Today is the biggest gaming Tuesday of the year. Tons of good stuff hits shelves today, including the fourth major entries in both the Battlefield and Assassin's Creed franchises. Dan already made the case for purchasing Battlefield 4, and reviews don't necessarily disagree with him, but Assassin's Creed IV might be even more worthy of your $60. Why? Well...
It Fixes A Lot of What Was Wrong With Assassin's Creed III
Assassin's Creed III wasn't a terrible game, but it was badly disjointed -- the game's main story was divided into tiny postage stamp-sized bits of gameplay, and the whole experience was riddled with lengthy loading screens. Assassin's Creed IV has been designed from the ground up to be more seamless.
Ubisoft has lifted a trick from Nintendo's Wind Waker for ACIV -- the game loads new areas as you're sailing, meaning you can transfer from your ship to an island or town seamlessly without aggravating loading screens. The game has also, in a welcome move, drastically cut down on the talky cutscenes.
It Greatly Expands Upon The One Part Of Assassin's Creed III That Really Did Work
We can all agree that the best part of Assassin's Creed III was the ship stuff, right? Well, Assassin's Creed IV takes Assassin's Creed III's naval battles and runs with them. You get new weapons, the ability to seamlessly board and loot any ship you've defeated, and that beautiful ocean you're cruising over? You can stop at any time and go diving under its surface for treasure. Oh, and you can harpoon whales to your black heart's content. Take that PETA!
It Fixes Some Stuff That's Been Wrong Since The Very Beginning
Even though the Assassin's Creed games are all about dudes who sneak around stabbing guys in the back, the series' stealth game has always been pretty weak. Actually, that's kind of putting it nicely. Thankfully Ubisoft has finally gone out of their way to fix some of Assassin's Creed's longstanding annoyances. Trying to play the game in a stealthy way instead of just bursting in wrist-knives a-flailing won't make you want to tear your hair out this time around. Also, for the first time in an Assassin's Creed game -- a simple, usuable fast-travel system!
The Modern Day Stuff Is Skippable
What started out as an interesting twist -- everything that happened the Assassin's Creed games were actually the "ancestral memories" of a guy from 2012 -- soon became an anchor around the series' neck. The story of Desmond Miles quickly become hopelessly convoluted, and the modern missions were rarely as fun as the historical stuff.
Well, Assassin's Creed IV will once again feature a modern day component, but this time around Ubisoft is starting fresh. The present day stuff will feature a new protagonist (a low level employee of the villainous Abstergo Corporation) and will be mostly skippable. Basically, if you're still into the whole Assassins vs. Templars thing, the present day portion of ACIV will provide a lot of interesting background details, but if you're not you can stick to the buccaneering and shark stabbing.
It's About Pirates!
Pirates, of course, make almost everything better, but aside from just being generally rad, the focus on swashbuckling means Assassin's Creed IV is a lot more lighthearted than some past Assassin's games. Assassin's Creed III in particular was often weighed down by the fact its story was tied to a bloody, historically important war. All too often the game felt like a trip back to middle school history class. Assassin's Creed IV will also be historically accurate, but that's okay when you're focusing on a particularly badass (and let's face it, kind of silly) slice of history like the Golden Age of Piracy.
It Will Last You Until Christmas
It seems like a lot of developers are eager to move on to next-gen projects and are sort of cheating on length when it comes to their final current-gen games. Batman: Arkham Origins is only around eight hours long for instance. Battlefield 4 and the upcoming Call of Duty will probably be even shorter. Assassin's Creed IV on the other hand, is a meaty adventure -- by all accounts it will take you a good 20 - 30 hours to "beat" the game and two-to-three times that long to collect everything.
So there you have it -- Assassin's Creed IV is one of the most polished, fundementally sound games in the series. And it's got pirates! So, what game are you planning to pick up after work today?