Breaking with series convention, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag steps back in time instead of forward, filling in the gap between Assassin's Creed III and II. You play as Edward Kenway, a privateer turned assassin caught in a dastardly plan of betrayal.
Fluid mechanics: Assassin's Creed IV benefits from the work of its predecessors, evident in the game's much refined mechanics. Controlling the assassin, Edward, as he trudges through jungle, climbs trees, or dashes across the rooftops has never felt more natural.
Pirate mode: The naval battles of Assassin's Creed III are now a full-blown part of Assassin's Creed IV -- an interesting and welcome addition to the series. It's some of the best naval engagement of any action game.
Convoluted story: Assassin's Creed IV continues the series' tradition of posing more questions than it answers. Without giving away any spoilers, Assassin's Creed IV's story feels distracted and lacks a well-guided central narration.
Repetitive gameplay: Eavesdropping missions, chase sequences, and tracking quests: Assassin's Creed IV has all of the series' classic game mechanics. But in between naval battles, you spend the majority of the game doing some mindless combination of the above missions, until your hands are sore.
Assassin's Creed IV is fun -- after all, it's an action game with pirates -- but it can get repetitive. The naval battles are a welcome break from the core gameplay. While Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has the hallmarks of the series, it lacks the narrative depth and draw of its predecessors.