Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag in depth news and analysis

               Hello once again, readers of TheWhyButton, here is another news article to top off the mid-summer month of July. Personally I am a huge fan of the Assassins Creed [sic] series, and there was a ton of news about the next installment to the series: Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag. It may seem that there is not much news for this article, however there is actually a huge amount of Assassins Creed IV news that came along with a thirteen minute Caribbean open world demo, which I will go into with extreme depth. As for advice to any who has not seen the thirteen minute demo, GO WATCH IT NOW!
             The demo begins in a small village a few missions into the game. At this point in the story Edward Kenway had already met the Assassins though he is still a pirate; therefore he still pursues selfish goals such as fame and riches.
            I shall digress for a moment to speak about the graphics and the physical properties of this one town. First of all, the graphics are absolutely fantastic! One problem that I and many had with Assassins Creed III is that while the forest and tree free running was fun, new, and interesting, the free running in the cities was not that good compared to the other games. This is not necessarily the fault of the developers, because they made late eighteenth century colonial America very realistic, though the problem with that is the buildings were not high. In addition the roads were very wide therefore navigating by rooftop was inconvenient and not fast, and the player just ended up running through the street most of the time. This is especially poor if we compare this to past Assassins Creed games, where the player could navigate Ezio Auditorre through large, dense, amazing Renaissance cities with huge buildings and small streets and amazing travel within Florence, Venice, Rome, and Instanbul. Fortunately the creators of Assassins Creed IV highly improved the towns and cities. While being realistic in the early eighteenth century colonies, the buildings are still not that high. Never the less, the streets are really small, and the houses and buildings are really close together, making the free running system very fast. It is also great how they put the tropical climate to affect the game. Personally I live in the Caribbean (North Coast Dominican Republic Cabarete) so I really know how the wildlife of the jungle just consumes towns; also living here gives me so much more interest in this new game. In the towns there are a lot of jungle trees between streets and buildings, as well as there are even rivers running through the town. The atmosphere seems so full of life. The houses in the villages are also more like grass huts, (like poor beach houses) and the cities have the Spanish/Italian architecture influence.
This is the largest city in the game: Havana, Cuba
        Back to reviewing the demo, the player first accepts an assassination contract, pretty much the exact same way that one did in Assassins Creed II. Edward Kenway walks through crowds for a few blocks and then reaches some sort of pub. This area can be used to find advice, missions, purchase upgrades and items, to hire new crew for the ship, the Jackdog, or simply drink alcohol. Edward’s target is very close to the desk of the pub, therefore Edward goes incognito blending into the desk, before he assassinates the target bashing his head into the desk. The other templar target runs away. As the chase is going on the producer explains that there are many ways a chase can go; one can simply get near the target and then assassinate them, they can use the new pistol’s third person free aiming mode to shoot the target, or the target can reach his ship and then the chase must continue by ship. There are no loading screens in the game; one can go on and off ship freely without waiting. As they go chasing the ship the producer explains how the Jackdog is like the second protagonist in the game. There are dozens of upgrades that can be given to the ship, and must be given in order to be able to face the giant ships. One may also customize the ship how they wish. There are also many different types of ships that one faces in the game, from small scouts, to the average sized frigate, to giant armada ships that are impossible to defeat without upgrades. As the Jackdog reaches the pursuing ship, Edward Kenway looks through his telescope to examine the enemy ship. One can do this is the game to see what valuable cargo the ship is carrying and how dangerous the ship is. The ship that Edward was pursuing was filled with rum, which the producer commented “it can be highly valuable in the economy, if you know how to use it right.” This makes me feel that there is going to be a shipment economy system much like Assassins Creed III, where different supplies could be made or combined and used in certain ways. I actually don’t like this, yes there are different fun ways to get money but still this is a game about assassinating, stealth, killing people, this is not FarmVille. Stop selling rum and wheat and keep getting money by assassination contracts! Anyway when attacking the enemy ship the player has the choice to either merely destroy the ship or plunder the ship. Plundering the ship would mean to not completely destroy it; merely immobilize it and then use it for resources, which is slightly more difficult than just destroying it. The way the cannons work is exactly like the last Assassins Creed game, though one can also use the swivel gun more freely, to take out specific crew or the captain. There are many ways to board the enemy ships, either stealthily do it from far away by swimming through the water, or full on board it right beside it with all of your crew. The only concern is if someone in your crew dies, they die for good. In the demo Edward climbed up the sail of the ship, and used free running to jump onto the sail masts of the enemy ship, and then perform an air assassination to get down. The combat is almost exactly like Assassins Creed III it appears, which I really liked. Edward Kenway use two swords and can quickly switch to his pistols and back. It also appears that Edward is wearing leather armor; this may indicate that we can upgrade armor in this game, which I really liked and missed from the last game. Once the ship was conquered the player had a choice, to either use the ship’s part to repair the player’s own ship (implying that the ship does not just regenerate), send their ship to Edward’s fleet, or take the ship’s remaining crew members and make them Edward’s crew.
