It’s my turn to take on the So I Tried... series, and I think you all know the score by now. I’ll take a game that I have never tried before and play it for a solid half an hour, no matter how much I hate it, or how poorly I perform. Maybe I’ll find a new game to lose myself in; maybe I’ll find one to gather dust on my shelf. Either way, I decided to give the PS4 version of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag a go.
What I thought it was
I’ve seen screenshots, and I’m waiting with bated breath to sail a ship across open waters, downing enemy vessels and plundering them for all the coin I can carry. Speaking honestly, I’m expecting the same sort of thing that we were treated to in Sly 3: Honour among Thieves, though that might just be wishful thinking. Apparently, the Assassin’s Creed series is usually pretty on the ball when it comes to historical accuracy, so perhaps my experience will be as educational as it is entertaining.
What it actually was
An interesting mix of stealth gameplay and unreliable free-running; it might not be exactly what I had expected from a game in which I play as a pirate, but I did at least get a brief taster for how ship-based combat would function later on in the game. Very brief, in fact, though the controls felt intuitive (and enjoyable) enough to draw me in so completely that my opinion of the game was almost made up on the spot. The visuals were stunning, and I felt completely immersed in the world, despite the distractingly linear platforming gauntlet I was forced to run. And then, just when I was really getting into the whole pirate business, the game slapped me on the wrist and took me to an interactive cut-scene that, thematically, would have been more at home in Deus Ex. I’m sure the pairing of eighteenth century privateering and futuristic office working makes complete sense in the wider canon of the series; however, to someone outside of that bubble, it just broke up the flow of the gameplay and I was left feeling alienated from what had been an otherwise enthralling concept.
Will I keep playing
The story, the game’s mechanics and the setting didn’t quite mesh together as nicely as I would have liked, and I can’t help but think that Black Flag would be so much better off as a standalone title, rather than being encompassed by an overarching narrative. The individual elements just don’t work when put together, but they do provide a huge amount of enjoyment when taken separately. Being able to climb to the top of buildings and covertly sneak around guard outposts is fun, as is the ability to pilot a galleon; sure, it doesn’t make any sense, but it’s enough to leave me wanting to play more, and that’s just what I’ll do.