Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry Review - Not From Concentrate

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Freedom is a concept that is hard to truly grasp. Who are we to say that we are truly free when everything around us is mandated and controlled? How are we to truly feel freed from the shackles of our day to day lives if the routines we find ourselves in are the chains that hold us back? It may sound like I’m telling you to quit your day job and go live in a jungle somewhere, fashioning clothes from leaves and twine, and while that may be what I’m saying, I wouldn’t advise it. I will say that a similar approach seemed to work quite well for Adéwalé in Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry, the recently released DLC adventure for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Adéwalé’s character took a backseat role in the main story of Assassin’s Creed IV, as Edward’s first mate, and I never really felt like I got to know him, even though he stood beside me on all our adventures at sea. In Freedom Cry, he is now the main character in a story about slavery, about corruption, and ultimately about the price of freedom.

Story
I loved Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but even though the game was incredibly fun and the story was exciting, Edward never really felt like a deep character to me. I was never felt attached to him, despite the fact that I enjoyed his recklessness, and his desire for gold and fame. Just like his motivations, he felt shallow. Ultimately I thoroughly enjoyed his story, but the first mate takes the cake here in Freedom Cry.

Adéwalé comes across almost immediately as a more interesting character than Edward. In the opening moments of the DLC, you find yourself locked in a ship battle and shortly thereafter, stranded on an island in the West Indies. From the moment he begins to speak, Adéwalé’s incredibly well acted character immediately shows a depth and mystery that Edward never had. His educated manner of speaking and his baritone vocals both combine to bring forward a character who has seen more than we can possibly imagine. The skin on his chest, revealed beneath his assassin uniform is scarred, much like he is, from the trials of his life.

Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom CryNo Templars are to be found in this adventure, as Adéwalé spends his time separated from the iconic order. This honestly didn’t bother me though, because it made the entire experience far more personal which I appreciated. It was more about the human factor, and the story benefited from this approach.

This depth extends into the story, where you help to bolster a resistance against the corrupt governor of Port-au-Prince. As you move through the streets, you see all around you the signs of the time. Slaves are herded back and forth, sold on makeshift stands to a crowd of people, and beaten in the shadows. Adéwalé’s character is one of conviction. He seeks the greater good and the freedom of his people. His motivations are pure, and his story is deep and emotion. The story here is short, but it’s a powerful tale, one that we’ve never seen from the series thus far. This alone makes the DLC a worthy purchase.

Gameplay
Adéwalé feels exactly like Edward at first, which is to say like every assassin ever. That being said, shortly into the DLC you acquire several unique weapons. Namely the machete, and the blunderbuss. These items are both unique and Adéwalé wields them with fierce precision. His kill animations are calculated and brutal. This story takes place fifteen years after the events of Black Flag, and it shows in the accuracy and intensity of Adéwalé’s attacks. He is experienced, and comes across as a more capable assassin than most have shown themselves to be in the series. The navigation and controls are all standard from the previous game.

One of my favorite new additions is the liberation mechanic. As you move through the city, you’ll encounter slaves in various forms of torture or capture. The game doesn’t force you to do anything about it, but you feel an instant need to help. See, unlike other side missions or activities in past Assassin’s Creed games, these give you the opportunity to save a human life. They are far more compelling, and far more satisfying as a result. There are also several types so you’ll never feel like you’re always doing the same thing.

Another method of this mechanic is that the main missions unfold based on you meeting certain requirements. This also is true of the upgrades. The more slaves you free, the more upgrades you unlock, and story missions are locked until you meet certain requirements. Some may say that his artificially extends the short experience, but I say that it gives the player a sense of duty and instills that desire to help their fellow man.

Beyond these improvements, the game still suffers from occasional glitches and some awkward jumps where you explicitly told him to do something different. It’s not perfect, and while the world is open, it’s smaller than the one in Black Flag, which is to be expected. I appreciated all the new side mission opportunities, and the world is big enough to feel open, but it doesn’t offer the level of freedom we saw in Black Flag.

Presentation
Playing this on PS4 is stunning. I’m not completely certain but I firmly believe that this game looks even better than AC4 did, and that’s saying something. Colors pop, textures are detailed and crisp, and the frame rate is smoother than ever. Small additions like African American folk music, and orchestral pieces during naval battles make for a different experience that I honestly prefer. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sea shanties, but the beautiful orchestral music during naval travels really sets the mood for me.

The Final Verdict
Freedom Cry is a short, but powerful experience. It can be finished in about five hours, but it is well worth the ten dollars. Adéwalé’s story is one of the best I’ve ever seen from this series and his character is incredibly well realized. This DLC breaks new ground and I hope they continue to follow this idea. In fact, let’s see an entire game about this guy, because he deserves it.


Game Tips for Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry

You have spoken dear readers, and we have listened. Our Facebook page was ripe with essential tips for making the most out of Freedom Cry, and we're here to bring you those tips, along with a few of our own. Thank you as always for your wisdom and support. Read on to see the best tips for making the most out of Freedom Cry.

Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry Tips #1 - Free slaves when you see them.
You'll come across a large number of slaves in all manner of situation as you explore the city and settlements of Freedom Cry. When you spot these people in need, take a moment to free them. It's never an incredibly involved mission and the number of slaves you have freed will contribute to your available upgrades. Since this is the only way to earn upgrades, and progress the main story, it's better to just free them as you pass by.

Assassin's Creed IV Freedom Cry Tips #2 - When you reach seventy five Maroons, you get free ammo!
When you free slaves in Freedom Cry, some of them will join your cause as Maroons. The number of these freedom fighters you have is what determines what upgrades you have access to. When you reach seventy five of them, all ammo purchases you need to make are free of cost.

Freedom Cry Tips #3 - Keep your blunderbuss loaded at all times.
The blunderbuss, along with the machete are two of the most awesome weapons the series has seen and make great machines of destruction in your adventure through Freedom Cry. The blunderbuss is capable of mowing down three enemies in one shot, but that's just the issue. You can only fire once per shot. Don't forget to reload when you've shot each time as this weapon comes in handy, but the reload time is long.

Golden Machete #4 - Locate the Golden Machete.
One of our contributors was nice enough to provide the location of several legendary weapons. The golden Machete is located in Fort Matias and the coordinates on the map are (276, 402). Obviously you'll want to have some ship upgrades in place to take on the fort, but this should be a priority.


Precision Shooter #5 - Locate the Precision Shooter.
The same contributor also graced us with the location of the Precision shooter. This is the best gun to get without reaching other goals. The next best gun is unlocked after four hundred slaves have been freed and the best gun is only unlocked when you achieve one hundred percent synchronization. It is located in the Cumberland Bay. The coordinates are (176, 374).


Final Score: 8.5/10

Game Category: Action / Adventure

Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 01/14/2014

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