Ubisoft has found a hit in its Assassin's Creed franchise which means that we can count on seeing annual sequels until the property loses its luster. This year's model is Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag for just about every home platform in town: Sony Playstation 3, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U, and PC. There's a lot of options. Chances are that you own or will own at least one of these systems by the time the game releases in October 2013. This game will potentially reach more players than any other game in the series. Yet after so many sequels, are people still feeling the Assassin's Creed love? Should you be excited about another adventure? This one has pirates! Is that enough? Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton walks us through his time with a demo of the game and wonders if skepticism is warranted.
Late last week, I stopped by Ubisoft's San Francisco HQ to watch ACIV in action, The walkthrough I saw was the same behind-closed-doors demo being shown at E3, but not the one that will be shown during their press conference. The demo was designed to give a sense of the open world, and the seamless way that it all flows together. Seamless. Did you notice how I used that word? That is Ubisoft's favorite word, when talking about Assassin's Creed IV.
The demo I saw, narrated by the game's head writer Darby McDevitt, had the protagonist Edward Kenway (father of ACIII's Hatham Kenway and grandfather of Connor) captaining his ship the Jackdaw across the wide blue Caribbean Sea. He was attacking and boarding enemy ships, swinging down from ship riggings to engage in swashbuckling derring-do, diving off of the ship to stealthily infiltrate an enemy island outposts, and peering through a spyglass into a torrential storm. And yep, there was nary a loading screen in sight.
Hamilton goes on to describe the demo beat by beat and outline whether or not he believed the developer's claims that paired with each major moment in the game. I'm not quite sure where I stand with Black Flag. It demos well and looks wonderful, but so did Assassin's Creed III and I was not pleased with that experience at all in the end. It's the first Assassin's Creed game from which I walked away in frustration. A lot of that frustration stems from failing missions because someone saw my character lurking in the shadows which I hear is no longer a failure condition in Black Flag, so that has my attention. Hamilton describes some interesting and engaging situations that I'd like to explore for myself, but how much of what he's seen is demo bluster and how much will make it into the final product? Black Flag is screaming for a rental, as I've learned my lesson about buying these games at or near launch without fully exploring them on a trial basis.