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Thursday 23 October 2014

Assassin's DLC pack resonates with humanity

Published 31/12/2013 | 05:38

Freedom Cry wisely integrates its story themes with the actual gameplay.

Shortly after the release of Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, one of the major complaints from the fanbase were that it was extremely difficult to care about the protagonist, Edward's, leading players to become perfectly content sailing accross the Caribbean.

Well, Ubisoft have taken measures now in rectifying said issue with a new DLC pack, Freedom Cry. Which essentially removes the free roam aspect and tells the emotional story of Adewale, Edward Kenway's one-time first mate. Talk about having your cake and not eating it.

Adewale's mission to liberate the slaves of Port-au-Prince while attempting to spark a revolution is as engrossing a tale as the series has seen since Ezio's trilogy. There's some real humanity there, and it can hit some truly resonant notes along the way.

Freedom Cry wisely integrates its story themes with the actual gameplay. Most of the sidequests and diversions you'll stumble across involve saving the life of another human being.

No matter if it's a runaway being hunted down, a pair of disobedient slaves being whipped, or the auctioning off of a family, I always felt an intense moral pang to stop what I was doing and step in to right these horrors.

It might be a bit unsubtle on Ubisoft's part, but I felt compelled to continue liberating slaves and adding members to my growing resistance.

It follows, however, that my biggest gripe with Freedom Cry is that the liberation mechanics don't pay off in a rewarding or meaningful way. Sure, you've saved countless lives, but not in the interest of any sort of mass resistance to the oppresive rule, but just to acquire upgrades at predetermined intervals.

Despite Freedom Cry's much-improved story and dense setting, it still stumbles over the problems that have plagued the series since its beginning, and even some that seemed to have fixed.

Black Flag managed to combat the fatigue of Assassin's Creed's repetitive tail-and-stab missions by allowing us to freely explore a massive world and create our own adventures.

But Freedom Cry's relatively compact map confines us to the main story. There are few distractions in the world, and it only took me an extra hour to see most of what the West Indies has to offer. In a story so heavily wrapped around the concept of freedom, I was sad to find that I had little choice in how my adventure would play out.

I was left a little disappointed after Freedom Cry. Sure, it sticks to the tropes that made the series what it is today, but after the refreshing and pioneering title that was Black Flag, Freedom Cry somehow feels like a half-step too far in the wrong direction.

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