After the disappointing collection of DLCs that accompanied Assassin's Creed III, hopes for a good Black Flag product were not too bright. Contrary to expectations, Grido di Libertà turned out to be rather full-bodied content, which certainly cannot be accused of dishonesty towards the buyer, moreover not devoid of content and narrative merits. Yet, ironically, it fails to totally convince, above all due to a basic antithesis compared to the remarkable progress made by Black Flag compared to its predecessor. In fact, if there is one characteristic that made Edward Kenway's adventures particularly enjoyable, it is the great sense of freedom that accompanied the raids, combined with a good number of collateral activities to the main story, and precisely these peculiarities are mostly put by part in this expansion. On the other side of the coin, however, there is credit to the developers for having made an effort not only to write a story worthy of being told, but also to have based the peculiarities of the gameplay firmly on it. As it will be clear by now, Freedom Cry is not an easy expansion to evaluate, and is almost certainly destined to divide critics as well as fans.
Cry of Freedom is certainly a quality content, yet destined to be discussed
We had already stated that the Jackdaw quartermaster was a very interesting character during the Black Flag review phase, and choosing him as the protagonist of Freedom Cry is undoubtedly a good choice by Ubisoft. Fifteen years have passed since the Kenway and Thatch raids, but the Caribbean Sea is still shaken by deep conflicts.
From a humble quartermaster, Adéwalé has become a ship captain and a member of the sect of the Assassins, although his personal aims are markedly different from those of Kenway. Although his ship flies the black flag, raids and raids represent the least of his interests, aimed instead at the fight against slavery. As can be easily guessed from the title, the plot of the first Black Flag DLC is entirely dedicated to the horrors of the slave trade, with the new protagonist seriously intent on undermining the status quo by subterfuge, and, on occasion, cannon fire. The delicate narrative theme becomes in fact also important from the point of view of the gameplay, with the approximately five hours of plot dotted with activities concerning the liberation of prisoners. From the new city of Port Au Prince (Haiti) to the plantations that dot the unprecedented archipelago proposed by the DLC, the player will be constantly called to free as many slaves as possible, both by attacking the mansions, with the task of eliminating, silently or blatantly , a certain number of guards, both targeting the vessels dedicated to the transport of slaves, which will naturally be left unharmed, attacking the military escort ships instead. The number of slaves freed from the beginning of the plot will be constantly controllable in special menus, and small additions can be brought simply by wandering around the city of Port Au Prince, where it will often happen to come across prisoners chased by slaveholders, or in sales of laborers to the auction, which can be blatantly interrupted by freeing the inmates from the cages. As it is easy to guess, the emotional side is very strong in Cry of Freedom, and represents a not inconsiderable enthralling element throughout the course of the plot. While not quite as talkative, Adéwalé has therefore proved to be fully capable of holding up the comparison with Kenway, while it must be recognized that Freedom Cry lacks a good supporting actor, of which the original game instead abounded.
Cry of Freedom allows the unlocking of 6 achievements, 4 normal and 2 hidden, for a total of 170 Gamerscore points. Some are related to the completion of the plot, but to have them all it will be necessary to free many slaves and kill in particular ways.
As already mentioned, the liberation of slaves is the theme around which not only the plot revolves, but also the gameplay itself of the whole DLC, to the point of also affecting the unlocking system. In addition to any raw materials and money, you will also need to have freed a number of slaves, up to several hundred, to purchase equipment, weapons and upgrades for the ship. The narrative forcing is evident, and perhaps not too elegant (it almost seems that Adéwalé frees the slaves for personal gain), but looking beyond the surface the stratagem is functional to the gameplay, also considering the fact that the mechanics related to the release of the prisoners do not boring, especially in the case of plantations. Some news also from the point of view of the equipment, both purely aesthetic (the main weapon of Adéwalé is a machete, and some animations have been revised accordingly), and with practical implications. At the disposal of the former quartermaster there are in fact some new tools, such as firecrackers, excellent for distracting even large groups of guards for a few precious seconds, and, for the first time in the saga, a weapon very similar to a shotgun. Devastating from close range, the harquebus is not exactly a refined diversion but, when used at the right time, it can make a difference from traditional methods. As for the design of the missions, except for the activities related to the slave trade, the approximately five-hour duration of Cry of Freedom does not reserve any other particular surprises. There is an attempt to propose some indoor activities, such as listening to conversations, but without particular verve. And here we come to the main flaw of Freedom Cry, namely the lack of that remarkable sense of openness that had characterized, and made it unique, Black Flag.
Confined to a small archipelago lacking in secondary activities, and mostly forced to follow the plot (unless it is a question of freeing slaves), the player feels a certain constraint, which has little to do with the spirit of the main game. It is a shame, especially if we consider the efforts made, with success, to give Adéwalé a dimension in which to move, and, above all, the emotional drives that manage for once not to be cloying or artificial. From a technical point of view, the game has the same characteristics as Black Flag, although the optimization has not turned out to be as good. A few bugs, both related to artificial intelligences and of an environmental nature, accompanied the short adventure, certainly to a greater extent than seen in the original game. The auto-save system with close checkpoints has saved us from great frustrations, allowing us to easily return to a little earlier point, but we are still confident in the release of corrective patches. Assassin's Creed IV: Freedom Cry is controversial add-on content. On the one hand there is a realization of excellent quality, able to stage a credible story, an interesting and very different protagonist from the predecessor, and above all to align the narrative gimmicks with those of gameplay, in a remarkable and successful amalgamation. In all this, however, one of the most important elements relating to the success of Black Flag is missing, namely the great freedom in the hands of the player. By necessity, the purchase advice is therefore limited to those accustomed to even more linear experiences, who, in this case, will discover a beautiful story accompanied by the classic gameplay of the series, alongside a pleasant and engaging mechanic linked to the slave trade. On the other hand, those who find that Black Flag could not even exist without the sense of freedom that accompanies its adventures, will hardly be able to fully appreciate Cry of Freedom, beyond its undeniable merits.
- Engaging story
- Mechanics related to the slave trade interesting
- Good durability
- The sense of freedom is missing
- A few bugs