I Was Done With Assassin's Creed...And Then Came Black Flag - irwin529 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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I Was Done With Assassin's Creed...And Then Came Black Flag

I've been a fan of Assassin's Creed since day 1 of the first game's release. It was the first open world game I truly enjoyed in the last generation of consoles. Sure it got a bit repetitive, but the stealth based gameplay and story dealing with conspiracy both in the past and future kept me hooked. Then came Assassin's Creed II, which pretty much blew the first game out of the water. It did everything right; gameplay, mission variety, beautiful city, story. Best of all, it introduced us to Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a character who went on to become my favorite video game character of all time. The whole Ezio trilogy is my favorite part of the franchise.

When Assassin's Creed III was announced and graced the cover of Game Informer, I was beyond excited for it. I simply couldn't wait to get my hands on it. The franchise was coming home (no pun intended) with it being set in Colonial America. Adding to my excitement was that it was set during the American Revolution, a part of history I'm well educated in, something I couldn't say about the previous settings. So imagine my surprise when I ended up very disappointed in this entry.

First off was the slow start. The first 2 hours or so felt like a long tutorial. Too much hand holding. Maybe it was just that I'm impatient, but I was eager to be let free into this world. I wanted to explore. The saving grace for this segment was Haytham Kenway. He was an interesting character to play as, and I was surprised to see he was actually the bad guy.

The next part of my disappointment came from the main character, Connor. I thought he would be an interesting character to play as given his Native American heritage, but that couldn't be further from the truth. He felt too stoic and I became uninterested in his journey towards the end. I was actually wishing I could play as Haytham again.

The final part where this game disappointed me was also my biggest gripe with it; the setting. I've come to associate Assassin's Creed games more with the city it is set in more than anything else. When I think of AC II, the first thing that comes to mind is how beautiful cities like Florence and Venice were. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about AC III's Boston and New York. These cities just felt bland and boring. It was also difficult to free run on the rooftops with too much gaps in between buildings. The Assassin's Creed developers depict each city the way they were during that time frame, so it's understandable why New York and Boston felt that way. After all, those cities are nothing like cities in Italy were at the time. Which probably shows why the American Revolution was a poor choice for a setting.

I had other gripes with AC III, like the various bugs the game shipped with and the present day story going completely off the rails. It also made me realize how burnt out I was with this franchise. I play each new Call of Duty every year and I never felt burnt out with it as I did with Assassin's Creed. So I couldn't care less when Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was announced. Even though I knew it would revolve around the naval battles I enjoyed oh so much in AC III. Scrolling through video game websites, anytime I saw a headline with AC in the title I would just scroll right past it. I actually took a bathroom break during Sony's E3 conference when AC showed up. I had no interest in revisiting AC's world anytime soon.

About 2 months ago I was eager to play a new game. Scrolling through Amazon I came across Black Flag. I decided I should stop avoiding this game and actually read up some info about it. After reading some reviews and watching YouTube videos, I gave in and bought it. And thank God I did. It's like the developers took everything I disliked about AC III and turned it around. Slow pace? They gave me my own ship and set me free within the first hour. Boring character? I actually liked Edward Kenway. He didn't hide the fact that he was only in it for the money. Bland setting? Black Flag's cities were colorful and filled with life. They were smaller yes, but the trade off was the vast ocean that you can explore for hours on end while your crew sing sea shanties.

Black Flag actually made me excited for Assassin's Creed again, and only a year after I decided I was done! Now we got the next entry in the series, Assassin's Creed Unity, coming this year and I am eager to see more. Being set in France during the French Revolution feels like we'll be going back to the beautiful cities of AC II and Brotherhood. The brief teaser video Ubisoft released certainly feels that way. The naval exploration I loved so much likely won't be back, but I'm okay with that.