Good afternoon! I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and it was really enjoyable. It seemed like a good blog topic, so I’m going to discuss the strongest and weakest elements of the game. Even though Black Flag was released back in 2013, gamers still remember it today. This game was quite popular in the Assassin’s Creed franchise and it was definitely one of the most unique installments. Keep reading to find out how I felt about it.
The story takes place in the Caribbean during the 18th-century, focusing on a pirate and privateer named Edward Kenway. He’s searching for wealth that can help his family, but complications and new developments alter his priorities. Eventually, he joins the Assassin Order and battles the Knight Templars. Kenway also encounters several historical pirates and tries to help them build an utopia that is free of governmental or monarchial control. The story can change a little bit, depending on the player’s decisions.
I’ll start with the positive elements. First of all, it’s a really fun game. I had a blast with sword fighting and swashbuckling. The player has a chance to use a variety of weapons, including guns, smoke bombs, poisonous darts, and more. There are many opportunities for stealth kills and evasions from more difficult enemies. I really enjoy the underwater sequences to search for treasure and other valuable items. The player has a chance to upgrade Kenway’s weapons and equipment, which is helpful in later chapters. There are countless side missions and the player can choose any combinations of them. Most of the side missions are really fun and the main story is entertaining as well. The game has a brisk pace from one activity and battle to another. There was enough variety and options to keep me intrigued.
Black Flag has a fabulous open world environment with lush tropical environments, bustling Caribbean towns, cool ships, and wonderful underwater locations. Modern players might not be impressed with the graphics, but it was cutting age back in 2013. This was also Assassin’s Creed largest environment at the time. The player sails to multiple islands and each one has different opportunities, altercations, and visual elements. Actually, the environment can be really helpful. Some of the background elements helped me hide from enemies, escape from them, and complete stealth assassinations. It’s really fun to explore each area because there are treats everywhere. You can find money, weapons, useful allies, and new missions simply by exploring the map. It’s hard to become disinterested with the vast open world setting.
This game gives flexible options to the player. Do you prefer leaping into combat head on? That’s totally an option. Would you prefer to kill your enemies with stealth approaches? That works too. Kenway can pick up multiple allies through the game if you give them an incentive, which makes the game play much easier. It’s also fine to take the solo approach as well. Basically, the player can find the best way to proceed through the main story on an individual level. Each player is different and this game is quite accommodating. You can spend weeks or even months exploring the entire game.
Black Flag is a good option for players who are less familiar with the Assassin’s Creed series. It’s less difficult than some of the installments and the game play helps the player develop many skills along the way. I thought it was easier to play and smoother than Unity. Trial and error experiences work pretty well in the long run. This game also works really well for experts in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Black Flag is significantly different than the other games and it gives experienced players a lot of freedom. Overall, everybody wins.
The player also meets historical pirates through the main story, including Black Beard, Calico Jack, Charles Vane, Benjamin Hornigold, and Anne Bonny. I thought it was fun to interact with the characters. The player can turn these historical figures into allies, but it’s also easy to wind up on their bad side. We get to see plenty of pirates in this game, which is a plus.
I have a handful of minor complaints. The biggest issue is twitchy game play. Sometimes my character randomly jumped around, ran in the wrong direction, and climbed up the scenery for no particular reason. Unfortunately, these mistakes can lead to death or failing missions in worst case scenarios. I got killed by angry mobs several times because Kenway grabbed unnecessary scenery during big chase scenes.
Certain missions are very tedious. The player has to chase other characters and capture them sometimes. Kenway also has to follow enemies and eavesdrop on their conversations frequently. These missions aren’t particularly fun and they can be frustrating. Granted, this isn’t a new problem in Assassin’s Creed. Nearly all of the games in this series include similarly annoying missions.
Money drains very quickly without warning. It’s necessary to spend money on weapons, clothes, bribing other characters, etc. Apparently, being a pirate and assassin is pricy business. I spent a lot of time searching for loot and going on side missions to obtain more money. Some players might get frustrated enough to lose interest because of this aspect.
