Hey, do you remember how much fun the boat bits were in Assassin's Creed III? Well, the makers of the game sure do, and have planted them all over the place in this sequel. Although it makes sense, since this time around you're playing a pirate ancestor of the modern day Desmond, who may or may not actually be a part of the overly convoluted Knight's Templar plot from the series. Which actually gets even more complicated since ACIV's modern day part takes place after ACIII's, but it's historical section takes place before. But don't worry too much about that, because the game doesn't either.
No, this is all about the stealth kills, the free-runnings through the jungles and the towns, the jumping off the perches, all the good stuff that the fans of games have loved so much. The visuals are the best the series has had, and is one of the prettiest games of 2013. There's also a much alleviated tone to the entire affair, not bogged down with trying to make such a silly story so po-faced.
Not the Black Flag hasn't held on to some of the series more annoying habits, like the endless "following" missions, and when compared to the amount of fun you can have when you're just freestyling it through the absolutely huge world, the main story and missions are a bit dull and disappointing.
But these are small prices to pay for what is one of the most thoroughly entertaining games of the year. There are so many side-missions and collectibles to find, that you could still be going at this after thirty or forty hours of play-time and be discovering new nooks and crannies.
Is the concept getting a little stale by now? Well, yes and no. With a new AC game out almost every year, and not enough of a difference (aside from the settings) to tell them apart, it might be wise to take a break and come back with something completely different. But Ubisoft have a money-making machine here, and rightly so, as the series is consistently great, with Black Flag one of the best in the franchise to date.
Presentation: 5 out of 5
Gameplay: 4 out of 5
Replay: 3 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: X-Box 360 (Review copy), PS3, Wii U, PC, (X-Box One and PS4 versions coming soon)
Genre: Action-Adventure, Stealth