Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Ashraf Ismail’s Pirates!

My heart was plundered by Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: December 10, 2013
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Way (way) back in elementary school one of our favorite games in recess was a very interpretive version of “War” where kids would break up into two teams and run off to one side of the playground or the other. Our school happened to have a small lightly wooded area in the back that at various times served as Normandy, Mars or even Hastings once we got into more advanced history lessons. The rules were pretty simple and most wars were limited to the 10 or so minutes we had left in recess after getting set up. Still, there was plenty of glory and plenty of agony in those little recreations.


Then one day in fourth grade we realized there were battles that were way cooler than army guys. We discovered two things that changed everything. Pirates and Ninjas. Sure, in most mythos those two parties never really crossed each other, but in our world they were two sides battling for the right to be the coolest bad guys in the universe. For my part I was a man of the sea and usually joined with the pirates, but I can’t say the silent allure of the ninja didn’t occasionally grip my soul. Both sides had rich traditions seeped in really cool moves and a general attitude of being “the shit” which my 11 year old self could really appreciate.

Pirates and Ninjas never really seemed to come together after those magical days at recess. Sure, there was a brief flash of internet zeitgeist around the Pirate vs. Ninja inanity, but until Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag I don’t think anyone had really broached the idea of a Ninja Pirate.

Technically our protagonist Edward Kenway is a pirate who happens to fall in with some assassin’s, but it isn’t out of like to call him a Pirate Ninja. You may not have realized this before, but that’s a role you’ve been waiting to play your entire life. Edward is a new character in this universe, and for once he’s a guy who gets to where he got without much pretense at all. Edward is trying to catch a braek as part of a privateering crew patrolling the Caribbean when a ship battle gone wrong causes him to end up shipwrecked with a devious assassin who’s involved in a bit of treachery. Kenway manages to dispatch the assassin and with nothing else to do decides to go all Don Draper and steal the guys identity and continue on his assignation.

Without revealing too much, our bold Mr. Kenway soon finds himself in over his head and wrapped up in the age-old conflict between the Templars and the Assassins. Soon he’s hopping from island to island looking for artifacts and ending the lives of anyone foolish enough to get in his way. As one might expect from this series that path will cross a number of familiar names throughout history and we’ll learn that Edward might have had a hand in a few famous incidents that he never seemed to get credit for in our texts.

At this point I think it is key to note that I have somewhat limited experience with this series. I played about halfway through the original game before getting bored with the lack of variety (although I appreciated that the flow was always you building your way up to a major assassination). When the second game came out I didn’t embrace it like others had, but eventually I played about halfway through THAT one before getting distracted by other games. I definitely liked what I played, but I also lamented how the “Assassin” part seemed to have been lost. After that I barely touched Brotherhood (just checked out MP) and haven’t touched the series since. While I haven’t played, I’ve certainly kept up with the series and the addition of the naval combat in III piqued my interest, but not enough to dive back into the series.

Then the PlayStation 4 released with a handful of games, including what was being considered the definitive version of AC4 and before long I figured I would just have to try it. Thirty-plus hours later and I’m still loving my time in this game, in a large part because I’ve kept my distance from the series the last few years.
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