Tag Archives: Assassin’s Creed

Assassins Creed: Syndicate Review

After last year’s entry Unity was derided for its glitch-laden launch, can a romp through Victorian London help put this much-loved series back where it belongs?

It has been a while but at last I’m back. Firstly you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce by the title of this review that I’m finally in possession of a current gen console meaning I’m no longer woefully behind the times. Anyway enough of this introduction, lets jump to it.

It’s Assassins Creed, But Not As We Know It

I don’t consider myself an AC veteran, but I’m not exactly new to the party, I’ve played to completion AC: IV Black Flag and I’ve watched a great deal of AC 2 gameplay. The point is I’d like to think I know what to expect with the series. So imagine my surprise when I repeatedly came across elements and systems that one would normally find in RPGs, AC is supposed to be action-stealth what is happening? To elaborate, completing actions and missions within Syndicate earns you XP which you then spend on different skills which in turn allow you to level up. Furthermore there’s even a crafting system, with materials to be found in chests spread around the game. Now I won’t lie my first response to this was the rather standard, what is this doing in this sort of game? However as I progressed I became more of a fan of these elements, it gave the game as a whole more depth allowing you to tweak your character’s skills to suit your style. In addition it gave some incentive to do the side missions as they too give XP. Previously this being an element of AC games that many people found tedious and just an example of padding a game. Now I’m not saying it’ll make you want to collect every chest in the game but nonetheless a step in the right direction.

Two Can Play At That Game

In a first for the series, there is now two playable characters (there’s actually a third but I won’t spoil that here). Throughout the game you follow twin brother and sister Jacob and Evie Frye. Yes you read that correctly an AC game with a female protagonist. Now this is a bigger step forward than it seems, players have often wanted a female assassin and Ubisoft have seemingly dodged the issue. They then made things a hundred times worse by saying the reason there was no female protagonist in Unity, was that female characters are too complex to animate and implement in the game. This response wasn’t met well with many experts pointing out that what Ubisoft said wasn’t strictly true as any female character would likely share animations with their male counterpart. Anyway learning the error of their ways Ubisoft created Evie, however they haven’t wholly solved the problem. While one can explore the overworld as whichever character they like, however when it comes to story missions in only around a quarter of them can you actually play as Evie in the rest you have to play as Jacob. While this is a step forward of sorts, I feel Ubisoft rather missed a trick by underusing Evie as she is one of the better AC protagonists of recent years. In many of the games the protagonist is driven by an immensely clichéd idea, such as the Batman-esque ‘avenging the death of their family’ seen in AC 2 and Unity. Or even Edward Kenway in Black Flag whose core motivation is seemingly money. Jacob seemingly does fall into this trap as he is seemingly motivated by the death of his father, a fact which the game feels it must remind us every 5 minutes. Whereas Evie possesses a touch more depth being presented as an academic of sorts who still wishes to stop the Templars but with a more measured approached compared to her more reckless brother. The game very much acknowledges this fact, which Jacob being more geared to combat, while Evie is more stealthy, it goes as to far as to limit some of the later available skills to just one of the characters. In an ideal world it would have been nice to give the player complete freedom on how to set up and upgrade each character, but at the very least it means there are two styles of approach to master.

