Friday 3 January 2014

Trying out Assassin's Creed: Pirates (Mobile Game)

It wasn't much of a surprise that Ubisoft released a separate mobile game just a couple of weeks after the release of AC IV. The Pirate theme in the latest iteration of their Assassin's Creed franchise was a huge attraction, so their mobile game continued in the same theme.

So is it any good? I managed to try it out so here's my thoughts..

The opening credits introduces a Legendary Pirate, known as La Buse.

And then soon you know.. Abstergo is meddling into history again for a reason..

By re-living the memories of Alonzo Batilla, who knew La Buse before he became famous, to find something of importance. Alonzo is a french-man who was "left to rot by his king after risking his life for his crown". He meets La Buse after the latter takes control of the ship that Alonzo was a captive in. Along with another captive, Jumao, Alonzo Batilla joins Las Buse's crew and soon becomes a "Captain" of his own ship where Jumao becomes is his assistant.

The next few chapters gives you control of Alonzo Batilla as you travel the seas proving your worth to La Buse and gradually making a name for yourself, meeting other pirates including Benjamin Hornigold.

Your regular cut-scenes are in this form, without any voice-over but text dialogue.

It seems fine for a mobile game, I don't think we could have expected full voice-over. I actually look forward to the cut-scenes. They give you a better understanding of the character relationships. Not going to spoil anything but the relationship between Alonzo and La Buse is pretty interesting in the first few chapters. (No, not that kind of interesting..)

The quality of the graphics were being hyped up pre-release so do take a look..

To note, I purchased and am playing the game on iPad... The graphics are nice but not something that I went "wow!" about. Not sure if the choice of device had anything to do with it.. Still.. the game looks impressive enough.

Gameplay is about navigating your ship through the seas in 2 ways..

In this mode, you navigate your ship by holding your finger on the wheel and dragging it to either side. Objectives nearby are highlighted in view as well as in the mini-map on your bottom left. On the bottom right, you can increase/decrease your sail speed as required. 

I really enjoy this mode, especially in the different missions. It can be really fun trying to navigate your ship around turns or while in pursuit of a rival ship. Turning your ship around quickly while adjusting your ship's speed is a must in one of the mission types. With a timer ticking, it's one of the more skill-required missions to complete, especially if you don't have the best ships.

Another cool feature of this mode is Sea Shanties! Yes, your crew will start singing away randomly while you are in this mode. Many-a-times, I'll just cruise around just listening to it, as changing the mode will stop the crew singing.. :(

The other mode however can be more practical. 

Changing to this mode will allow you to travel faster as well as see where your objectives are. "Draw" a navigation line from your ship to your destination and you will be there in a few seconds.

It's not always as simple as that though. See those ships highlighted in red, with a circle around them? The circle denotes the enemy ship's view. Several missions will require you to reach a destination while avoiding their view so navigating past the ships can get tricky.

AC Pirates isn't all about navigation of course. I know you want some Naval Combat!

Naval Combat is rather easy but it will need some quick hands especially if there's a timer..

Once you engage an enemy ship, there will be a short clip that shows the ships moving into position, a few seconds for you to get ready, if you may..

Then the battle starts.. 

Naval Combat is turn-based. Either you or the enemy starts the attack first.

You choose from several options of attack. While your enemy reloads, you can fire as many times as possible. How many attacks you can do, depends on how fast your different weapons reload and how fast the enemy reloads. Once they are ready to attack, it's your turn to defend.

In defence, you have to avoid the enemy's attacks by dodging right or left. It's very simple at the starting stages but gets a little tricky in later stages as the enemy's attacks become faster. It can be a little frustrating as some missions have optional objectives/rewards that require not to get hit even once but nothing to worry about. Just a little challenge to keep things exciting.

Once you have taken out the enemy ship, there can be additional rewards to "pick up" from the sea as well. Sometimes you will need to scroll around to see them.

As the game progresses and you earn rewards, you gain access to bigger and better ships. Ships' attack, defence and speed can be upgraded with materials you collect from each mission. You can also purchase many different types of bonuses but you can only equip a few at any one time. Bonuses include boosts that can give your ship a temporary speed boost, reload weapons faster, give your weapons an attack bonus for 1 round.

Of course, like most mobile games, playing daily reaps rewards!

There are also different sets of treasure items to collect. I'm only halfway-through the game so not sure what completing those sets will do. 

Abstergo is present in AC Pirates but there's still no clue about La Buse or Alonzo being Assassins or Templars. Also no idea if this game ties in with AC IV in anyway. How or if this game expands the AC franchise also remains to be seen. 

I am in two minds about recommending this game to people. The game is fun but it doesn't do anything out of the ordinary to justify the price. It's only US$4.99/SGD$5.99, which isn't much to be honest, but the gameplay is quite repetitive and with so many free mobile games out there, paying for one may seem absurd to some.

If AC Pirates was a free download, I will definitely urge everyone to try this one out. It's a cool game to have while travelling around and there is enough variation in the game-play to not get bored easily. Trying to complete all the optional objectives also gives some encouragement to keep playing for better ships. It seems that most of the optional objectives can be completed if you good enough but there might be a couple you might need to revisit when you have access to the better ships and boosts.

If the price isn't an issue for you, then by all means, get it. I'm hoping the end-game expands the AC universe in some way or another, to give the hardcore Assassin's Creed fans a reason to get and complete this game. Otherwise hopefully, the future will bring some real cool additions to the game..