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Assassin's Creed Black Flag screenshot
Assassin's Creed Black Flag screenshot
Assassin's Creed Black Flag screenshot
Action Adventure

DEVELOPER: Ubisoft Montreal
GENRE: Action adventure
MODES: Single-player, Multiplayer
STEAM RATING: Very Positive


DEVELOPER: Ubisoft Montreal
GENRE: Action adventure
MODES: Single-player, Multiplayer
STEAM RATING: Very Positive

REVIEW: Played Jan 2017
REVIEW: Played Jan 2017

After Assassin's Creed Revelation and worse, Assassin's Creed 3, Black Flag was like a breathe of fresh air to the series. Although it still suffers from some of the same old, same old stuff in regards to repetition of missions and collecting, it's saved by its excellent ship mechanics, a reasonable main story narrative, and an interesting character you can get immersed in.

Black Flag's stand-out feature is its sailing. Built on the popularity of the ship side missions in AC3, Ubisoft has done a stellar job in turning this optional activity into the basis of a new main game. Our character, Edward Kenway, father of Haytham Kenway of AC3, is a jobless Welshman who has fallen out with his wife over his inability to find work. When she moves out, he travels to the West Indies to look for any opportunity to earn riches and thus win her back. After helping a trader, Kenway is given the opportunity to captain his ship, which leads to a run-in with a Spanish treasure ship. After the battle, Kenway seizes the brig, renames it the Jackdaw, and joins up with the free-for-all buccaneers who control Nassau. As usual, Ubisoft weaves plenty of relevant history into the story plot.

Assassin's Creed Black Flag screenshot

As you earn money through trading and capturing other ships, upgrades become available for the Jackdaw. A mini game controlled from the Captain's cabin allows you to build a fleet from defeated ships and send them on trading missions. Eventually, you also obtain an island house and fleet trading can be handled from here as well. Side missions include taking down fortresses, whaling, and finding treasure chests.

The main plot theme of Templars vs Assassins is still strong in this game, combined with the politics of gaining control over the West Indies. To this end, Britain says they are willing to pardon the pirates if they secede control over the Bahamas capitol city, Nassau. Edward doesn't buy these promises and former colleagues become divided against one another. Neither is Edward interested in either the Templar cause, nor the Assassin's cause, but he is interested in obtaining the mysterious artifact that everyone seems highly interested in. That means first locating someone called the "Sage" who purportedly knows the location of a place called the Observatory where this device is hidden. Throughout the game, his end goal remains cemented in returning to his estranged wife with enough capital to give her the good life.

Graphics, once tweaked are great, with particular note of how realistic the seas look. The ship handling mechanics are top notch and sea battles are a lot of fun, although once you best an enemy ship, boarding goals are also repetitive. Boarding provides the main way to make money for both hero and ship upgrades. Several countries have ships sailing these waters and all of them are fair game.

Since the beginning of the Assassin's Creed series, combat has always been its weak point. I can't speak beyond AC4, but with so many releases in the franchise, you would think that Ubisoft should have this down pat by now. But they don't. However, in this game it has been pared down to its simplest form, having few control buttons you need to concern yourselves about. And it works fairly well with the exception that commands do not register as quickly as one would like, which makes it seem that there are slight pauses in the flow.

Black Flag also has a modern day segment. You are hired by Abstergo to do research through use of the animus, which can now be accessed using DNA samples taken from Desmond Miles body. Abstergo's cover as a Templar organization is the entertainment industry. There's lots of not so subtle hints that it resembles the real Ubisoft. Every once in awhile, you get kicked out of the animus to play a short segment in Abstergo. However, it's not a patch on the Desmond story. If you're interested in how things got to this point, AC1, AC2, Brotherhood and Revelations are the games to play. After this, the rest of the AC games barely have a common thread.

FREEDOM CRY DLC (also available as stand-alone game)

If I hadn't gotten this as DLC with Black Flag, I would never lay out the money for this. You'll see a lot of fairly positive reviews, but my feeling is that many of them are slanted due to the subject matter being slavery and don't truly reflect the actual gameplay merits. It's a lot of politically correct BS because this game overall does not deserve high marks.

Although Ubisoft is big on tackling controversial and historical subjects, they have a tendency to repetitious content throughout their games. Freedom Cry is just a remixed version of portions of Black Flag without the side content to give it interest. There is no crafting, no fleet, few upgrades, which peter into none rapidly, no outfits, and basically no incentive to continue freeing slaves or conducting sea battles after reaching the max amount to gain those updates. There is little use for money as everything becomes free at a certain point and therefore no incentive to board ships as the only cargo you ever need is metal.