London Bridge is Burning Down

As previously mentioned this entry in the series takes place in London in the mid to late 1800s, otherwise known as the Victorian era. Now this could be down to a combination of my love of this time period and it being my first experience of current gen graphics. But as cliché as it sounds it felt like Ubisoft had created a city that truly felt alive and busy, the streets packed with people and horse drawn carriages. The attention to detail is somewhat breath-taking, I was taken aback while scaling Big Ben at just how accurate it seemed. A staple of the AC series that returns in Syndicate is the presence of virtual versions of real life figures. However instead of them acting as the villain of the story, the likes of Charles Dickens and Karl Marx are there just to give side missions, although Queen Victorian and others do appear in the story itself. There is actually a reason for this, Ubisoft explained they were reluctant to place a real life figure as the villain as the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these figures are still alive today and did not wish to cause offence. Thus in their place the villain is played by the entirely fictional Templar, Crawford Starrick. The quality of the world was another motivating factor in my desire to actually go and explore and complete side missions in much the way Black Flag did. The size and scale of Victorian London compared to previously explored areas in AC led Ubisoft to introduce a new item and mechanic into the game, a rope launcher. In essence a grappling hook that also acts as a zip line allowing you to quickly scale up and across buildings and reach your targets. Now when this concept was first revealed many people weren’t happy, arguing that the parkour and climbing was a core part of the AC series which was being removed. This is a perfectly valid argument and in some ways I agree with it. But when you actually start playing you realise it was a very necessary inclusion, due to the scale of the landscape. It gets to a point that if you deliberately attempt to get from A to B by climbing manually it would take so long that you’d get bored and the flow of the game would be gone. In short this inclusion hasn’t ruined a key part of the game as many feared it would, there are still countless opportunities to climb and it’s still very enjoyable.

Tell Me A Story

After this many entries in the series I think it’s safe to assume you aren’t playing AC for its story. They are broadly similar, you’re target is a senior Templar but you must get through their lieutenants first. Within that will be a sub-plot involving the mythical Pieces of Eden. In addition you have the modern day elements, there is a general consensus that these have always been a weak element since the end of the Desmond Myles arc in AC. Syndicate doesn’t offer anything great in this area, but thankfully they are just brief and infrequent cut scenes as opposed to the tedious walking around Abstergo seen in Black Flag. Moving on to the story missions, as with most AC games they aren’t massively varied the likes of tail then assassinate or steal this item. There are a few that attempt to use some of the new features such as escort missions involving the horse drawn carriages. One big plus in this area is that the terrible eavesdropping missions that I remember from Black Flag have been done away with, which get a major thumbs up from me.

If It’s Broke, Fix It.

In the very beginning of this I alluded to the now infamous launch of Unity, which was riddled with glitches and bugs. This ranged from somewhat terrifying but harmless visual glitches where character’s skin wouldn’t appear but their eyes and mouths would, to actually game breaking glitches. Now I would argue it’s unfair to expect a game to be a 100% glitch free simply owing to how complex modern games are, however in the case of Syndicate I felt it needed to be mentioned. If I was writing this review just a couple of days ago, all I would say is that while playing I’ve experienced some visual glitches, like characters getting stuck. In addition to some slightly more frustrating glitches that led me to restart missions, such as one instance where the game believed I had one target left to kill but the target location was in the ground and thus inaccessible. Nothing game breaking just a little annoying, however I am currently at the game’s final mission. When I attempted to finish that mission the game would crash as soon as it tried to boot, now the reason for this actually turned out to be a PSN outage. Yes modern video games are stupid enough that they basically can’t work without an internet connection, but that’s a discussion for another day. So on the day I am writing this I was happy to hear that PSN was back up, the game seemingly booted perfectly but as soon as I attempt to continue my game after a few seconds the whole thing freezes, multiple attempts, no luck. So I’ve been left unable to finish the game currently, I will be watching for any patches in the coming days. You may argue as a reviewer things like glitches shouldn’t weigh too heavily on my opinion of a game, but given that in this case it is currently impossible to finish and give me closure it’s a tough fact to ignore.

Many people have attributed the glitches of recent AC games to the fact Ubisoft now releases a new game every year, fans are now becoming more and more away this seemingly isn’t enough time to develop it and hence we are seeing a drop in overall quality. In the last couple of days it would seem that Ubisoft is conceding this fact. They announced that the next main series AC game, currently titled Empire will not be out until 2017 and specifically sighted the reason for this being so that the game is of the best possible quality. It would appear that Ubisoft has finally realised the way to keep fans loyal to a series is to release a well-made, polished game every few years and not a rushed and broken game year in and year out.

