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Outsider Opinions: Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, And Not Getting Our Hopes Up

assassin's creed black flag

Note: Outsider Opinions is a segment where I talk about games that I don’t know quite well enough to talk about objectively or review. All statements are highly subjective, mistakes may be made and nothing here should be taken as fact. Basically this is undiluted, and sometimes unresearched, opinion and should be taken as such.

Assassin’s Creed is one of those series which has been around for so long at this point that virtually everyone has an opinion on it in some way or another. Maybe it’s that the series has done so much right at this point that a few little blips along the way can be forgiven, maybe it’s that Ubisoft has made Assassin’s Creed their Call of Duty by releasing a new one annually or maybe it’s just that they have resigned themselves to the fact that this is one series they will never be able to be fully “into”.

For me it’s the latter.

I mean, it’s not like I have anything against Assassin’s Creed per se. I thought the original looked intriguing, with complex level and animation designs and a solid storyline concept and skill progression. But the reality of the gameplay tired me out fairly quickly, feeling like the “viewpoints” and other various carrots thrown in to impede/encourage proceeding through the story were a little overt and repetitious.

I’ve tried at various times to get back into the series, but I’ve never successfully managed to complete a title. I played around an hour of the first, roughly half of Assassin’s Creed II, watched a fair bit of Brotherhood and messed around for 40 minutes or so in one of the others that I can’t remember.

But despite my coloured history with the series, I still find myself enthused while looking at the promotions for the latest title, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, which is due to be released later this week. The pirate setting feels like a major step forward for the series (although admittedly the Civil War theme felt like a step forward as well) and being tied to a ship instead of a villa somewhere just sounds like a much more appealing base of operations.

While were here I should probably mention that I’ve always found that part of Assassin’s Creed overdone, which usually garners its fair share of criticism from any friends that are fans of the series. Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t become an assassin to micromanage the wine investments of a large statehouse in a town in southern Italy somewhere – I became an assassin to creep around and kill people. The point at which I am spending more time sitting at home working out which industries to invest in or which person I need to hire on to my crew than I am stabbing people on the back and throwing them off rooftops is the point at which I lose interest in the game.

Anyway back to Black Flag.

So everything looks great on the surface, but realistically it always does. Ubisoft has a strong marketing department, and I’ve never watched a trailer for an Assassin’s Creed game that didn’t make me want to play said game. But they also have a history of filling in the action with hours of beg and fetch missions with medium to low amounts of assassinery (assassin craft? Assassing?) and keeping the mouthwatering concepts spaced out like chocolates in advent calender – just one every so often to keep you interested, but never enough to fill you up.

I guess I’m just sick of being let down by the end product after over hyping myself on the promotion material, and that’s a fairly predictable risk when you are promoting a new title in the series quite literally every year (yes I’m one of those people too).

The bottom line is that if I had seen “Black Flag” on the cover of a game and watched a trailer like the one this game has it would have been an immediate buy. But the fact that those two words are preceded by “Assassin’s Creed” is what is currently stopping me from rushing out and buying it day one.

And when the appeal of your series is lower than the appeal of your sequel, you know that something somewhere (at least for someone) has gone wrong.

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