Video Game Review: Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry

Details: Beat it in about five hours. I played the stand alone DLC, but if you buy the DLC that is not, then you will need Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag installed if you want to play this DLC. Played it on the PC. Purchased for $5.

I really enjoyed Freedom Cry. The problems I had with Black Flag were certainly still there. However, I bought Freedom Cry for one main reason: the story. I wanted more story that tied with the historical setting of the time. This game delivered that.

The story premise is this: Adwele, the first mate of Edward Kenway and member of the Assassins, is shipwrecked in a slave trading town. He meets the locals in an attempt to get back out to sea and return to the Assassins. In his efforts, he befriends and sympathizes with a slave rebellion in the town and takes up their cause.

One of the main draws of the Assassin’s Creed games is that it is educational. Often times, they take a historical event or attitude and immerse you in it, both introducing you to an idea and showing you how it may have felt to live in that era. Freedom Cry does a great job showing just a small slice of the slave trade of that time period and the attitudes present.

It’s a sensitive subject for various reasons. Movies and shows like Roots or 12 Years a Slave have done a great job showing some of the ugliness related to the slavery of that time period. People often criticize an exploration of these ideas because it is ugly, because some people still adhere to that racism and do not want it perceived negatively, and also because people who identify themselves with the countries that were responsible for slavery feel the cruelty and evil of that time is an insult to them personally and their national pride. For these reasons, I wanted to see this game even more because — while this is a fictional games — those attitudes were very real. For some people, they likely still are.

And you do feel the wrongness of the era through this game. The mental gymnastics necessary to justify enslaving a people are always ridiculous to see. The last few missions were particularly striking in how they illustrated just how little the slave overseers valued the lives of their slaves; they just didn’t think they were human. While the slavery of the colonial era is over, that kind of thinking and prejudice is powerful in that it often times rings familiar, even in the present day.

In regards to gameplay, it’s exactly the same as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. In other words,  there is some sailing, some sneaking, and the same counter based combat from prior games.

The graphics are the same as Black Flag, which isn’t bad in my opinion because I thought Black Flag looked great for its time.

The music deserves special mention because I think all the tracks are new and not present in Black Flag. It’s mostly orchestral with some moving vocal portions that help immerse the player even more. The music is great.

Score: 6/10 Good downloadable content. I feel like it was worth the five dollars I paid, but the game unlikely justifies a penny higher than that.

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