So the question is, where does the AC series stand after Syndicate? Well in all honesty it does little to the core Assassins Creed formula, it is at least a little more than just Unity with a Victorian London skin. If you’re an Assassin’s fan I’d still recommend picking it up as it’s pretty polished with just the odd crack. If you’re new to series, I’d give it a try, even if it is to merely see what current gen consoles can do. Furthermore if like me you don’t consider yourself a huge stealth fan, I always consider AC as being hybrid-stealth. Meaning that you can be stealthy but in most cases being detected isn’t an instant fail, instead you can fight your way out if you’re good enough. Let’s just hope that extra year of polish on Empire will make all the difference.

Syndicate doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s an enjoyable adventure through Victorian London, if you’re an action-stealth fan, you can’t go wrong with this.

SCORE: 75/100

+ Victorian London looks stunning

+ Evie Frye is a great protagonist

+ Side missions finally feel more worthwhile

+ Greater depth thanks to RPG mechanics

-Does little to the core formula

-Story is somewhat bland and unexciting



Red Dead Redemption and Just Cause 2 Review

I bought myself a few new games recently and as some people have said they find my reviews a touch on the long side, this time I’m trying something a little different. So please enjoy some slighter shorter reviews of not just one but two games.

Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption is a game published by makers of the GTA series Rockstar Studios, with Red Dead being the game the team worked on between GTV IV and V. The story is set in the American Old West as you play as John Marston a man betrayed and forced to work for the US government. It is an open world game unsurprisingly reminiscent of the GTA franchise, you’ll even come across a couple of mechanics that would go onto appear in GTV V.

Speaking of mechanics, being set in the Wild West means there’s a few things to get used to, mainly riding a horse. You soon pick it up and but it takes some practice, you can’t just hold down or hammer a button, over work your horse and it’ll throw you off. I approve of Rockstar’s choice to implement a fast travel feature as unlike driving in GTA riding a horse a long distance in Red Dead can become a touch boring.

However one mechanic I’m less happy with is that of the cattle herding, now this is something you have to do about 4-5 times in the entire story, but the problem is the AI for the cows is almost too good, despite you’re best efforts they always wander off. While this was now doubt put it to improve the Wild West feel of the game it never sat well with me as it took longer than it should to complete and somewhat broke the flow of the game. This is certainly an action game, if you go straight to one mission to the next you’ll discover Red Dead to be a fast paced and thrilling adventure.

One of the stand-out features of this game however links back to something I mentioned in my Assassins Creed: Black Flag review: it’s incredibly immersive, when you’re riding around on a horse and stumble across an abandoned town you genuinely start to feel like a bit of a cowboy. Frankly that’s one of the best things a game can do, instead of feeling like you’re disconnected from the world and pressing buttons you actually feel like you’re part of that world.

Now I know some of you might be thinking, this sounds a lot like a GTA game with a Wild West skin placed on top. That’s not the case, the two series are very distinct from one another, Red Dead leans more toward exploration than the ability to cause chaos. Secondly you should remember that both games are made by the same company using the same engine so of course they’ll be a little bit of crossover between the two. If you still think it is the case then I ask you this, is that so bad? Red Dead Redemption is of the same level of quality and polish as a GTA game and yet is just a little bit of something different and I think that’s some good praise for a game to receive.

They may have only strayed a little from their comfort zone but Rockstar have proved they aren’t just a one trick pony, if you’re done with GTA but want a game of a similar standard and gameplay you can jump right into, look no further than Red Dead Redemption.

Score: 70/100

Just Cause 2

In the last few years gaming has been doing it hardest to improve its image in the eyes of the world, giving us games with deep and meaningful stories such as the The Last of Us. Now this is something I completely approve of, however most if not all gamers deep down also have a desire to just have fun and mess around and this is where Just Cause 2 comes in.

The game’ story (if you can call it one) revolves around Rico Rodriguez an agent working for ‘The Agency’ he must travel to the fictional South Eastern Asian island of Panau to overthrow its dictator. That it really about it, but this is not a game you go into for its story, even the developers seem to be aware of this as in the game only the first two missions are compulsory, everything else is entirely optional. Speaking of missions there’s a fair few of them but they aren’t mind-blowing and become repetitive very fast, usually centred around destroy this area or assassinate this person.

