Giant Bomb Review

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Assassin's Creed: Freedom Cry Review

4

It's easy to imagine a big-budget game tackling slavery with the subtlety of a hammer, but Freedom Cry is an emotional triumph...with some ethical issues.

As risk averse as some (most?) big-budget games are, we often see publishers loosening the reins with downloadable content. Ubisoft has shown itself as a publisher willing to take a risk, exemplified by Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and the recent Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry. The latter was just made available completely separate from Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (except on Xbox), and it's crazy more people haven't been talking about it. Freedom Cry represents a AAA publisher trying to make the deplorable, shameful act of slavery both a narrative and mechanical part of a game. It's not without problems, but it's a hell of a try.

Black Flag players have already met the main character of Freedom Cry, Adéwalé. The add-on is set years after the events of Black Flag, but does not remark on them, except for the occasional mention of the main game's protagonist, Edward Kenway. Adéwalé, now an active member of the Assassins brotherhood, intercepts a Templar package. It's unclear what's inside, but it's clearly important, so Adéwalé makes off into a deadly storm with it. Nature tears apart his ship, and he wakes up on the shores of Port-au-Prince. Slavery was mentioned in Black Flag, but it's central to the economy in Port-au-Prince and the nearby islands. Adéwalé becomes involved in the brewing revolution, promising assistance before returning to the Assassins.

Even though Black Flag represented a welcomed return to form for a series that was almost made irrelevant by its third major entry, there was so much to digest. I spent more than 30 hours as a pirate on the high seas, and it's easy to imagine how one could more than double that. So I wouldn't blame anyone for being tired of Black Flag by the credits, especially since Ubisoft is likely to deliver another Assassin's Creed this year. In that regard, Freedom Cry doesn't do much to mix up the formula that's worked so well for the series since finding its footing with Assassins Creed II. On-foot missions are still largely about frustratingly trying to eavesdrop on a group of characters who constantly look behind themselves for no good reason, killing a set of assigned targets, and generally stealthing around. Life at sea has not changed very much, either, but it remains damn fun.

What has changed in Freedom Cry, however, is the context of your actions. The ongoing, mostly tired tug-of-war between the Assassins and Templars is merely window dressing in Freedom Cry, with Adéwalé's central motivation a desire to free his brothers from the shackles he once found himself in. There's a good reason games have largely steered away from the subject of slavery. It's harrowing, personal, and deeply emotional. Even though the Assassin's Creed series is one born of a fantastic premise, one cannot invoke the very real concept of slavery without strict scrutiny alongside it. And this is where Freedom Cry both soars and stumbles.

I could never muster the desire for the optional objectives in Assassin's Creed. It's a feature for completionists, and seemed to encourage player behavior that highlighted the very worst parts of Assassin's Creed gameplay. But I often found myself trying to do everything in Freedom Cry. It's one thing to ask the player to try and air assassinate a target, and quite another to ask them to rescue a group of slaves on the compound you're exploring. This is a fictional experience, but that's a powerful string to tug at. As a player who often errs on the side of helping, it was hard for me to justify not making sure these types of objectives were completed. It not only made sense for the type of character I play as, it perfectly lined up with Adéwalé's deeply personal reasons for action in Freedom Cry. It's not that Freedom Cry completely reinvents the often boring objectives that drive missions in Assassin's Creed, but the contextual reframing gives them a powerful emotional component.