Personally, I had a difficult time with most of the nautical missions. The ships don’t handle very well and the aiming system requires a lot of practice. However, some players might not struggle that much. It’s probably an individual situation. I think players will handle the nautical battles and traveling well if they click with racing games.
The story isn’t particularly interesting. It’s pretty thin and mostly focuses on a pirate who eventually becomes an assassin. That’s about it. You’re not going to find a lot of deep themes, multiple layers, subplots, or anything else. It’s totally fine for Assassin’s Creed, but some modern games have more complexity.
It was also really easy for me to get lost in the huge environment. The maps are massive and the player can head in all kinds of directions. That was a little bit of problem for me because I’m directionally challenged. Open world environments can be difficult for me. However, the maps are helpful and expert gamers will probably be fine. Eventually, I was able to get back on track after taking the scenic route.
What’s my verdict? I absolutely recommend this game. It’s old news, but many players will enjoy the experience. Black Flag is fun, interesting, and full of opportunities. Expect to spend a lot of timing playing missions. It’s a huge game and you probably won’t beat the main story right away. I’m just letting you know because some gamers want to finish everything within a week. You don’t even have to be a fan of Assassin’s Creed to like this game. Just have fun and try it out.
That’s the end of my review for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Have you guys played this game yet? What did you think about the experience? Leave a comment and tell me about it. Watch out for more news, photos, reviews, discussions, and interviews. You’ll always be able to find something interesting on my website. Enjoy the rest of your week and come back for my next post.
Thanks for visiting my blog again! I’m starting the fall with a double feature review for Kin and A Simple Favor. Kin is a sci-fi thriller with quite a few social commentaries, wheras A Simple Favor is crime thriller and dark comedy. 2018 dished out quite a few disappointing releases. Did any of these movies fix the slump? I’ll tell you all about it below with the best and worst elements of each film.
First, I’m going to start with Kin. The story takes place several years after a near apocalyptic event took place. It doesn’t seem like the nation is thriving very well and crime is skyrocketing in urban areas. Everything might be pretty normal for some people, but others are struggling with poverty and a low quality of life. Jimmy Solinski was recently released from prison and he wants to reconnect with his family. Unfortunately, Jimmy is still in trouble because he owes a lot of money to criminals. Furthermore, Jimmy’s younger brother, Elijah, finds an alien raygun and tries to keep it a secret from everyone. At some point, the two brothers are going to wind up in serious danger.
The positive elements in this film are few and far between. Overall, I like the sci-fi elements. The alien gun is a nice homage to the cyberpunk genre and it dishes out major damage. I wish the aliens appeared more often because they're fascinating and a cool addition to the movie. They bring an element of mystery to the story and occasional high tech components. Kin is best when it focuses on the sci-fi elements instead of the social commentaries.
I don’t mind Myles Truitt as Elijah. He makes better choices than his older brother and I find his character more interesting than everyone else. It almost seems like Elijah has to be the adult sometimes and that’s unfortunate. Deep down, he’s a decent kid who doesn’t have any role models. I actually feel really bad for him because he’s stuck in a crime infested neighborhood with an older brother who has a shady past. Elijah’s father works hard, but he’s rarely home and doesn’t bother to show good influences. I suppose Elijah has an uphill battle and it adds a little bit of complexity to his character.
The rest of my commentary isn’t very positive. First of all, I have a huge issue with the story’s themes and most of the characters. I expect crime lords to be horrible characters, but shouldn’t the protagonists have some positive elements? Jimmy is such a trouble maker! I’m going to warn you about minor spoilers in this paragraph, but it shouldn’t ruin a viewing. Jimmy takes Elijah on a literal crime spree! They commit armed robbery and other unsavory acts. Jimmy even takes his fourteen year old brother to a strip club. I couldn’t believe it! The script wants Jimmy to appear redeemable, but he proves to be a lifelong criminal who can’t make good decisions. Kin also has police officers who function as redshirts and bumbling idiots. They’re generic movie cops who don’t seem competent enough to handle crime.