Perhaps one of the most interesting mechanics this game has to offer is the combination of the parachute and grappling hook you are equipped with. Not only can the grappling hook be used as both a short and long range weapon, allowing you to yank snipers out of their nests from a distance, a surprisingly satisfying thing. You can also use it to climb buildings and using the parachute as well the hook becomes a slingshot of shorts allowing you a whole new way to travel long distances. Inside these features lies the true heart of this game, something which some games have forgotten: have fun doing crazy things. The ability to tether two objects together allows you to do whatever you want. Can I attach a 4X4 to a 747 yes you can, can I then jump out of the plane and attach myself to the 4X4 in mid-air, YES you actually can.

As someone who’s played and enjoyed GTA V I’d begun to wonder if I’d got everything out of the whole, ‘here’s an open world do what you like’ experience. But I was wrong, fundamentally GTA’s world revolves around the story and its characters whereas Just Cause 2 revolves around causing chaos, that’s even the aim, you need to cause chaos by destroying stuff to unlock later missions. That’s what makes it so enjoyable, like I said I enjoy getting lost in a game’s story but every so often is nice not to be tied down to a story and have freedom to do as you like.

I feel I must mention this game has a few rough edges, it’s one of the most glitchy games I’ve played in a while with a few leading me to have to restart the system and lose progress. The second big rough edge, the driving. With games like these driving is very much not the main point of the game so you’re never going to get Gran Turismo levels of quality. But this is somewhat below my expectations, the steering is almost completely unresponsive at speed and due to some slightly wonky physics hard braking can launch the car into a roll. Admittedly most of the time this makes the game more entertaining, however the few missions where driving is key it does begin to become a greater issue.

Let my end by saying, despite what sounds like an overly negative review, I don’t think this is a bad game it just perhaps lacks the polish of big games like Red Dead Redemption and Tomb Raider. Thankfully as this game is a few years old it can now be picked up used for around a 1/3 its original price, and I think that makes it good value.

It may not be up there with the AAA games in terms of quality, but if you go into Just Cause 2 expecting a fun and crazy world with limitless options, it’ll pay you back a hundred times over.

Score: 53/100


Well that’s that, hopefully my next review will be Batman: Arkham City not sure when that’ll be up so just follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with all my articles. (@AnotherGmgBlog)

Feedback is welcomed concerning the new review format, would you like me to go back to long reviews or do you prefer shorter ones?

Tomb Raider (2013) Review

It’s been a while, but I’m happy to be writing another review. Even before I started playing Tomb Raider there was a lot riding on it, this was my first new game in a while and I was a desperate to find a game to somewhat fill the void left by Uncharted. Did it deliver? Let’s find out.

I shall briefly outline the plot, we find Lara Croft and friends stranded on the mysterious island of Yamatai, an island dominated by storms making escape impossible and forcing Lara to discover its secrets. Perhaps the most significant fact about this game’s narrative is that it is set during a time in which Lara Croft has yet to become the famous Tomb Raider and the player sees her forced to adapt to events of the island and being the journey to becoming that infamous heroine. It is also worth noting a number of people believe this plot could be used if the Tomb Raider film franchise also gets a reboot in future.

I will begin be addressing something of the elephant in the room, a criticism often levelled at this game, is essentially a reskin of Uncharted. The opposite is even true to a point, during its development Uncharted was rather affectionately nicknamed ‘Dude Raider’. Now I’m not going to try and argue that similarities don’t exist between the two games, I’ll admit a few sequences in Tomb Raider got me thinking, this reminds me of Uncharted. The most obvious example being the now almost cliché, walking on a bridge/platform and part of it breaks putting you in danger sequence. However this fact shouldn’t be used to devalue the achievements of Square Enix, the similarities exist as both games sit with the action-adventure genre, which many will argue that Uncharted helped bring back into the spotlight, thus tropes of the genre are almost guaranteed to appear in both series. Want more proof? Recent footage of the upcoming Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End shows for the first time Nathan Drake equipped with a grappling hook, while admittedly not present in the Square Enix iteration the grappling hook has been a long standing feature of the Tomb Raider franchise.