But there are reasons to raise an eyebrow, as well. Rescuing slaves is one of the key gameplay additions in Freedom Cry, and you're constantly reminded of ways you can help. A slave may be trying to escape from their captor, and you can stop the chase. Another group of slaves may be in the process of being sold, and you can step in, buy them, and set them free. Some of them may join the fomenting revolution in Port-au-prince, while others are simply allowed to live their lives. This makes sense, and from the perspective of designing a fulfilling open world, this gives the player regular, meaningful actions to participate in while getting to the next mission. What's questionable is Ubisoft's decision to turn the slaves into a form of in-game currency, a cruelly ironic twist. The more slaves the player frees, the more upgrades available from vendors that support Adéwalé. This generates a horrific disconnect from the very human tragedy the upgrade system pulls from. It's an especially gross feeling to be running around a town square, waiting for slaves to spawn on the map because you're only a few away from unlocking that really sweet machete. (This actually happened.) It's mostly unnecessary, too, as players accrue most of the upgrades simply by engaging with the required mission objectives. That includes rescuing slave ships, which can house nearly 100 captives at once. There's already an in-game currency the player uses to buy stuff, so while it's understandable Ubisoft designers wanted to reward players for engaging in side objectives, it only undermines the seriousness with which the game otherwise treats the subject.

And there are genuine moments of emotional heartbreak where all of these concerns, for the moment, fade away. An especially trying moment involves Adéwalé defying the recommendations of his fellow revolutionaries, and attempts to free a nearby slave ship. It all goes horribly, horribly wrong, and puts the venomous, inhuman contempt of Port-au-Prince's cruel rulers on full display. When you can't save everyone, who do you save? It's a moment in which Freedom Cry poignantly layers the draw of a spectacle that is only possible in a big-budget video game with the subtlety we have come to expect from our best independent productions. One section involves Adéwalé climbing up a wall, the same way a character in Assassin's Creed often does, but what surrounds you is...unforgettable. When the mission was over, I had to set the controller down. I was drained, and Adéwalé's pain was my own. We were both equally seeking blood and revenge.

Freedom Cry is about hope. It's about hope for a people, even if it feels futile and fleeting. You don't solve the problem of slavery in Freedom Cry. The way slaves and plantation owners constantly cycle back into the world, no matter how many you liberate, also works as genuine commentary on the state of slavery at the time. It might just be a way the game keeps the world from becoming empty...but it works. The add-on also gives hope for what's possible when blockbuster-driven creators take risks with material. There are missteps in Freedom Cry, more ethical than mechanical, but it hits as often as it misses. That's undeniably an important step forward.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
130 Comments
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Edited by BBQBram

So the same boring, side-missions that have been getting so much flak the last few years are suddenly excusable because of their historical and ethical framing? That's utterly ridiculous. I also don't need a game review to tell me that slavery was "deplorable and shameless", that speaks for itself doesn't it?

@artisanbreads said:

@forkboy said:


@artisanbreads said:

Oh god moralizing down a review score...

You don't think there's something messed up in that mechanic, treating slaves as currency? Fuck off.

Fuck off hahahaha okay dude.

It's a game where you are liberating slaves... you think they didn't want to make that and instead made a racist game where you make it seem like slaves are free but really, THEY'RE CURRENCY STILL OH GOD!?

No dude, they just made a DLC with a message on top of a game with collection based progression mechanics, and so they kept that in there. They weren't making a whole new game and I'm sure they had a small team and a short deadline. That's all.

But magnify it and make it a huge issue. That was Ubisofts intent I'm sure!

Thissssssssssssssssss. There's really nothing more to it.

Exactly. No-one's going to ponder the "deep implications" of the umpteenth Assassin's Creed collectathon.

Posted by Kbohls

Sounds pretty interesting, if I didn't feel satisfied after my time with ACIV I would have given this a shot.

I also think this represents the correct way to make players think about moral issues. Most indie titles that are lauded for their messages are bad games. It is easy, almost natural, for a game's supporters to put the importance of the message over the quality of the product. I feel this is the real reason people hate the 'walking simulator' genre of indie games - they are flawed products that get so much great press. It appears that Freedom Cry fused complex issues and a game that is just fun to play.

Posted by MonkeyKing1969

I enjoyed AC4, it was teh first of the series I had completed, and I was very glad I slogged through the more "Creedy" bits. I'm willing to take at look at this, its been a few weeks since I finished, so a small dip back in the pool might be worthwhile.

Posted by masterofchaz

FInally getting into ACIV on the PS4. So... much... game... I've always admired the ambition of the series and how it attempts to bring history to life.

