Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Review

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Logo
by Brandon Mietzner on December 9, 2013 in Gaming

The Assassin’s Creed series has been quite an active one up to this point, but IV: Black Flag takes us to the most exotic location to date: The high seas, during the golden age of piracy. With this major setting change, does Black Flag bring with it unexpected riches, or is this a treasure best left buried?

Game Issues, Final Thoughts

With the gameplay sorted let’s focus on the story of Edward Kenway. His story is very black and white; he wants to make enough money so he can improve his status because he doesn’t want to be under the boot of other men. This is a common idea of the time but the way it is presented through Kenway’s experiences is one that is unique and different from previous games, and it made it a very enjoyable experience.

Kenway’s story will answer many of the questions raised in previous games with other characters you’ve played in the Animus, but, the overarching story is still one that has too many questions and not enough answers. The last game made many people feel, myself included, that Ubisoft doesn’t know where it wants this story to go, and I for one still have that feeling.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (PC)
(Click Here for Multi-monitor Version)

The PC version of the game has many visual improvements over its console counterparts, including such gems as NVIDIA God Rays, NVIDIA TXAA, NVIDIA HBAO+, NVIDIA Apex Turbulence (PhsyX required), Precentage-Closer Soft Shadows and the ability to play it on a 4k monitor with 4k textures. As you can see, NVIDIA is the video card of choice if you want to run all these inclusive features. I personally have NVIDIA video cards in my rig and I have to say, those features do make the game look a lot nicer.

As nice as these features are, though, it would have been nicer if the PC didn’t have bugs that only happened on the PC. There were times I had some strange bugs occur such as when my ship was birthed at a certain location and would rise from the depths. It was hilarious to see, for sure, but there are other bugs that just defy belief until you see them. I have mentioned these to my console playing counter parts and they’ve never seen anything like what I saw.

This sadly feels like another port and the PC did not receive the polish it was promised, even though Ubisoft delayed it for the PC to finish it. Many of the issues are not showstopping, and the only one that I did encounter was not reproducible, so many of these can be over looked. However, the PC deserves a little more TLC than just additional graphical features, no matter how pretty they are.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (PC)

The sound quality and professional voice acting is of course as excellent as ever. The biggest surprise is that the game includes Shanties for the ship’s crew to sing and though the selection can be repetitive at first, they are well sung.

On the topic of audio, the game engine does have a couple of bugs. I experienced one where it sounded like the shanty was being sung in a tunnel, but telling them to sing a different song fixed it. Another one occurred when I was in combat and I could not hear the guns firing from my ship; this time I had to restart the game to get it sorted.

In the end, Assassin’s Creed IV brought with it new features, but the game as whole hasn’t changed all that much. Fans of the series will undoubtedly find these new additions enjoyable, and those who stayed away from the series and are on the fence about coming back might find it an enjoyable voyage. But those who are tired of the same old gameplay might want to keep this confined to Davey Jones’ locker, because there probably won’t be enough to change your mind.


  • Exclusive PC visuals.
  • Improved character story.
  • Naval combat focus.


  • Exclusive PC bugs.
  • Overarching story remains lackluster.
  • Compartmentalized item gathering.
  • No improvement on combat/free-run.
  • Underwater salvage side missions.

Page List

1. Introduction, Story & Gameplay
2. Game Issues, Final Thoughts
3. Extra Screenshots

  • Corey Naish

    I agree on the whole. It’s an improvement for the series– but not a huge one. I think I’m happy with the modern-day stuff being optional, that at least, was a fantastic move. The one thing that bothers me a bit is the combat feels like a downgrade from AC3. While AC3 might not be everyone’s favourite, the combat was VERY polished; combat’s a bit sloppy in AC4.

    • Rob Williams

      I’m willing to bet that those who give the game a go who’ve never played an AC game before will be the most impressed with it. I fall into that camp, and in the hour or so I played it the other day (in order to establish a benchmark), I was rather blown-away. The graphics for one thing are amazing, as is the vast landscapes. Climbing up to a bell tower and surveying the area is just… awesome.

      I haven’t dabbled too much with combat but it didn’t seem too bad. There was one fight where I felt like I had literally no control over my character though… I couldn’t attack at all, it’s like it was broken.

      I do see this as a game I’ll play in the future though, once I clear out my overdue queue.

    • Kayden

      The combat problems I think go back to the core of the problems with the controls. There was still a lot of camera jerking in ACIII but it wasn’t as bad as ACIV I have to agree. I do think the free-running was worse in ACIII, too many times I was trying to go into a window or something and I just hit a wall cause I didn’t climb up perfectly. This left me seeing my characters hand half way across the window and a bullet to the back that I just finally gave up on using that option as an escape.