                  After this segment Edward’s ship continues navigating through the Caribbean sea, the map is revealed to be very large, and the game takes place in Cuba, the Bahamas, Southern Florida, Hispaniola (my country!), and Puerto Rico, as well has dozens and dozens of miscellaneous land masses. Personally I love how the game presents the tropical biome. The water is so colorful, bright, and well done, the jungles are full of life, and they “perfect the combination of man-made structures with natural free running use.” It also appears that the game will have a day and night cycle with various weather patterns, because the Caribbean weather is quite chaotic and unpredictable! This game makes me wish I lived in the Caribbean, until I remember that I actually do.  Anyway there are also among seventy five different secret locations that have upgrades for both Edward and his ship. In the demo Edward came across a small island where a dead drunken sailor was found with a treasure map with Mayan ruins. During this point the player also saw a faction war occurring from far away. In this game, identical to this point in history, the Spanish and British empires were not friends, and were very competitive. In this game one can choose to work with either of these factions, either favoring one, making peace with both, or destroying both and always stealing and plundering from everyone. On the journey to the island with the treasure the ship discovers that it is in a storm. The producer comments that “storms can be very dangerous and can destroy your ships if you don’t know how to navigate through one, however you can also use it to your advantage, by perhaps leading an enemy ship into a storm as a trap to destroy them.” I plan on using this trick a lot if I encounter trouble with ship warfare. They reach the island, and it is occupied by either Templars or colonists. There are many stealth maneuvers that one can use, for the jungle brush is very concealing. The Mayan ruins also show the perfect combination of tree free running and building free running. The stealth in this game looks a lot smoother than the stealth in its predecessor. I always was caught in Assassins Creed III because the maneuvers were always faulty and awkward, in addition the stealth never felt necessary because one could just fight and kill everyone so easily. Having said that the final part of the demo proved that stealth was necessary at some parts in this game. Right outside of the temple where the treasure lies there were two guards with prisoners. If Edward can save the prisoners then they become part of his crew, however if Edward is caught then the prisoners shall be killed. Once the player took down the enemies and gained his new recruits the demo was over, and that was one hell of a taste of Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag.
             The game appears to be coming out this Halloween, and yet there is still one huge question on my mind. We get what most of this game is going to be like, however one major detail has not been revealed, and hopefully won’t be until the release. Who is going into the animus???? We know that it has to be someone who is related to Desmond to have the same ancestor from three hundred years ago, so are we getting a new protagonist with the series? What ever happened with the end of the world? Is that goddess taking over the world? My hypothesis is that Desmond is not going to be dead; the writers of this series are predictable enough. Personally I love all of the writing for the assassins’ stories, I love Ezio and Altair stories, they were so beautifully and perfectly done, amongst the best plot and stories I have ever played, looking through their tragic lives, and even Connor’s story was pretty good. However the writing for the Desmond story is disappointing and lazy. Every game instead of answering questions and coming up with any sort of resolutions and conclusions they just put in a bunch of confusing stuff that makes absolutely no sense. It is forgivable to do that sort of thing once, like I didn’t mind the ending of Assassins Creed II and in fact it interested me highly. Assassins Creed Revelations was one of my favorite endings to any game ever, that gave no confusing questions, and in fact it answered almost everything of the horrible mess the plot was in before. Not answering questions and doing stuff that makes no sense and never gets answered later is just a cop out and the result of lazy writing. WARNING: the following examples proving my point contain major game spoilers, if you have not played all of these games and you care not to get spoiled, and then read no more. You have been warned.  Here are some examples: In Assassins Creed II there is a segment where Desmond becomes Altair, sure, that is really cool, but then he goes and sleeps with a Templar woman from the first game. This was treated like it was a big deal for the plot, and yet it was never mentioned again and to this day that segment means nothing. It was cool to unexpectedly play as Altair though all one did was chase a woman, no cool fighting or assassinations or intriguing important plot points. Example number two: the entire ending of Assassins Creed: Brotherhood. Yes, to this day they never explained why Desmond killed Lucy, while there are theories there is no actual answer. Why would they kill off the only reason I was actually interested in Desmond's story. Everyone was waiting for them to fall for each other and have a moment and then BAM!!! She is dead. The writers merely wanted to have a dramatic ending, though this just made no sense and was disappointing.  Example three: the ending of Assassins Creed III. This is what the writers were probably thinking “ooh damn, oh no, what do we do, we need to finally conclude this big mess, there is not more room to excuse space for another game (I mean really the entire Assassins Creed III plot was getting ONE KEY!!!)  uummmm……ummmm….. let’s kill him? Ya he’ll die to save everyone it sounds perfect!” Meanwhile another writer turns to him and asks “Well then what are we going to do about the next game?” Where the first lazy writer replies “Don’t think like that! Don’t be stupid! We never think out how our random meaningless illogical plot points for Desmond actually support or pan out for future games, now go drink some for glue and rat poison like the rest of the Desmond story line writing department!” Meanwhile the Ezio/Altair/Connor writing departments are filled with educated award winning greatest gaming writers ever.

          I apologize for this rant, it is just difficult to see how such beautiful and perfect storylines can be written beside such lazy cop out story lines in one game. I am not sure who is going into the animus in the next game, or what is happening in the future at that time, hopefully it will be really interesting and bring new stuff to the table with a plot that actually makes sense. If nothing has changed for Desmond’s writers, Desmond would be alive in this game, because writing him back to be a alive and then having just something else to do to stop Minerva would be the laziest sensible way to write the future segment of this game. What do you guys think? Are you as excited for the game as I am? Who do you think is going into the animus and why? Please comment and Brock Out!

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