Posted by Humanity

@bbqbram said:

So the same boring, side-missions that have been getting so much flak the last few years are suddenly excusable because of their historical and ethical framing? That's utterly ridiculous. I also don't need a game review to tell me that slavery was "deplorable and shameless", that speaks for itself doesn't it?

@development said:

@artisanbreads said:

@forkboy said:


@artisanbreads said:

Oh god moralizing down a review score...

You don't think there's something messed up in that mechanic, treating slaves as currency? Fuck off.

Fuck off hahahaha okay dude.

It's a game where you are liberating slaves... you think they didn't want to make that and instead made a racist game where you make it seem like slaves are free but really, THEY'RE CURRENCY STILL OH GOD!?

No dude, they just made a DLC with a message on top of a game with collection based progression mechanics, and so they kept that in there. They weren't making a whole new game and I'm sure they had a small team and a short deadline. That's all.

But magnify it and make it a huge issue. That was Ubisofts intent I'm sure!

Thissssssssssssssssss. There's really nothing more to it.

Exactly. No-one's going to ponder the "deep implications" of the umpteenth Assassin's Creed collectathon.

While I haven't played the game, from what I understand: you are being thanked by store owners for freeing the slaves and in return they offer you more wares? Turning this situation into "cruel irony" seems to require some heavy deduction gymnastics. Isn't this basically the same liberation side quest we've been doing for several games now, except these "slaves" happen to be of a skin color that suddenly evokes deeper pondering? I'm sure the Freedom Cry goes into the horrors of slavery in much greater detail than past entries that simply asked you to liberate areas from their oppressors, but it does seem like theres a rather heavy amount of projection going on here rather than any sort of ironic twists.

Posted by XplusY

@thevgamer: Exactly what I wanted to hear! It is downloading on my PS4 now (which means I can start playing it). Thanks.

Edited by WillieMcBride

@forkboy: On Playstation and PC it's getting released standalone.

Posted by OrfBC

The fermenting revolution, led by Captain Morgan of the Dread Ship Bacardi.

Edited by Seppli

Was reluctant to pick it up, for fear of spoilers, because I eventually want to play Black Flag. Good thing there aren't any.

If the upcoming Final Fantasy XIV Beta doesn't tickle my fancy, and I manage to tear myself away from BF4 Second Assault and Disgaea Afternoon of Darkness, I will give it a shot this weekend.

How many hours of content is in it, by the way? Thief is right around the corner, and that might be right down my alley.

Posted by Red12b
Posted by ToTheNines

I don't find anything ethically wrong with any of the issues Patrick present in this review personally. When you risk your own neck and life to do something good you SHOULD be rewarded and looked upon in favor, even if it is freeing slaves which by today in the modern world is a non issue (least in the western societies, I am sure there is slavery out there somewhere).

However I know that everyone perceives the world in various ways and opinions differ, so I respect this review for what it is and I find it well written as always, Patrick.

Edited by Pie

@red12b:

take a saaad song and ma----

*cries*

Posted by GERALTITUDE

Very interesting/surprising review! Great stuff.

I'm going to play this game once I'm no longer exhausted by just thinking about AC.

Online
Edited by Zevvion

I know it's been like 10 years since they first started doing it but I still just can't buy into the DLC concept, it feels like a gouge every time and I would rather burn my money than give it to them. The AC games have been so bad for it, take an extra few months and finish the game if you want me to pay for it!

You're really living in the past. I can't even mention a recent example where a game chopped off part of the game and put it behind DLC. I don't think that stuff happens that much anymore. And when it happens, that DLC is usually free. Last I can remember, DmC had Bloody Palace, a seperate mode that usually is part of those games, cut out because they couldn't make it. It was a free download (and still is) a month or so later. Its paid DLC was playing a different character in its own progression. Clearly not part of the main game.

