Pirates are known for being murderous, uncouth and apparently stealthy, if this latest gameplay preview for the upcoming Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is any indication.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is the latest sequel in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed franchise, and as a result, you should already have some idea of what you'll be getting with the game. There will be parkour, there will be impressive acrobatic feats, and most crucially, there will be plenty of people getting their lungs punctured via hidden wrist blades. As the newly-released gameplay walkthrough embedded at top-right demonstrates, the game also fleshes out the series' de rigueur stealth mechanics, seemingly making them more fluid, and almost guaranteeing that they'll play a larger role in Black Flag than they had in previous installments.
So, what do we see here that we like? Obviously the game looks attractive, and we appreciate the detail with which Ubisoft has rendered the city of Havana - it's reminiscent of the urban sprawl found in the underloved, Vita-exclusive Assassin's Creed III: Liberation - but most impressive is how fluid the game's protagonist appears to be in motion. Each of the Assassin's Creed games have centered on lithe, agile characters, and Ubisoft continually improves in its ability to recreate that ideal in pixelated form.
Less impressive is the feeling of "been there, done that," that this trailer radiates. Yes, it's a new locale, new characters and a new story, but how many times can we clamber up walls, punch daggers through some jerk's spine and leap into conveniently-place hay bales before it loses all novelty?
Then again, forget what I just said. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag will make beaucoups cash based purely on name recognition, and it's obvious that Ubisoft is aiming squarely for "cash" over "artistic expression." There's nothing wrong with this, as long as we recognize that the Assassin's Creed series has become the gaming equivalent of endlessly sequelized summer blockbuster films, and that we'll be seeing new entries until the fountain of money generated by devoted fans runs dry. The only real question now is whether any of us will live long enough to see that happen.