Furthermore, the plot is forgettable and the film needs a lot more action. Kin has a lot of pacing issues and it doesn’t embrace the interesting sci-fi elements. Jonathan and Josh Baker directed this movie and I have a feeling they wanted it to be more realistic. It doesn’t look like an expensive film either and that might also explain the lack of sci-fi elements.
Overall, I’m not recommending this movie. Kin was a box office flop and I doubt it's playing in theaters anymore. I can tell this film took a lot of influences from the YA dystopian genre, but young people should avoid it. This movie could give them bad ideas and I’m not kidding.
Let’s switch gears to A Simple Favor. The film’s protagonist is a widow and single mother named Stephanie Smothers. She befriends Emily Nelson, a socialite with a mysterious past. It seems like Emily has the perfect life. She has a great husband, an adorable son, a successful career, a lavish household, and tons of style. Out of the blue, Emily disappears for several days without contacting her family. Stephanie plays a little bit of detective work to find out what happened. Unfortunately, the situation is messy and Stephanie realizes her best friend is a very different person.
This movie is much better than I anticipated. It’s charming, witty, naughty, and little bit campy. The plot has several twists and turns that the audience won’t see coming. It’s a slow burn with some classic noir elements. This film also borrows elements from Murder She Wrote and Desperate Housewives. A Simple Favor is definitely reaching out to female viewers and that’s probably not a bad thing. The story is clever and it unfolds slowly while the films progresses.
I think most of the characters are quite strong, complex, and well developed. Anna Kendrick plays Stephanie and she was delightful to watch. I find her quite funny and dorky in an endearing way. She’s a vlogger who frequently posts cooking recipes, home décor ideas, and everything that would be useful for a stay at home mother. At first, it seems like Stephanie is a real ingénue, but she has several tricks up her sleeves. Blake Lively plays Emily Nelson, Stephanie’s best friend and a total enigma. She’s both wicked and charming, as expected from a true sociopath. Emily has many witty lines that fit the movie’s dark humor well. Her character has a lot of layers and you’ll be guessing about her situation until the end. Henry Golding plays Sean Townsend, Emily’s husband and a washed up author. His character is also mysterious and complex. Sean adds extra elements to the main plot and it’s not easy to tell if he’s telling the truth about anything. I didn’t mind some of the minor characters either, including Dennis Nylon who portrays Rupert Friend. Dennis is a fashion designer and Emily’s fussy boss. I find him delightfully campy and amusing, even though he doesn’t have a lot of screen time.
A Simple Favor also has some weaknesses. My main complaint is the film’s length. This type of movie doesn’t need to be any longer than an hour and half. It runs a full two hours and the momentum just doesn't move fast enough. I would say it’s a slow burn to a fault. Granted, this isn’t a boring film. Some of the scenes drag out and it simply isn't necessary.
Don’t expect this movie to be realistic either. The characters are fun, complex, and humorous, but they don’t seem like real people. The dialogue works for this genre, but it’s a little bit awkward and cartoonish sometimes. This film keeps the audience guessing, but I figured out a couple plot points in the middle of the story. However, it didn’t ruin the experience and I couldn’t figure out the majority of the main twists.
Should you see A Simple Favor in theaters? I guess it depends on your viewing preferences. It would be a good outing for people who enjoy mysteries and crime thrillers. Viewers will also appreciate it if they have a penchant for dark humor. Believe it or not, I think a lot of teenage girls will like this film. It has an R rating, but that doesn’t usually stop young adults in today’s world. This movie would also be a fun outing for ladies night. Regarding everyone else, wait for it to come out on streaming services. It’s actually pretty good, but some viewers might not want to pay for movie theater tickets.
That’s all for now. Many more exciting films are coming out this year. Are you looking forward to any movies? Leave a comment to give me the details. Thanks a lot for being a great audience and I'll see you guys next week.
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