What else... the new Last of Us DLC is supposedly extremely good. You can say what you will about Burial at Sea, but there is no doubt that was not part of the main game and is a new take on the Infinite universe. Borderlands 2 DLC has been consistently good, some of it great. They only started work on those after the game was gold.

You are missing out. Get over your fear of DLC. A lot of it is great, worth the money, and not parts of the main game that seem to be cut out.

Edited by NTM

Something I find very different when it comes to four, and perhaps you can even say three (though three was mediocre to me), is that the ship sections are my least favorite part. I still love the moments on foot. Sure, it's been done before many times, but it can still be exciting, at least to me. I love chasing guys down, and I feel like everything that was in three, brought over to four was done much better, making it better than just tolerable, which I can't say the same for three.

One of the only things I like about the ship aside from some tense moments of fighting at times (though sometimes I even dislike that), is that it's the way to fluidly (no pun intended) get around the map. I don't hate ship on ship battles most of the time, I'm more often than not indifferent about it, but as I went through the game, I disliked most of the battles against the forts I had to take over as well as some of the ship battles during the story missions. I also don't know why, but I'm pretty ambivalent towards the sea shanties. In some respects, I kind of like it, at least the idea, but on the other, I always tell them to shut up.

It's kind of annoying, and even more annoying when you hear them start the same song over and over each time you get on the boat, or to simply change it to one you've already heard too many times. I really enjoy exploring the world on foot. I just wish that instead of being able to do a full sync of missions by the options menu, you could have everything that you've unlocked, and do a new game plus, because I'd love to do the story again that way. As for this DLC. I like Assassin's Creed a lot (except for three, and one's merely good), but I never buy any of the DLC, so it's weird. I don't think I'll buy this either, I don't know. I also never watch full games on YouTube, but I may check this out on YouTube.

Posted by 137

completed assassins creed iv 100 percent, downloaded this dlc, was not a huge fan. Everything that I loved about the regular game seemed stripped out of this. The music was fairly lackluster, the shanties are gone, not even any decent sailing music. Nothing that gets me all pumped up about being a pirate.

The upgrades to the ship came at a pace so fast destroying level 60 ships was a mere joke, even without fully upgraded mortars.

The game is definitely in it's core a great extension, I didn't really see the freeing of slaves a huge currency conflict to me. I was just doing it because I thought that's what I was supposed to do. Help my brothers, however I got so caught up in freeing slaves just because that by the time I tried to sync all of the viewpoints before doing anything I had freed almost 500 slaves before even getting a ship to head to sea.

There just really was no incentive to play past that point.

I haven't even finished the dlc past the point of a game breaking glitch where I had to eavesdrop on 5 different characters before returning to mama kootzie or whatever her name was to start a mission, she got all pissed at me and the game said I couldn't continue the story until I liberated another plantation.

At this point I became bored, and felt tasked not being able to do what I wanted to do and fired up a different video game.

I wish there were more things for Edward Kenway to do, I loved this character a lot, sucks his story is over with and his descendants were such posh cunts.

Posted by bybeach

Coming to the Pc as a stand alone. F**king right on. Because I could not stand AC for some reason, despite Ryan having a good time with them and obviously enjoying doing his QL's, as I remember.

But his might be short enough, and thematic enough to hold me. Hey, Patrick compared it to Far Cry, Blood dragon, and I hated Far cry 3 and loved Blood Dragon. Yes, I know I'm stetching it., but Ubisoft's ball may bounce twice for me.

Posted by Klei

Ubisoft are pretty good at making fake screenshots.

Posted by johnham

@patrickklepek Is it possible to not be a dick when calling out a typo? I promise I'm tryin'!

I believe the word you were looking for in paragraph five was "fomenting", not "fermenting". I only bring it up because it's such a good word.

Posted by _Frobos

@snail: Thanks a lot! I'll be sure to do that next time!