The mechanics are also a mess. The protagonist, Adewale, misses jumps, gets locked in during boarding fights and will jerk all over the place, and the stealth is a joke as you can very easily get spotted in the main city of Port-a-Prince and suddenly be surrounded by every guard in the city. Unfortunately, the combat mechanics are just not good enough to handle these enemy numbers. In Brotherhood, you could have taken them on, but not in this game. Button presses often don't register and quitting the game also caused problems. Sometimes destination markers disappear. Missions also become locked till you complete something else.

The gameplay is basically all of the same old stuff, but much less of it. I feel that there was very little effort put into this DLC and that Ubisoft skated solely on the subject matter. I would certainly not buy this as the stand-alone version when they are charging so much for it. It was a severe disappointment after playing the main game. I sincerely don't understand why people pre-buy these pig-in-a-poke Season Passes. My experience with them so far is for the most part poor quality DLC, with the occasional exception.

AVELINE (exclusive to Gold/Deluxe versions)

This short DLC, an extension to Liberation, was okay if you don't mind strolling through a game that is so incredibly easy that you can practically waltz up to the guards and kill them. She's basically invincible.

Game Issues Experienced

Black Flag has a technical problem with FPS drops due to lack of triple buffering. After trying all of the advice about vsync etc, which did not work, I had to resort to using D3D Overrider to resolve the issue. However, this tool is very easy to use. PC Gaming Wiki This link already has D3D Overridder unpacked from Riva Tuner.
  • 1. Download and install D3D
  • 2. Run the program and add AC4BFFSP.exe from Steam apps location on your computer
  • 3. Turn Force Triple Buffering to on for this .exe
  • 4. Start game with D3D overrider running in the background.
  • 5. Ingame, turn vsync on
Another problem you may encounter is the image freezing in the red fort zones. This is easily solved by turning on Volumetric Fog in the graphic options.

Development Note

Ubisoft Montreal has developed all of the main entries in the Assassin's Creed Franchise including the the upcoming Assassin's Creed Origins. However, with the release of Unity, the cannon game after Black Flag, disaster struck the series over major performance issues.

Ubisoft was forced to issue an apology and make some compensation to buyers, with the caveat they wouldn't sue. This also had a direct impact on their new entry, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, developed by Ubisoft Quebec, which suffered in initial sales due to this fiasco. At this time, Ubisoft also stated that it would not be announcing any further AC games for the balance of the year.

For the reviewers who got to try Origins for a short segment at E3 this year (2017), there is a lot of sitting on the fence as to whether AC's year off is going to pay off in terms of innovation to the series. It's due to be released in late October, so I guess we'll know soon enough.

NOTE: For the vast majority of PC games, many digital distributors will offer "Online" CD keys that can be added to your Steam Library
There are various packages available, eg: Gold, Deluxe, but not all are available everywhere and it can be confusing.
Other games in series:   Assassin's Creed
AC 2,   AC Brotherhood,   AC Revelations
AC 3,   AC Unity,  AC Rogue,  AC Syndicate
Scheduled Oct 2017: AC Origins
See Wikipedia for full list
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • Developer(s): Ubisoft Montreal
  • Publisher(s): Ubisoft
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS3 & 4, Xbox 360 & One, Wii U
  • Release: Oct 2013
  • Mode(s): Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Media: Download, Optical Disc
  • DLC Available: Yes
  • OS: Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 & 8
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad, 2.6 GHz / AMD Athlon II X4 620
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Hard Drive: 30GB free space
  • Video: 512MB Vram, GeGorce GTX 260, Radeon 4870
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c compliant
  • Shader Model: 4
  • Input for PC: Keyboard & Mouse, Controller
  • DRM: Uplay
NOTE: Minimum requirements are those officially published at the time of the game's release.
Official Site:   Ubisoft   Support
Achievements: IGN
Cheats: IGN  cheat happens
Patches: Auto Update
To indicate what kind of performance you may get, compare your specs to the system this game was played on. You can also try  Can You Run It
  • Version:  Steam Download
  • OS:  Windows 7 SP1
  • CPU:  Intel Core i5-3570K 3.40GHz
  • Ram:  8GB
  • Disk Drive:  DVD/CD
  • Video:  ATI Radeon HD 7870 2GB
  • Shader Model:  5
  • DirectX:  11
  • Resolution:  1650 x 1050
  • Input:  Keyboard & Mouse
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