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You had me at Yo.

December 9th, 2013 (09:04 pm)

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag

OK – I admit it, I am an absolute sucker for pirates. I know they are not at all their romantic vision, but give me a ship and a star to steer her by or whatever the saying is, a fair wind and a lusty crew and you had me at Yo .

I liked Sid Meiers (‘scuse spelling) Pirates although I wasn’t very good at it, and playing on a crappy pc  didn’t help either. This is very much like that game, although with nicer graphics and a much more immersive feel. For one thing, I end up always being the one to pilot the ship. This, I feel, is Not Very Fair. Surely the captain should be standing all brooding and macho on the Poop deck, whilst others Do The Work. But No. I have to sail the boat, do the shopping, go and earn money by treasure hunting divin’ and assassinatin’ - even leaping off at small islets to grab treasure. I’m pretty sure that when I get to the whaling sections I have to be the harpooner too. Now, I’ve read Hornblower AND Moby Dick and I couldn’t have seen Hornblower up to his armpits in whale oil and pointy sticks.

I haven’t got the Whaling Boat yet – there’s whaling ahead (Matey) and I’m not really looking forward to it. You also have to kill and skin animals to craft items, like in Far Cry 3, and I hate killing them too (except the crocodile, the bastard deserves it). It’s ironic that I have no problem stabbing people, but have qualms about virtual whaling.

It’s rather nice (and a tad sad that I enjoy it so much) that my crew cheer me every time I get back on board, but then I’d probably be too soppy a captain in real life. More Pirate! Captain than Blackbeard, I fear. I also sing along to the Shanties, which is uber-sad.

So, yeah, I’m rather loving Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. Ubisoft have – as I  mentioned before – really taken on board the horror that fans felt about AC3 and have produced a blinder. BUT – DESPITE it being huge – with TONS of interesting (rather than makeweight crap like collecting feathers) things to do there’s somethng oddly wrong – and that is (for me at least, ymmv) that I really don’t like the protagonist and his journey isn’t actually of much interest. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great plot and literally takes you all over the Caribbean (Florida is a dung heap don’t bother with it until Disney) but Edward is unlikeable. Not in the OMG I really want to smash your irritating face in, Conor, kind of way, but he’s not actually nice, not even a little bit.

Altair was proud and thoughtless, but his personal journey taught him repentance and humility – Ezio was a greenhorn the reason he remains everyone’s favourite (according to a Ubisoft Poll) because of his heartbreaking beginnings. I actually cried when that terrible thing happened to him, and I really empathised with his desire for bloody vengeance. Conor was just a twit and I think everyone hates him. He’s the Raiden of the Assassin’s Creed world.

Edward Kenway, however, is no flawed hero and he’s certainly not a rogue with a heart of gold. He’s selfish, greedy, ambitious, rude, murderous and driven (by all of the above) I’m frankly appalled at times at the things he does—such as killing the Fort Commanders who have surrendered and have even got their hands up. You get the usual “Edward didn’t kill civilians” warning if you accidently (cough cough) kill off some innocent bystander or sink a civilian ship,(oopsie)  but you don’t get even so much as a raised eyebrow if you stab to death some poor bloke who is already down on the ground because you kicked him in the fork. This probably makes him a lot more realistic – we are all too inured by the lovable pirates portrayed by Depp and Bloom!

Anyway, the hell he didn’t kill civilians – he sinks boats with no thought that there might be passengers on them!

But – all in all, it’s a FABULOUS game, and such a huge pleasure to find it is, after the bloody horror of Assassin’s Creed 3.  The very fact that I want to restart it NOW and i’m only 40 percent done proves that!