Edited by Mercury45

@artisanbreads said:

@mercury45 said:

I'm not into AC at all but I was curious to read about Patrick's perspective on the issue of slavery, especially given the context and the format this is presented in. Some of these things like the vendor upgrades do sound questionable, but overall this does sound like a mostly-forward step, and I guess there's gotta be missteps as well as triumphs if we're going to have a proper portrayal of these issues.

I agree, but when games pretty much never tackle anything with any importance to it you have to give them slack. Making a game fun in addition to having a message is great and is only something to celebrate. I love that this even exists. Don't think many game companies would take the risk.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm in agreement with you there - I think it's good that they took the risk. I'm just thinking that yeah, some of that stuff is a little weird but in uncharted territory (for games) it makes sense that developers are going to do some stuff that just doesn't work.

I guess I'm trying to say I'm unsurprised that there's some stumbles, but even the mistakes bring us closer to understanding what is and isn't appropriate to presenting this and other sensitive topics.

Edited by mrfluke

@patrickklepek i was the one a while back on tumblr telling you that this guy was the 1st trinidad protagonist in a game, my country doesnt have a proud representation like overall in any medium, but Adewale is one i can proudly call a Trinidadian as im baised, but i thought he was a great character., just wanted to say that this was a great review, disagreed with you on the disconnect you had and some other points, but specifically that moment you're talking about on the ship, absolutely was a crazy moment.

Edited by Scotto

The number of slaves you rescue isn't "currency" so much as it's more of a gating system for new upgrades. You don't "spend" slaves to get new gear - as you save more slaves, merchants sympathetic to the cause (usually hiding in wooded areas) reward you with more stuff.

I suppose this creates a small amount of ludonarrative dissonance, but it isn't quite the giant matzah ball of sad irony Patrick makes it out to be. I also thought it made an interesting (if possibly inadvertent) point - no matter how many saves Adewale saves, it's never enough. You come back to Port-au-Prince five minutes later, and it's like nothing has changed.

And as Scoops himself points out, "farming" slaves in the game is completely unnecessary anyway, because once you start attacking slave ships you're going to hit the upgrade "cap" quickly.

Posted by Redhorn

Wow, this sounds really interesting. Thanks Patrick.

Posted by jsnyder82

Having not played the game, I don't really have the appropriate context in which to judge the ethical issues Patrick speaks of. However, you have to give them props for tackling a subject like this, even if they're not 100% successful in doing so.

Edited by chose

Patrick grew up in Chicago, one of the most segregated city in the US, so I understand where he's coming from.

Edited by LikeaSsur

I'm still not sold (hah, pun) on how slaves are being used as "currency." Are you spending them to buy said upgrades?

Edited by KCDotCom

As Patrick noted, Ubi still relies on the tired mission mechanics like eavesdropping and I totally agree with his 4-star review. I didn't have a big problem with the "slaves as currency" mechanic because from a narrative mechanic, it makes sense. The slaves you're freeing are adding to a resistance movement that would naturally be able to start finding/making better weapons and have access to better equipment and resources.

Edited by Roboculus92

I haven't played this so I can't really judge it's ethical qualities but the little footage I remember seeing about this dlc regarding the saving of the slaves seemed to be more disappointing/boring than cruel. If you were actually trading the slaves for resources then there'd definitely be more red flags regarding this but just having it tied to upgrades doesn't seem that offensive (then again you shouldn't be telling other people how they should feel or react to something so even if I am not offended, I"m not gonna get up in your grill because you're offended). I'll agree that it could take away some of the impact of the story since I think the main story of this dlc is about saving slaves so to just have them basically be collectibles that you run into here and there does make it feel less interesting and less significant. Still gotta give props to Ubisoft for tackling this kinda subject matter.

Posted by Chango

I'm going to get the standalone version soon. Like many others, I feel worn out on AC. I haven't played AC4, and despite the rave for it, I just can't get the enthusiasm to play it. But for $15, I'm willing to try this out.