However if you dig a little deeper into Tomb Raider you’ll start to realise there are stark differences compared to Uncharted. First and foremost is the sense of depth of the game as a whole. Don’t get me wrong I love Uncharted but it’s somewhat difficult to argue it as little more as a run and gun platforming game. I feel that the sense of depth comes from the more open and exploratory nature of Tomb Raider versus the somewhat linear progression of Uncharted. If you want to look for them there are albeit not very well hidden ‘secret tombs’ in Tomb Raider not to the extent of previous instalments of the franchise but they’re there. Testament to this is the fact that even with a pretty decent amount of exploring I finished the story with only 61% completion, if you want it there’s more to do in Tomb Raider than meets the eye. Speaking of tombs, I will just briefly touch on the puzzle elements of this game. Puzzles played a major role in the original Tomb Raider series as well as the first reboot beginning with Tomb Raider: Legend. Conversely the 2013 iteration lacks puzzles in the traditional sense, instead going for a more lateral thinking approach. Basically the answer of open a door is not hidden, it’s in plain sight you just have to approach it in the right way. A great example is at one point having to move a hook around overhead lines to open a door. You start thinking, if I pull it over there does that mean I will be able to get it back over there?. I should stress these are often rather simple and people with the right sort of mind will solve it in two seconds, it’s just another little thing adding to the overall depth of Tomb Raider. The ‘secret tombs’ do help to increase this game’s puzzle credentials, I’m very much glad they’re a feature as it shows despite being a reboot the developers haven’t forgot the heritage of the Tomb Raider franchise. Although this is one area that is perhaps in need of expansion in the sequel.

Secondly (this is an area I normally don’t discuss) the character development is another clear difference between the two. Playing Tomb Raider really put Uncharted into perspective to me, looking back Nathan Drake as a character seems a little shallow, known mainly for just witty remarks and sarcasm. Contrast this with the Tomb Raider-in training we have with Lara Croft, this might just be me or it might just be good storytelling but it really felt that as the game progressed so did Lara, she became battle hardened, in fact to quote the final image of the game, “A Survivor is Born”. There is also a much greater sense of progression in Tomb Raider, it managed to do the thing every good game does, just when you think you’ve mastered everything it chucks a new mechanic or weapon to keep you on your toes. Compare this to Uncharted, which to my mind had little if no progression of this kind. Frankly my only example is learning to throw back grenades about half way through Uncharted 3 and honestly that’s such a major combat mechanic I think it should have been there from the start.

That rather nicely brings me on to my next segment, let’s look at some of the gameplay mechanics in more detail. Firstly we’ll start with ‘Survival Instincts’ tap L2 or equivalent at any point and the world turns black and white with key objects that you need glowing, it will also show you a compass point marking where you need to go. From what I’ve seen two major criticisms have been levelled at it. Firstly it appears to be a blatant copy of Assassin’s Creed’s ‘Eagle Vision’ and secondly the compass mark shouldn’t be in an adventure game because they should be about exploring and finding out the way by yourself. My response to this? Well first I’d say if it really bothers you don’t use it, unlike ‘Eagle Vision’ it’s not a necessary part of the game, it’s simply there to aid you if needed. Furthermore I don’t think it’s the worst thing for one developer to be inspired by another, Square Enix is basically saying to Ubisoft, well done we like your idea. Otherwise what would’ve happened is the developers would have been so obsessed with distancing themselves from established mechanics that their new mechanic would be something that probably wouldn’t work and would just annoy you. Secondly the compass issue, yes it does somewhat go against the spirit of the genre, but let’s look at this practically, one of the worst things I feel that can happen in any game is that you have no idea where to go next and you’re just stuck going in circles, features like this just give you a nudge in the right direction so you never end up in that situation.

