Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Preview

Assassin's Creed Iv: Black Flag Preivew for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC at GAME

Just when you thought you were getting tired of Ubisoft's titanic open world series, along comes a prospect so exciting it's hard not to go weak at the knees all over again. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag promises to be the most exciting instalment yet, and that's much more than another hollow promise.

You can tell a lot by a title, and that 4 suggest that this is going to be a substantial step forward for the series. It took Ubisoft three years and three games before it decided it had created a new title worthy of numbered status, but we've barely torn the shrink-wrapping off of Assassin's Creed III as news of this sequel arrives. So what's the deal?

Importantly, Assassin's Creed IV introduces an all-new protagonist, and somewhat thrillingly he looks like he's going to be the measure of Ezio di Auditore, the star of the second game whose personality was so big it took three games to contain it all. You're Edward Kenway, a relative of Assassin's Creed III's Connor who thankfully is a bit less of a wet blanket.

Like Ezio he's a dashing, buccaneering sort - and what really marks him out as something potentially exciting is his dark streak that means his charm is touched with a certain savagery. Which is quite fitting, giving his vocation.


Rollins with it

See, it's the other part of Assassin's Creed IV's title that promises so much. No, this isn't a spin-off that plops you in the middle of seminal '80s hardcore punk band - though we'll admit that's a game we'd love to play. It is, if possible, even more exciting than that - you're a pirate, and the Caribbean is your playground.

What that means in practice is an open world that's more expansive than any we've seen in Assassin's Creed before, and one that's linked together by vast swathes of blue, blue ocean. If you can remember Assassin's Creed III's naval missions - which shouldn't be too hard, as that game only came out a couple of blinks ago - then you'll know that this could be a very good thing indeed.

As Kenway you'll be able to board your ship and set sail for the seas, and the exploration is more than a little reminiscent of classic Zelda outing The Wind Waker. Like that game, expect the sea to be more than a blue expanse - there'll be outposts to explore, and plenty of little distractions to make the business of getting from A to B that much more pleasurable.


Back in Black

Not that the traditional Assassin's Creed template has been abandoned. There'll still be cities in Black Flag, and the breadth of the play space means there'll be a really diverse bunch. There's the Cuban capital of Havana, which is a more classical city that boasts architecture that's almost European, and that's pleasantly familiar. Then there's Kingston, a more ragged town that looks like it's leapt out of Assassin's Creed III. Finally there's Nassau, a base that many pirates call home.

Being an Assassin's Creed game, there's plenty of historical characters interwoven into the plot. There's Calico Jack, Anne Bonny and Charles Vane - and yes, of course, there's Blackbeard, the infamous pirate heading up the CG trailer that helped reveal the game.

And being an Assassin's Creed game, there's a whole world of systems to get lost in. Your ship, the Jackdaw, can be upgraded. You can recruit a crew, who can be used to board other ships you encounter on the high seas. Be careful, though - get too reckless and you can lose some of them for good.

There's plenty more to find out about Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag in the run-up to its release later this year - a release that will, excitingly, extend to the PlayStation 4 as well as, it's safe to assume, the new Xbox - but even with the bare basics revealed it's hard not to be excited. Assassins plus pirates? Where do we sign up?

SKU: Previews-213257
Release Date: 07/03/2013