Edited by Dark_Lord_Spam
@skippysigmatic said:

Is gaining unlockables for freeing slaves somehow more ethically "questionable" than flat out murdering people for unlockables? I mean, you were a PIRATE in the base game! You boarded ships and murdered people for in-game currency! This is sensitivity taken way, way too far. It's a video game with progression mechanics, which happens to actually tackle interesting ideas in history. Given the fact that these video game tropes are very deeply integrated at this point, I simply do not see the ethical problem here.

Sometimes it seems like Patrick is reaching too hard for "big" ideas and issues in the industry, when in reality they're just trivial.

This guy knows what I'm saying.

Videogames are still developing and so involved with the internet I feel like they just can't get away with one tiny bit of what any movie or TV show can because people even look at the characters and say things like they are "morally questionable" so they are wrong. When like you say, it's all morally questionable.

And no one gives a fuck when Walter White is morally questionable. No one mentions negatively in their review of Breaking Bad that they didn't like how Walter White started acting.

Okay, there are two separate issues, here, and you're lambasting Patrick unfairly for at least one of them. Nowhere in this review does he imply that the morally reprehensible actions of the game's antagonists soured his opinion of the experience. If anything, his language suggests that the power of his emotional reaction to those developments was what engaged him in the story, and motivated him through what he considers to be middling mechanical structure.

To say no one cares about the immorality of Breaking Bad's main character simply false, a huge number of critical pieces have been written regarding the greater implications of that show's format. There's a very good reason the majority of critics don't pick that aspect of the show apart, however, because it creates no cognitive dissonance within its own internal logic. Patrick's criticism is regarding that exact issue: he felt the narrative design and mechanical design of Freedom Cry were at odds with each other. One wanted him to empathically regard the plight of slaves, and the other asked him to calculate the rate at which he could accrue them.

And this issue hasn't arisen from nowhere: if you want examples of the entire Giant Bomb crew discussing the problem of conflicting story and gameplay, the subject has come up for many AAA titles over the past several years. I particularly recommend their conversations about Uncharted 3 and Bioshock Infinite.

@patrickklepek said:
@artisanbreads said:
@mercury45 said:

I'm not into AC at all but I was curious to read about Patrick's perspective on the issue of slavery, especially given the context and the format this is presented in. Some of these things like the vendor upgrades do sound questionable, but overall this does sound like a mostly-forward step, and I guess there's gotta be missteps as well as triumphs if we're going to have a proper portrayal of these issues.

I agree, but when games pretty much never tackle anything with any importance to it you have to give them slack. Making a game fun in addition to having a message is great and is only something to celebrate. I love that this even exists. Don't think many game companies would take the risk.

Basically docking it a point for that? Really silly to me.

Doesn't matter to me really I just think that's lame to see.

Who says I docked it a point for that? That's not how review scores work. Review scores are a gut feeling, not a specific plus/minus system based on what you liked/didn't like about the game.

Tough to judge the points I just don't see many other complaints. I don't care about what score you gave the game really, like I say.

Anyways, I just object to the idea, for the reasons I say. Totally get there can be more elegance but I hardly see it as an ethical question more than simply one of elegance. If they are tackling tough subject matter it would be nice to have the game's mechanics reflect that, but again, no games even do much of this. It's cool to see a big budget one tackle this and maintain it's gameplay, with that same satisfying progression.

It's just a balancing act for the people making the game and for me, they seem to have done about as well as they could in this position. They built off the game with DLC that has it's own unique angle. This wasn't a new game that could design its mechanics around a message.

Anyways, it's just magnifying a small issue to me. I don't care about the point in the score, but you lead with it on the description for the review. I just don't see the need. Like you say, it's a triumph.

The review process is meant to be a very subjective thing, and if the intrusion of the game's currency mechanics affected Patrick's play experience drastically enough for him to feel it warranted an entire passage in his review, it would be dishonest of him to blow it off with a couple of throwaway lines. To suggest he is being "sensationalist" when he devotes time to consider the problem is to suggest either that you believe the game shouldn't be criticized or that you think his review is dishonest as it stands.