Next up we come to the ‘Salvage’ system. Salvage is the system used to upgrade your weapons throughout the game, for example it may cost 200 salvage to upgrade your pistol to improve its accuracy. Salvage is gained through the looting of corpses and the breaking of boxes scattered around the map. In theory bar one occasion you don’t have to do this, however if you don’t you’ll also miss the chance to collect weapon parts which allow you to completely overhaul and improve your weapon. Secondly it helps to inject a sense of exploration into the game, furthermore the perfect balance was found with the position of extra boxes, not so close that you don’t have to stray from the game’s main path and yet not so far that you think, I really can’t be bothered going all that way. For me collecting in games can be very hit and miss, the charm and aesthetic of LEGO games means I found collecting in those games fun and not in any way a chore. In most other games however, Uncharted included I don’t really bother as doing it often serves little purpose beyond gaining achievements. Thus I think it should be seen as proof of quality that this game got me obsessed with exploring and collecting. It is worth nothing that footage of this game’s upcoming sequel Rise of The Tomb Raider shown at E3 2015, highlighted that the salvage system has been expanded into a full crafting system meaning particular items are needed for a particular purpose, i.e. leaves are needed as part of a health pack, something to look forward to perhaps.

Lastly we have the ’Skill Point’ system, of course this is nothing new to anyone whose played an RPG but a rare thing in a game of this genre. As you gain experience points through general progression and particular manoeuvres you gain skill points to ‘spend’ on a particular area. This is a welcome addition as it allows you to tailor Lara to suit your style, if you’re an explorer pick the upgrades that increase the XP or salvage you get. This also helps to contribute to the great sense of progression in the game, early on there is effectively no melee combat, all you have is the ability to dodge attacks. But if you spend your points right you can create a more melee focused Lara, allowing you to deliver timed attacks to stun enemies to be followed up with a melee ‘finisher’.

To stop this review sounding incredibly unbalanced I will mention one albeit incredibly minor criticism. I have never liked the fact that in 2 out of the 3 Uncharted games the final boss is basically a sequence of quick-time events. I prefer a more traditional boss battle in which you have a big enemy with lots of life that you have to kill in a small area testing all your skills. Did Tomb Raider deliver? Well sort of, I won’t spoil it but the penultimate fight in the game is a ‘traditional’ boss battle which then leads into the final boss which is once again mainly quick time events. My compliant? I wish those two fights were swapped round, the sense of satisfaction I got after a pretty gruelling battle during the penultimate fight made me feel I’d really been tested, I was then slightly annoyed that the final fight wasn’t much of a test at all. But as you can see this this is a very minor criticism in an otherwise nearly perfect game, and for all I know maybe a QTE final boss in just another trope of the action adventure genre…

Now sadly I’ve reached both the end of the game and this review, one of my best gaming experiences in a long while, from now on I’ll just be praying for Rise of the Tomb Raider to get its release date and perhaps even a rumoured PS3 release. Although if Rise turns out even half as good as the first it may be time to invest in a PS4.

Updates: As mentioned in my previous article, I did make an appearance on the One Track Gamers Podcast, talking a little about Tomb Raider and just having a fun discussion about games in general, give that a listen at www.onetrackgamers.com

As far is the blog is concerned, currently unsure what my next review will be. Although I do have a couple ideas for some other articles that may appear in the coming weeks so keep an eye of my Twitter (@AnotherGmgBlog) for details of those.

Tomb Raider is back, and it has managed to reclaim the crown of best action-adventure game, the ball is in your court Mr Drake… An absolute must-play, if you own a current or last gen console pick up a copy now.


Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag Review

Can you guess the two things wrong with that title? No, well firstly the guy who doesn’t like stealth games is playing Assassin’s Creed and secondly my first Assassin’s Creed game is the 4th one?! All shall be revealed.

Before I get into this, a little bit of context, for a long while Assassin’s Creed was a series I was incredibly interested to play and once I got my PS3 I decided it had to be one of my first games. I’d heard really good things about Black Flag and the navel elements intrigued me and to be honest each individual Assassins Creed game is relatively self-contained so prior experience with the series isn’t a must.

