GamingReview: Assassin’s Creed IV: Freedom Cry

Review: Assassin’s Creed IV: Freedom Cry

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If after your potentially countless hours of exploration and piracy on Black Flag you still feel the need for some extra Assassin’s goodness Ubisoft has you covered. The Freedom Cry DLC adds a few more hours of violence and story telling following Edward Kenway’s temping right hand man, Adewale.

But rather than concerning itself with plundering and exploring the massive amount of hidden treasures that Black Flag has to offer, or really anything to do with Assassins (or Templars was it?), Freedom Cry is a much more narrative driven experience. Adewale’s chief concern being to free slaves and generally make life miserable for their tyrannous captors. And when it comes to either of these tasks Adewale is certainly more than able.

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He trades swords for a single giant machete and multiple pistols for a shotgun-like blunderbuss. It’s nice to have some new weapons to play with and though there are only a couple of upgrades to each they are well thought out given Freedom Cry’s 5 or 6 hour length. There’s certainly a raw brutality fighting with the machete that resonates with Adewale’s story and the plight of the slaves.

Right from the start it’s clear that Ubisoft aren’t scared about telling a story and making you uncomfortable at times if it helps sell the story. When dealing with issues such as slavery it’s all too easy to be presented with a diluted and relatively friendly version of the horrors that where carried out. Especially where video games are concerned. But there are some truly horrific moments in Freedom Cry and I never felt like the story was held back or censored.

Whilst walking around Port-au-Prince there are various mini objectives and side missions for you to accomplish and free as many captives as possible. It’s difficult not to intervene and put a stop to whatever injustice you see before you. It’s also difficult not to feel just a little bit like a very violent machete wielding batman when you air assassinate a jailor or guard. And when you’re done your newly freed friends will happily join the ranks of the freedom fighters that slowly gather and grow in number in hiding below the city.

Unfortunately they only really serve as a way to unlock new weapons and equipment for Adewale and as a numerical counter to keep track of your vigilante-ing. It does slightly diminish the good deeds you perform that ultimately these newly free men become ‘just numbers’. But as far as the game’s mechanics are concerned it works fine and despite the fact you will need no incentive whatsoever to help captives unlocking new stuff always helps.

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There is definitely a reduction in the amount of sea faring objectives and I found myself spending almost no time at all at sea. Given Freedom Cry’s time frame unless you plan on spending time getting the upgrades just for the fun of it, which is certainly worth considering, it’s likely you won’t have much time to progress the ship far anyway. But Freedom Cry is refreshingly combat heavy so if you fancy a fight, running around freeing people will actually get you somewhere.

Some of the missions however didn’t benefit from the combat. Like the final assassination in the last missions where my target ran at me and before I even realised it I had relieved him of his head with an axe. Other than that you will be tailing people and listening in on conversations. I know I’ve said it in all my Assassin’s Creed IV reviews but it’s getting to be beyond a joke now. To be honest I stopped laughing halfway through Black Flag’s main game.

Even the DLC with a fair few changes to fundamentals still makes its bread and butter following people and listening to them. I cannot believe that Ubisoft doesn’t have more creative minds than this. In fact I know they do. Some new objectives would be nice! And the first time you tail someone, having to stay no more than 20 or so metres away and ensuring a clear line of sight, past a guard that essentially acts as a moving restricted zone you will have some real fun. There where also a couple of bugs in some of my objectives, like targets not spawning or markers being placed in impossible to reach locations but I may just have been unlucky.

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All things considered Freedom Cry is a great bit of DLC that extends your AC IV experience in a surprisingly meaningful and poignant way. It’s nice to see no compromises or pulled punches when dealing with such a heavy topic. Unfortunately objectives are still more or less the same two or three tasks repeated, but just for less time.

Also a lot of the freedom of Black Flag is lost but given the time frame and inevitable limitations in scope for a DLC it never really becomes a problem. And the maps you play on feel full and certainly don’t lack in detail or feel inferior to their Black Flag counterparts. All in all a great bit of DLC that nicely extends Black Flag and tells a good tale while it’s at it.

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Reviewed on PS4.

phillvine
phillvine
Phill has been the director of a small IT repair business since 2011 which he runs alongside studying for his degree in Information and Communication Technologies at the Open University. Video games are his real passion and they take up more of his time than he'd like to admit.

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