@artisanbreads said:

@forkboy said:


@artisanbreads said:

Oh god moralizing down a review score...

You don't think there's something messed up in that mechanic, treating slaves as currency? Fuck off.

Fuck off hahahaha okay dude.

It's a game where you are liberating slaves... you think they didn't want to make that and instead made a racist game where you make it seem like slaves are free but really, THEY'RE CURRENCY STILL OH GOD!?

No dude, they just made a DLC with a message on top of a game with collection based progression mechanics, and so they kept that in there. They weren't making a whole new game and I'm sure they had a small team and a short deadline. That's all.

But magnify it and make it a huge issue. That was Ubisofts intent I'm sure!

This is an argument that Patrick simply cannot bear to consider as a reviewer. The more that the intent of the developer enters into review consideration, the more compromised the entire piece becomes. As far as he and any other editor on the Giant Bomb staff is concerned, whatever interesting stories or clever/brave/novel ideas lay in a development process have to cease to matter as soon as they sit down to write one. Their job is to summarize their experience with and opinion of the game as neatly as they can to try and convince the reader of the validity of their conclusions.

Edited by dr_mantas

Oh bother.

Also, I wonder if there comes a time and one of these reviews will say - hey, killing people for currency is immoral. There should be less violence in these here video games.

Posted by Vorhenze

@chango said:

I'm going to get the standalone version soon. Like many others, I feel worn out on AC. I haven't played AC4, and despite the rave for it, I just can't get the enthusiasm to play it. But for $15, I'm willing to try this out.

This DLC is a much smaller and not nearly as good version of AC4. Aside from the fun of taking down slave ships, it adds little else. Also, the annoyance of missions forcing you to worry about completing a mission at the loss of hearing main story dialogue is at its worse. Followed by the continuous respawning of slaves in need of saving wiping out world believability makes this DLC hard to recommend. But hey, some people seems to love it.

Posted by DukesT3

So many games... and no time... goddamn you adulthood!

Edited by GreyFoxV1
Edited by Gunharp

Who says I docked it a point for that? That's not how review scores work. Review scores are a gut feeling, not a specific plus/minus system based on what you liked/didn't like about the game.

I've no idea how review scores work 'round here nor have I ever really cared for them. I read reviews for the opinion and thoughts you guys end up putting down. However I find this statement curious. Is this just how you personally do reviews or is this true of all of GiantBomb these days?

I mean I know that's not how everyone does reviews on the internet.

Posted by Welvax

I don't feel compelled to play this game primarily to explore the issue of slavery, or feel righteous. This is probably mainly because I steer far clear of anything attached to absurd conceit that is the Abstergo Animus. Unless maybe you throw in a drivatar.

Patrick you understandably don't mention the spoilerific story specifics of the emotional engagement that you as player and the character go through in your anti-slavery fervor. I can’t speak to this build up. Yet despite your actions, no matter how many missions you perform, you can't change the world, and slavery just continues. I guess the message is that like war, "slavery never changes."

Compare this to the slavery depicted in the "war never changes" universe of Fallout 3. Fallout features some of gaming’s greatest moments in the triumph over thralldom. Two of the my biggest gaming moments centered around Fallout 3 and slavery. A low: nabbing a woman runaway slave and returning her to Tenpenny Tower for some quest, then trying to free her later by gingerly removing her slave collar (failed attempt, I don’t feel so good, head explodes yipes). A high: leading the group of runaway slaves to find new digs at the Lincoln Memorial. And the world changes a little for the better. That’s me they’re talking about on the radio, in between the ghouls are people too announcements.

That said, thanks for review. I didn’t know ACIVFC had the same topical issues we face in 2277.

Posted by Fram

Did Patrick ever say he docked a point? Is every game a five-star game unless something is broken?

"I can see and hear this game, and sometimes when I press stuff, shit happens on the screen. Five stars."

People are weird.

