written by Blain Newport on Tuesday, 7 October 2014
Black Flag (4 of 5)
I feel a little guilty giving Black Flag a 4 of 5, so let me just say I'm very glad Ubisoft was willing to take such a big risk making a pirate game with such a large budget. I'm sure the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies made this game possible, but it was still bold. Age of sail gaming is such a niche genre I haven't touched it since the remake of Sid Meier's Pirates!, which came out ten years ago. And the sailing was my favorite part of Black Flag.
For one thing, it's gorgeous.
I mean really gorgeous. They have light coming through the sails with the other sails casting shadows. My video card was working hard. I could hear the fans revving up. But it was for a good cause.
Here we see some of the tall ships of England and Spain in conflict. I loved big fights like these because I could usually pick off weakened ships at the edges.
And here is the craziest thing that happened during my play-through. I attacked an island fortress (I think I may have been chased there by enemy ships.) in the middle of a giant storm with multiple waterspouts. Trying to keep speed so the fortress couldn't get a bead on me while avoiding the waterspouts and firing volleys as I rolled up and down the huge swells was wonderful madness.
I did find the story missions (especially the instant fail stealth parts) the weakest part of the game, but I didn't dislike them as much as others. I haven't played an AC game since AC2, so I'm probably less annoyed with the persistent problems (scripts that don't fire, forcing reloads and deaths due to bugs) than people who've been enduring them all along.
My review scores are largely based on whether I think the experience was worth my time, with the highest score reserved for games I'd love to play again. Ubisoft games have so many collectibles that staring over from scratch is usually too daunting for me to be enthusiastic about it. But with AC4, I'd consider it.