As an AC fan I was recently asked about my opinion on ACBF and it caused me to undertake some deep consideration.
ACBF is the 6th game in the Assassin's Creed series.
Assassin's Creed became one of my favourite games from the moment I started playing it - it seemed different to anything that had gone before. AC2 and ACB took things to new heights, ACR added a little more to the game play with new climbing and rope sliding equipment - all of which was abandoned by AC3.
It is made clear from the start that Edward Kenway is nothing to do with the Assassin's order and the Creed means nothing to him - our "hero" in this outing is a pirate who kills an assassin-on-a-mission and steals his clothes and equipment. The only reason he performs any of the side "assassin" missions is for the money. So the "honour" of Ezio has now been thrown out of the window - though to be honest it was predominately abandoned with AC3.
Edward Kenway is the father of Haytham Kenway and grandfather of Connor Kenway (AC3). Edward, thankfully, has more personality than his grandson ... and here comes the first issue - as you roam around Abstergo in-between your animus runs as the "Pirate of the Caribbean" you will hack some computers (may I say at this point how much I really, really hate "frogger") and the makers seem to have taken these side missions as an opportunity to take a slap at the players who found Connor stiff and characterless. Here the "people of Abstergo" call him "stoic" and openly state that the only players that would like Connor are those who are "intelligent"! Way to insult the fans.
I didn't like Connor because he had no personality and that was probably down to lack of development and bad voice acting from the permanently emotionless Noah Watts.
In ACBF the voice acting is much better: Matt Ryan, who voices Edward Kenway, adds some missing zing to the character of Edward which was missing with Connor in AC3.
As with previous AC games you meet real historical figures like Edward "Blackbeard" Teach/Thatch/Thatcher (voiced by Mark Bonnar), Benjamin Hornigold (Ed Stoppard), Bartholomew Roberts (Oliver Milburn), Mary Read (Olivia Morgan), Anne Bonney (Sarah Greene), "Calico" Jack Rackham (OT Fagbenle), etc, along with the return of the overtly sarcastic Shaun Hastings (Danny Wallace), Rebecca Crane (Eliza Jane Schneider), Juno (Nadia Verrucci) and Desmond Miles in voice only (Nolan North).
Here we discover what happened after Desmond when he touched the pedestal in Temple and after.
I had pre-ordered ACBF (something which I have done with all the AC series since I played Altair in the first one) but I did something with this AC game that I have never done with any of the others, even AC3 ... I stopped playing and put in a different game.
I started to play the game again as I wanted to finish the story before the next one comes out.
As the captain of the ship Jackdaw, you are required to pilot it from one place to another and some of the destinations are quite far apart.
Okay, so long sea voyages can be interrupted by jumping ship and going after some treasure or animus pieces on tiny bits of sandbank/island, and this can become irritating as you have to let go of the wheel, jump over board, swim to the island/sandbank, grab the goodies, enter the water, swim back, climb aboard and take the wheel again. Doing that over and over for the odd titbit is irritating. It was different when it was Ezio scaling the rooftops and free-running and jumping because that was fun and you were doing something other than standing by a ships wheel watching the sea passing by.
Later on in the game there is the possibility of hunting the odd shark or whale, but even this can become tedious and it takes a long time to get the "rights" to whale/shark hunt.
You receive sleeping darts and berserk darts near the beginning but only get the rope darts very near to the end, far too close to the end to have any real fun with it.
I am one of those people who plays the entire thing - all the side missions, chests, animus pieces, etc, but here it was more than a chore.
There are community challenges but do what you get for completing your percentage of the community challenge. Nothing.
What do you get for collecting all those animus particles - from what I can see ... nothing.
What do you get for collecting all those chests - nothing.
In fact, from what I can see, you get very little in respect of rewards for completing any of the side games.
Yes, you get a cheats menu option but that isn't something that I look for in a game. If I wanted to play with a cheater I'd play with a certain relative (the one who learnt the answers to Trivial Pursuit, who always managed to have extra 500 Monopoly money bills in her stack, who added an extra 20% tax to all her land-on-property fines, who built hotels without having to build houses first, whose counter went up the ladders and the snakes even when it landed on them halfway up, the one who changed the rules to every board game to favour her, etc).
In order to play the "fleet" games you have to be online all the time and connected to "Uplay" - the problem is that "Uplay" goes offline quite a bit - so then what do we do - and why should we have to be online to play the "fleet"? We didn't have to do that when we created our own brotherhood of assassins in ACB, ACR or AC3.
To be honest it looks like they peaked with Brotherhood.
Mind you it is just like AC3 where they built it up so much beforehand that the result when I played was disappointing. They decided to make a sea based one when fans were telling them that the best thing about AC3 was the sea side games. When the side game is more interesting than the main game it should tell you that the direction that you are moving the main game in isn't right and not that the fans want a battleships game. It makes me wonder if I wrote in and said I like zombie games that maybe they would make a zombie Assassin or zombie Templars.
What I would like is a return to the code of the Creed, but I'm probably hoping in vain.
Yes, it's nice not to have a lot of load points (not that there were that many in the previous AC games) - now limited to only a handful (just the odd major port like Jamaica - but the open sea, with its sail to here and sail to there (until you are finally allowed to use the fast travel points) is as monotonous as Connor running through the undergrowth in the countryside between New York and Boston.
Since this arrived I have played other games over again (including AC2 and ACB at least twice each, Resident Evil 4 and 6, COD Ghosts and Dishonored) and I had to force myself to put this game in the machine and finish it (so that I am up with the story).
It's a shame as the voice acting on this is so much better than AC3 and the pirate era should have been fascinating in the same way that the Renaissance one was, but it wasn't. Sailing everywhere is tiresome and, after the first few, the islands all start to look the same and yet it is still miles better then AC3 but poorer when compared to AC2 and especially ACB.
As with all the AC games the backgrounds are amazingly detailed - the water is very repetitive though.
I am not sure whether or not I would advise a friend to invest in ACBF because I'm sort of "meh" about it. I don't "hate it" and yet I don't really "love it", and it is better than AC3 so I guess that would make it 4 star "it's ok"/"like it" for me. There are only so many sea battles and shark/whale hunts you can go on before it becomes mind-numbing, and when I finally reached the end I literally sat there and said (out loud) "is that it". Never a good sign.
The other thing that has started to grind my gears is the money grabbing use of DLC. I have nothing against DLC bonuses for preorders or for those buying a more expensive edition, but only when that edition is available universally and not just in the USA or Japan. I didn't buy DLC with AC3 and I doubt I will do it with this, especially as I have been told that the first one lasts less than 5 minutes of play time.
I have noted a lack of AC information about another one though they do say it is in the works and should be out for the end of the year. I am hoping that it will be an improvement on these last 2 and give us the magnificence of gaming that we were used to and had come to expect. I would also like side missions with proper in-game rewards and the ability to upgrade again. Well, I can hope can't I?
If you have played the others then I would recommend playing this if only for the story.
*** UPDATE ***
- just announced that the next game AC:Unity (set in revolutionary France) will be PS4 only, I really do hope that they change their minds as there are many people who will be unable to afford the upgrade at the current price of £400-500.