Edited by jerseyscum

The AC series is FAR from perfect and some of the gameplay just feels goddamn dated. I still loved Black Flag and was shocked with just how good Freedom Cry turned out. It takes serious balls for a major publisher to release any kind of product, let alone in the AAA realm that deals with subject matter like slavery and human trafficking.

I didn't see the liberation benefits as in-game currency. In the process of freeing slaves, the local resistance gains new recruits. The abolitionists grow in numbers and gain more influence and logistical support as a result. The benefits don't conflict with the narriative as a result.

If you literally used the liberated slaves as a resource that you used to purchase ship upgrades....that would be completely fucked.

Posted by AlexanderSheen

@scotto said:

The number of slaves you rescue isn't "currency" so much as it's more of a gating system for new upgrades. You don't "spend" slaves to get new gear - as you save more slaves, merchants sympathetic to the cause (usually hiding in wooded areas) reward you with more stuff.

I suppose this creates a small amount of ludonarrative dissonance, but it isn't quite the giant matzah ball of sad irony Patrick makes it out to be. I also thought it made an interesting (if possibly inadvertent) point - no matter how many saves Adewale saves, it's never enough. You come back to Port-au-Prince five minutes later, and it's like nothing has changed.

And as Scoops himself points out, "farming" slaves in the game is completely unnecessary anyway, because once you start attacking slave ships you're going to hit the upgrade "cap" quickly.

I have to disagree. Treating slaves as currency sounds way more logical than thinking of it as NPCs sympathising with you and with your cause. I'm sorry, but you're making too much sense.

Edited by weslash

women and children (including those of mixed race) were slaughtered by black slaves during the uprisings in the caribbean. It's hardly something that should be celebrated in videogames or anywhere else for that matter.

Posted by Vorhenze

The AC series is FAR from perfect and some of the gameplay just feels goddamn dated. I still loved Black Flag and was shocked with just how good Freedom Cry turned out. It takes serious balls for a major publisher to release any kind of product, let alone in the AAA realm that deals with subject matter like slavery and human trafficking.

I didn't see the liberation benefits as in-game currency. In the process of freeing slaves, the local resistance gains new recruits. The abolitionists grow in numbers and gain more influence and logistical support as a result. The benefits don't conflict with the narriative as a result.

If you literally used the liberated slaves as a resource that you used to purchase ship upgrades....that would be completely fucked.

Which is what the game set you up to do, which is not really fucked because I'm not a sensationalist, but not really good gameplay either.

Edited by Mentaur

Interesting that this is getting a standalone release. Oscars tie-in with a certain movie perhaps?

Edited by Scotto

@vorhenze said:

@jerseyscum said:

The AC series is FAR from perfect and some of the gameplay just feels goddamn dated. I still loved Black Flag and was shocked with just how good Freedom Cry turned out. It takes serious balls for a major publisher to release any kind of product, let alone in the AAA realm that deals with subject matter like slavery and human trafficking.

I didn't see the liberation benefits as in-game currency. In the process of freeing slaves, the local resistance gains new recruits. The abolitionists grow in numbers and gain more influence and logistical support as a result. The benefits don't conflict with the narriative as a result.

If you literally used the liberated slaves as a resource that you used to purchase ship upgrades....that would be completely fucked.

Which is what the game set you up to do, which is not really fucked because I'm not a sensationalist, but not really good gameplay either.

Ship upgrades are purchased with the usual goods from AC4. Only armaments for Adewale himself are gated by the number of slaves you free (well, some are - some you find around the world).

As I said in my original comment, I don't really see the issue with this. They are implementing a gameplay feedback loop to encourage you to free more slaves. Your movement grows in strength and power, and your armaments improve as a result. I suppose it's a little odd, but hardly an "ethical issue".

If you were literally trading slaves for stuff like coins, that would be messed up -- but you aren't.

Posted by HellknightLeon

Haha that's kinda neat. Its super funny. I don't know if that's a burn but I would love someone making that of me. Awesome work to whoever did that. Oh and AC Black Flag slave whatever dlc seems ok.

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