I was however surprised by how long this game took me to finish. I spent at least 40-60 hours on it, and got every Animus fragment, chest, side quest, contract, hunt, and all of the DLC. It took me the whole year so far to complete it in my free time, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that I would want to spend that much time in such a beautiful world. Truly, it was a pirate's life for me.
So here are my thoughts about the game:
- This world was epic. It's so beautiful that it's hard to describe, and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect paradise to run around in and play pretend. Everything about the Caribbean landscape was so captivate, and the small details like the sun, moon, stars, and weather patterns made it that much more believable. Even the underwater areas were alluring and full of wonderfully dangerous sights to see. Kudos to all of the people that helped bring these islands to life.
- Edward Kenway was an awesome protagonist. I loved everything about him, and enjoyed watching his story unfold. A sobering tale for sure, but full of intrigue and emotion. I loved the fact that he was from Great Britain and the first light-haired assassin. I thought that was cool, and it set him apart visually. Of course being half English myself, it was a fun way to relate to the character.
- All of the different outfits that Edward could wear were pretty cool. Other than his traditional outfit (which I liked best, and kept him in the most), I did really like the red Captain Morgan outfit. I thought that it was funny to watch him run around in something so pompous. It reminded me of Captain Hook too.
- The interface and graphic design in this game were fantastic. I loved the streamlined, minimalistic turquoise theme, and it was very easy to navigate through the menus to find things.
- The animations, textures, and main character models were all very well done. Their movements were really believable, and they looked great. Animation is something that lacks in a lot of modern games, and ends up looking stiff. This game definitely does a decent job in this regard.
- The colors in this game were beyond description. A desaturated primary palette, which was reflected in the costumes, cities, and even Edward's brig the Jackdaw, was married with neon splashes of the same scheme within the world. This helped characters, buildings, and props pop against the lush tropical backdrop, but still stayed consistent within the art direction. It was gorgeous, and well thought out.
- I got to own a pirate cove! I'll say that again: I got a PIRATE COVE! At the beginning of the game Edward claims Great Inagua for his own, and it's awesome. This made me so incredibly happy that I spent hours just hanging out and exploring. I wish that I could live in a place like that. Palms, white sands, a ship on a private dock, and that horizon...ah, it really was perfect.
- I couldn't play a pirate game without some pirate rum! Arrgh! I had actually been saving some aged Barceló Añejo Ron Superior for an occasion such as this, and my, was it fun to join Edward in his tavern drinking. It gave the experience that much more authenticity.
- Seeing all of the historical pirates in this game was awesome. The two ladies, Mary Read and Anne Bonny, being my absolute favorites. When I was little I was fascinated by real pirates, so it was great to spend time with them all virtually.
- I'm not sure if this was an intended reference, but it put a smile on my face nonetheless: In real life the pirate Bartholomew Roberts was third mate to a ship called the Princess, and this is the same pirate that the Dread Pirate Roberts is inspired by in The Princess Bride. So when Roberts showed up in game, I was reminded of this and it made me happy (it was short-lived though, because the Princess was a real slave ship and that reminded me of the cruel reality of these themes).
- The sea shanties were a fun bit of content. I really loved hearing all of the songs, and they were all equally enjoyable. Although fun to listen to, some of them were annoying to chase. After awhile I learned that I could just camp them, and I automatically collected them when they reappeared. Hey, I was playin' like a true pirate exploiting the shortcuts.
- Petting and interacting with animals was a favorite pastime of mine in this game. They were so well done, and the little animations made me smile. The bobbing red macaw was definitely my favorite and made me squeal with laughter every time I pet it. A sad note though was that I accidentally shot a cute sea turtle at point blank. I was so traumatized by that, and I didn't know that I could kill it. I think I was fighting, and it died instead of the person I was shooting. Poor thing, I typically didn't have bad aim.
- The treasure maps were a favorite of mine. I absolutely loved that they put them in, and of course, no pirate game would be complete without red x's marking the spot where buried treasure lies in wait. It was cool!
- It took me some time to warm up to the storybook type of gameplay. I'm use to more traditional action games where one can interact with everything. So some of the gameplay came off as a bit stiff and sticky. There were plenty of times that I would jump onto something that I wasn't suppose to or thought that I could interact with objects that I could not. I wish that I could lift or smash environmental things in the game more often. Going inside of more buildings would have been neat as well. Like breaking in or something.
- I typically don't like stealth games, and this was my first Assassin's Creed. I was the "go in guns a blazing" type of pirate, and that got me into a lot of trouble. Redoing missions was inevitable (eavesdropping was the worst by far), and it got me angry. I was cursing like a true sailor during most of them!
- From an art standpoint the character skin shaders did look a bit plasticy. This is a typical problem for modern games, and I understand that skin is very tough, but it would have been awesome if it matched all of the other high-end assets that the studio produced.
- Unfortunately, I had no interest in the Astergo parts. The story was intriguing enough, but not necessary. I know that they were just trying to tie the other games of the series in, but it felt contrived. There was talk that this game could have been an opportunity for a new IP and that definitely would have been cool, but they didn't want to risk that. Oh well, it was still good and the assassin storyline was fun enough. The office mini games on the other hand were torturous and not so appealing.
- The biggest issue with this game was that it was buggy. There were quite a few times that my progress didn't save properly and I had to redo a lot. Even small things like treasure chests (not loot) reappearing even though I knew that I had found them already. Falling and not being able to get out of geometry was another issue. Then at one point I even had my swords disappear from my character, and in the menu, when I was in the middle of a random fight. That was weird, and I had to go to a store to reequip them. I understand that these games take a lot of time, effort, and money to produce, but some of the bugs should have been patched even if it was after launch. Especially the saving issues, and I was surprised that those are still there.
So the positives completely outweigh the negatives for this one. Besides, if you have more gaming patience than me, most of the cons might not even be an issue. That being said, definitely play this game. There's loads of pirate fun to be had.