tidal wave or hurricane.
The Jackdaw can also be customized with different types of sails, figureheads, and you can even change the wheel. Cosmetic changes, yes, but they are usually cheap and it's fun to do. My Jackdaw had blood red sails with a phoenix figurehead. I would have liked a few more customizing options, but I'm happy with it.
While you do unlock fast travel points when you travel to a new island or defeat a fort, I found myself hardly using them for about 3/4 of the game. It's an actual joy to sail around the world and just see what you can find on the way to your destination. That being said the fast travel is very useful when you get to those "I WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!" portions of the main story. Yes, this game actually has moments like that.
They are simply fantastic, even on the PS3. The only (big) problem is that in the bigger cities the frame-rate gets a little choppy. I can only imagine what it'll look like on the PS4.
While the game isn't exactly Dark Souls, it's leaps above ACIII. You can still chain kill (which I know is everyone's major hangup) but honestly, don't expect the AI to just wait for you. They will attack any opening they see and they will kick you while you're down (literally). You need to work on your timing if you ever want to get more then 3 chain kills before they kick you out of one. Especially with special enemy types being much more common and having strategies all their own.
This isn't to say they are perfect. When sneaking around they do seem to spot you quickly enough, but if you head in to cover they'll come over to investigate, usually one at a time. It's a little sad that this is actually the best way to stealthily kill large groups of enemies quickly. Go out of cover, let one see you, head back to cover, kill, repeat. Guards apparently aren't curious when there buds never come back after checking out a suspicious person wandering around.
But still, better then ACIII or Revelations.
The Modern Day
This contains minor spoilers for the modern day segment. Basically the who,what, and where.
I, unlike many other fans, am very interested in the modern day parts of the AC story. using this the game keeps the Sci-Fi nerd in me happy at the same time it keeps the history buff in me happy. In an effort to appease both types of fans, though, Ubisoft tries to keep you outside the animus for the least amount of time, while still having the story move forward. And it works. To an extent. The new modern day protagonist is a silent worker at Abstergo Entertainment, who dives in to Edward Kenway's memories to, get this, make a movie out of his life.
Yes, Abstergo has gone public with the Animus technology to make movies about the Assassin/Templar conflict. I don't know if that's stupidly brilliant or just plain stupid. Aveline from Liberation was apparently the first one, using an edited version of events where Aveline betrays and destroys the Assassin's in New Orleans and joins her step mother as a Templar. It was apparently quite successful (Maybe Hollywood could take some tips?)
Modern day is all about hacking computers to get information. The type of information you acquire varies from important stuff like audio logs and medical reports to silly stuff like portraits of past protagonists and even assessment reports on how likely movies about Altair, Ezio, and Connor would do at the box office.
Of course the game only requires you to hack 3 of the 33 computers to move the story along before you can go back to the Animus. I would be okay with that, if hacking the other computers gave you something. Yeah, no extra scene or something to reward us for doing all 30 extra computers. I am disappoint.
We do see Shawn and Rebecca from the last game, but they're really nothing more then a glorified cameo.
Overall, it's good, but I hope for more next time. You still have fans of the modern day story too, Ubi!
We meet many of the most famous figures of the Golden Age of Piracy, including Edward Teach, Mary Read, Bartholomew Roberts, Anne Bonney and a few others. They are all portrayed wonderfully and we do go along for many of the famous tales they were involved in (like Blackbeard's (Teach's) blockade of Charleston, South Carolina).
Unfortunately, unlike the past games, Edward is already friends/acquaintances with many of them from before we start playing as him so we hardly see them or grow attached to them ourselves over the course of the story.
Sadly, the game does have it's bad parts too.
Far too many pursue missions
maybe 40% of the missions in the game require you to follow your target, or eavesdrop on their conversations. I normally love these types of missions bu there are TOO. DAMN. MANY! Even on a ship you don't get away from them.
Lack of Weapon Choices
You only get 2 choices for a main weapon. Your cutlasses or your hidden blades. No axes or daggers or heavy weapons. And many standard secondary weapons like the throwing knife are gone completely. You have pistols, the Rope Dart, or a blowpipe.
Of the Cutlasses and Pistols, you can only buy 5 different sets in game (the rest are DLC). And they are expensive. My recommendation? save up to buy the best gun set, and then just focus money on the Jackdaw.
This one's a personal complaint, one that has nothing to do with the system itself. Harpooning isn't much fun for me. It looks absolutely horrible. And with as many people as you kill over the course of the game, I know I'm a huge hypocrite when I say that. The way they portray it is realistic. Extremely realistic. When you've finally harpooned the shark/whale enough (and it can sometimes take almost 20 harpoons), the minigame is over and you see it hauled up on to the ship. As it's hanging out of the water, you see all the injuries it took and blood is just rolling off it into the sea in buckets. It's disturbed me utterly the first time I did it. I only did it enough to get all my upgrades and then I didn't do it again.
And there's my impression of Assassin's Creed 4. Even with having beat it already, I still can't wait to start the adventure again next week.
.....Wow, this was a lot longer then I thought it was going to be. Haven't done something like this since the Pokemon Gen 6 overview thing. This is why I shouldn't be allowed to have free time. Oh well, I'm sure it's not written very well, but hope you guys enjoyed it.