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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Freedom Cry

By Jorge Figueiredo - February 16th, 2014

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Very mild spoilers for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag contained within this article. Probably nothing you couldn’t have figured out anyway.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is one of my all-time favourites. The game follows part of the life of Edward Kenway and his adventures around the Caribbean in his ship (the Jackdaw), as well has his journey to find himself. It is a powerful self-contained story that is both entertaining and moving thanks to fantastic writing and a host of awesome characters. One of those characters that plays a big role is the Jackdaw’s quartermaster (and Edward’s friend), Adéwalé. To me, Adéwalé was Edward’s moral compass, and he guided his friend to become a great Assassin (one who turned the tide against the Templars in that nook of the world) – he also happens to be one of my favourite characters in the whole Assassin’s Creed series, having escaped the chains of slavery to live a better life. Thankfully, Ubisoft has seen fit to give this awesome character his own adventures in the downloadable single-player adventure known as Freedom Cry.

Freedom Cry takes place thirteen years after Adéwalé and Edward parted company (at the end of Black Flag). Adéwalé engages an enemy Templar ship and finds a package in the wreckage addressed to Bastienne Josèphe. Not long after, Adéwalé’s ship (the Victoire) is the target of an approaching fleet of French vessels. Adéwalé and his crew give them the slip through a horrible storm. The ship is destroyed, and Adéwalé finds himself washed up on shore near the French colony of Port-au-Prince, where the colonists prosper on the backs of slaves. From here, Adéwalé’s quest evolves from finding out about the Templar parcel to helping the slaves around Port-au-Prince rise up against their oppressors.

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Something tells me that this is not going to end well for the auctioneers.

Unlike Black Flag, the DLC has an interesting “gated” approach to missions: in a number of cases, you must free slaves to support the uprising before you can take on missions. While this might seem somewhat restrictive, liberating your brothers and sisters results in some interesting rewards. It’s also a great way to flex your muscle as an Assassin. Adéwalé is as stealthy as a cat, creeping around just as well as his friend Edward, allowing you to steal keys from slavers to unlock cages containing the captures slaves. When the situation dictates a confrontation, like playing interference so a slave can flee, Adéwalé is also formidable warrior, wielding a machete with deadly skill. In place of multiple pistols, Adéwalé eventually gets a Blunderbuss, which can probably kill more enemies than four single-shot pistols (if those opponents are standing relatively close together). Adéwalé is also an accomplished sea captain, giving you the opportunity to use his skills to free large groups of slaves contained in slave ships.

I only had two issues with the game. The first is the same issue that I have had since Assassin’s Creed III: I seem to miss the optional requirements most of the time. Maybe it’s just me, but there have been two instances where I finished a mission but totally missed a requirement that I didn’t even know existed. Thankfully, players can just go to the last checkpoint; however, it doesn’t help when the optional goal disappears from the objectives screen as soon as you fail it. For instance, if one of the optional goals was to not be seen, and you were spotted, that line disappears from the objectives – so you’ll never know that you missed it until the end of the mission. The second issue that I had was that one of the main meeting places had two doors, and that to activate the mission you would have to go through a specific door, even though the mission begins in the common area shared by the entryways. Both of these were odd glitches – not game-breaking; just mildly annoying.

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Adéwalé blunder-busts some butt.

These complaints melt away in the face of the greatness of this expansion. For all intents and purposes, Freedom Cry could be a standalone game if it had a more fleshed-out tutorial level1. There are also a few references to Adéwalé’s past from Black Flag, which are easily bits that could be read in a Wiki (or at the companion website, AC Initiates). The writing in Freedom Cry is powerful, and I found that in some instances it was more moving than the story of Edward Kenway in Black Flag’s single-player campaign. Edward spends a fair amount of time in Black Flag trying to figure out who he is and whether or not he fits in the order of Assassins. Adéwalé, on the other hand, is filled with conviction and a desire for his fellow men and women to have their freedom. He starts with a determination that is fierce, and it spreads to his new friends. It is beautiful to watch.

If you are a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series, then there should be no question of whether or not you should get Freedom Cry. It is a great story that stands on its own. Consistent and engaging game-play, a great set of characters, and visuals and audio (including voice acting) that match the original Black Flag game await those who wish to take up arms and free their fellow men and women. I would offer a humble recommendation to pay for a Season Pass, as it enables you to download a few other goodies as well as this great adventure.

1 – Actually, Ubisoft has seen fit to release it as such for the Playstation 3, Playstation 4 and the PC. It would be interesting to know what sort of instructions are provided in that version.

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