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Man, what is it today with crappy videos of highly anticipated games? Or is it crappy gameplay in videos of highly anticipated games? Either way, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag joins Killzone: Shadow Fall in the media marketing room that reads “How not to promote your game”.
The video is still from Magic Box, who took the opportunity to capture solid gameplay from the showfloor of Igromir from Moscow, Russia. The video contains live gameplay footage from Black Flag running on a PC and, graphics aside, the game does not hold up so well.
So there are a couple of things that really stand out. First of all, the puppeteer combat camera has been lowered and zoomed in. I don't know if I like that change or not or if the player demoing the game decided to bring the action in close, but the combat feels a lot more personal. As long as this feature is an option then it's cool, because for one-on-one bouts a nice zoomed in camera gives you that visceral feeling of kill or be killed. The zoomed out, overseer view is good for fighting multiple enemies who have you surrounded, and despite the AI never being all that great, the puppeteer combat mechanics was pretty slick and at least it looked really cinematic and very well done.
The fighting animations are still all right... I notice it's a lot less smooth than what was featured in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed III, but again, could have been the way the one guy was playing. That's not to mention that maybe the PC version being demoed at Igromir was from a build several months, before polishing... maybe?
There are two crimes, however, far worse than the animations and camera work, and it's with the AI and the health regeneration. So most people already know that Assassin's Creed games are extremely easy. There's hardly any challenge to them, but one of the things that really took me by surprise was the fact that Ubisoft made Black Flag even EASIER. While in Assassin's Creed III they made the health regen more accessible by allowing players to regain health by killing enemies, in Black Flag they've taken it a step further by making it where players don't have to do anything to regain their life: no potions, no killing. You just stand there and you get your life back.
While some people will delight in the opportunity to bypass any meta-blockades for difficulty, which would include having to stop and heal or fetch out a doctor for supplies, this COD-style health regen really does remove a lot of the challenge from the game, similar to Resident Evil 6, as you'll no longer need to worry about your life... at all.
An even bigger crime than regenerating health (although, that really is a cake topper) is the AI. While Assassin's Creed games have never been known for having sparkling AI, this video showcases enemies who literally just stand around. They barely attack the player and they hardly ever do any sort of damage at all. Worse yet, while the player is attacking the NPCs they don't even react... they just stand there. Is this for real?
This is a sad day for a game on display for the PC Master Race.
On the upside, perhaps there's a caveat regarding this demo: this could be an old build. Hopefully, we can take some form of solace in believing that Ubisoft's Igromir demo was old and that the final build will be a lot more polished when it launches for home consoles and PC in November.