ASSASSIN'S CREED has been one of this console generation's most successful and popular franchises. For this reason, it's unsurprising that Ubisoft has chosen to send the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 off with a bang by releasing one the most ambitious and interesting entries into the iconic series to date.
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag jumps away from the events of Assassin's Creed 3, which told the story of Connor Kenway and his noble part in the American revolution, to tell the tale of the slightly less noble 18th century privateer Edward Kenway.
The jump in setting informs almost every part of the Assassin's Creed 4 and is interesting as it adds a shades of grey political element. Where previous titles like Assassin's Creed 3 had clearly good and bad guys, with the evil English representing the fascistic Templars and the freedom fighting Yankees the good-guy Assassins, Assassin's Creed 4 has a variety of political players that are not necessarily good or bad.
In Assassin's Creed 4 every nation is wrestling for control of the Caribbean trade routes and colonies and is less involved in the larger Templars vs Assassins war. Assassin's Creed 4's morally grey nature is further reflected in its Welsh protagonist Edward, who as a privateer is himself a fairly salty character and is often shown to have a far more ruthless side than many of the series' previous leading men.
The setting also heavily informs Assassin's Creed 4's gameplay, which is split between traditional land and shipboard segments. The sailing feature is a development of the gameplay added in Assassin's Creed 3 and is one of Black Flag's most entertaining additions. As a privateer, Edward captains his own ship. The vessel can be used both as a means of transport between the game's central Havana, Nassau and Kingston locations and for general piracy.
Navigating the ship is fairly simple. Edward can take control of his ship simply by walking up to the steering wheel and clicking activate. The ship is then turned using the left and right thumbsticks (as reviewed on the Xbox 360). The ship has three speed options - slow, fast and travel - which can be switched using the A button.