I never got around to Assassin's Creed III. Though my Native American, British, and American ancestry tells me I probably should. Despite the blood connection, I'm more intrigued by Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. There's something about pirates that's innately awesome. Perhaps it's the swashbuckling freedom that lets a captain do as he like. Free to pillage, free to fight, free to drink - while at the same time being sought of civilised about it. My hands-on with Black Flag wasn't quite that inspiring, but it did have 'splosions, booty, and fisticuffs. That's as close as we're going get.
There wasn't a heap of context. I was holding the helm of my ship, anchored on the doorstep of an island fortress when the game said, 'blow that up'. That sounded like a good night on the town, so I endeavoured not to do that and instead have my way with the other ships sailing about.
It took me a wee while to figure out how to actually do stuff and so my ship's backside was for a time, free game for whoever would take 'er. Once I gathered about, slowed down, started aiming with R2 and shooting with L2 - I was firing broadside 'till Davy Jones had her.
It then occurred to me that would have been an ideal time to try capturing a ship. So it was not to be. Still I decided to not attack the fortress and instead strolled on a purposeless island, got back on the ship and decided it was now time to attack the fortress.
Here I discovered my mounted cannons, which could auto-lock on a target (fortress or ship) and fire regularly to cause rather significant damage. Proving far more effective than my primary cannons, it would be infinitely easier to just you use those, and also infinitely less fun. So that's exactly what I did and in a few effortless-minutes later the outer walls were gone and I was given a way up.
So I jumped and climbed my way into a cluster of surprised gentlemen whom I was looking to scrap. After flint-locking a guy in the face, I tried to best the enemy in satisfaction along with fellow pirates. The same foundations seemed to be there, but first impressions told me it wasn't quite as entertaining as previous games. I did manage some dual-bladed leaps onto foes which somewhat quelled the immediate frustrations. I then chased after the leader - gave 'im the one-two, after which a cutscene played and my demo was over.
By the end the combat had me wanting. It wasn't the graceful song of sword and dance I remembered. The game didn't really tell me how to play, so my stylish dancing probably looked more like a crump. Alas I can't really hold this too much against it. I assume when I reach this point in the game proper, I'll be well versed.
Most of us are already acquainted with Assassin's Creed's combat. It probably isn't why you'll want to play either. I came to sail fast through seas on rampant escapades, pillaging my way through a naval-based open world. That's the kind of context that'll make combat interesting.
You're going spend a lot of time on it, so I should probably mention the water. This is some of the best I've seen. Apart from being graphically impressive, your huge ship is actually moved by the waves, inclining and declining on ocean's body.
I came away more expectant for this new sandbox. It has an enthusiasm of character that makes its large Caribbean landscape ever more attractive. Its spirit of tomfoolery, freedom, and the nature of the adventure already has my attention prisoner. November will tell whether this expedition proves more focused than its predecessor apparently was.
And with all that plunder lying about, here's hoping this time we'll have plenty to spend it on.
Pros: Entertainingly captures the heart of piracy
Cons: Combat held the least excitement