Right, I won’t spend forever on the plot, put simply you are controlling Edward Kenway, a pirate pretending to be part of the Order of Assassins and his desire to gain money through a life of piracy and making a number of enemies along the way…

First things first, Assassin’s Creed is indeed a stealth game, however it’s the type of stealth I enjoy whereby in a lot of cases you have two options: full on don’t get detected stealth or just elect to hack your way through. Although disclaimer, certain missions force you down the full on stealth route. Now the land based missions, one of my biggest annoyances. Far far too many of the missions are tail and eavesdrop missions, the greatest issue with this is it disrupts the pace of play. The way I see it Black Flag has two types of pace, slow, creeping around in attempts to kill people or sprinting across rooftops to escape. Whereas these missions occupy a strange middle ground as you can’t use either of those techniques, go too slow and you’ll fail a mission for going out of range, use the rooftop method and you’ll be detected. It just doesn’t fit the game, I’m glad to hear that the majority of these types of missions have been removed in the follow up: Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

Next up, the navel stealth, two issues here. Firstly the general concept is ludicrous, according to the game it’s possible to sit 100m behind a giant ship in an equally big ship and not get spotted, the game even goes out of its way to highlight that boats have scouts out looking for you! I know games aren’t real, but the lack of common sense is annoying. Secondly the mechanic itself is broken in the game, when looking for you ships have around a 150 degree field of vision means it’s possible to sit directly behind ships and not worry about getting caught.

The land combat, has divided me somewhat. It fundamentally relies on two buttons and mainly just spamming a single button. It’s divisive because I like that the simplicity of the system makes it more accessible to new players, I just feel they could have developed the combat to allow the player to pull off my complex moves as the game progresses. One rather bit of strange logic in the combat is that it takes around 5-6 successive attacks to kill a standard enemy, however if you wait for an enemy to attack you and counter the attack, Edward will pull off a manoeuvre which will automatically kill the enemy and you only need to press two buttons. It just feels somewhat out of place. Next the navel combat, couple points here, firstly players shouldn’t moan that your ship rotates too slowly, the developers are being accurate here, a ship of that size would not rotate 360 degrees in a couple of seconds. Secondly piece of advice, get ready to get used to fighting sideways, in most games such as FPSes you naturally shoot forwards, but remember a ship’s cannons are mounted on the sides so travelling head on into a battle will not be very effective, if you play games such as Guns Of Icarus Online this shouldn’t be an issue for you. The second issue is the fact that your 3 primary weapons are coded to a single button (in the case of PS3 it’s L1). The weapon available to you changes depended on your position in relation to other ships, so if you’re pointing towards the enemy you can only fire your forward guns not your broadside cannons. This can lead to situations where if you aren’t lined up perfectly with your target, you can’t fire the weapon you want. My solution to this? Code each weapon to a D-Pad button i.e forward gun are up, broadsides could be left or right, allowing you to change weapon whenever you like.

If you’ve read up to this point you might be thinking I hate this game, but not quite, there are a number of things I really love about this game. First and foremost this game is very visually appealing, really pushing what the system can do giving the game a cinematic feel. This game has also done well to capture the feeling on the environment. What I mean is when you swing onto a ship and plunge directly into the fray you feel like a true pirate. Secondly, while this may be true of all open world games, the ability to explore and the numerous side missions give you a tremendous amount to do even if the main story is complete. If my personal experience certain parts are immensely addictive, every time I’m about to stop playing I then think, ‘ooh maybe just one more ship upgrade’. Talking of ship upgrades, speaking to a friend of mine who’s also played the game we discovered we had two distinct play styles. I went down the route of upgrade my ship so that I always massively outgunned any ships I’d meet in the story, while my friend spent less time upgrading his ship and relied on his outright skill to progress in the story (Good going Sam!). That is very much the mark of a good game: it’s versatile. But by far and away the stand out feature of this game is… THE SEA SHANTIES. To clarify while you are sailing around your crew will sing songs if you wish and frankly they are insanely catchy and I won’t forget them. (Except ‘Johnny Boker’ search it, it’s infuriating)

Fundamentally Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, feels like something of a missed opportunity, at times it showed sparks of brilliance but is hindered by issues with its core mechanics.

SCORE: 67/100