In the annals of all video games that are my favorite, the Assassin’s Creed series stands tall as my favorite of favorites. There’s something about the particular combination of fictional history, sneaky action, and secret society intrigue that just pushes all of my buttons. That said, the addition of the naval warfare in ACIII sounded like something tacked on, and I was doubtful that I’d enjoy it. In reality, it ended up being my favorite thing about the game, and the disappointing bit was that there wasn’t enough of it. So, needless to say, when ACIV was announced to be pirate-centric, I was more than excited.
I was also lucky enough to receive a copy of The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag from Titan Books, and let me tell you folks, if Ubisoft has spent half the energy on the gameplay as they did on the art for this game, we are in for a doozy this go around.
The artists purportedly spent much time researching actual pirates to base their fictional versions on, and thusly were able to create a varied cadre of buccaneers. From the fearsome Edward “Blackbeard” Teach to the instantly recognizable (at least as Disney’s probable major influence) Calico Jack, they have managed to imbue each with a singular personality. This even extends downward to the frenetically motion-imbued sketches for the various pirate fodder you will slash and stab your way through.
Though the locales you will be able to visit are many and varied, the bulk of the story is centered on three major Caribbean cities: Havana, Cuba, Kingston, Jamaica, and Nassau, Bahamas. Though similar, the art style leaves each easily distinct from the others, and leave me yearning to explore. Among the many reasons to add this art book to your collection, though, is the inclusion of the sample art for the city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which was sadly cut from the final game. Though its mere existence does leave me hopeful for a voodoo-themed DLC down the road (pretty please, Ubisoft?).
Further images of Mayan temples, fishing villages, shipwrecks, and uncharted islands are nothing short of sumptuous, and should leave you fairly well convinced that the exploration element of this game will be the best of the series. As well, the imposing silhouettes of the pirate and military ships, both on still waters and in the churning tempest of a storm-wracked sea ensure that the naval battles will be nothing short of epic.
Slashing, diving, sailing, backstabbing, and mutineering, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag is in stores now, and this lovely book will sell you on it, if you’re not sold already, and if you are, will allow you a deeper dive into the artistic and creative process that lead to the beauty you may already be witnessing on your screen. Highly recommended for rabid fans. Yo Ho, me hearties, Yo Ho!