Ubisoft's first venture into the next generation 'AAA' space takes a familiar path, thanks to the release of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag on PS4. The game has already been released on current generation consoles of course, but that doesn't mean the leap to a more powerful console isn't without it's merits.
So is it worth upgrading to the PS4 version if you have already played the PS3 version? Well I suppose that depends on how much you enjoyed the game the first time around, but if as I suspect you loved it, then there is no reason not to check it out again on Sony's new console, because the extra sheen that the upgraded graphics bring are worth their weight in gold.
Although nothing has changed at all in terms of gameplay, the high-resolution textures, fantastic water, flame and fog effects are all stunning to behold. Vegetation has also been improved, in fact everything about the game now looks stunningly realistic, which adds no end to the already stellar gameplay. It's an impressive feat from Ubisoft considering that it designed the game to work on multiple platforms and it makes you wonder how good it'll look this time next year when the next Assassin's Creed game rolls into town.
There are other benefits to playing on PS4 of course, such as having the pleasure of playing with the DualShock 4 and of course, Remote Play, which allows you to play Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag on the wonderful OLED screen of your , wherever you are in the house.
But what of the controls on Remote Play, just how has Ubisoft replaced the DS4 functions? Well the L1/R1 shoulder buttons are represented by the rear touch panel, while L2/R2 call the Vita's shoulder buttons home. Interestingly, the L3 and R3 click buttons have been moved to the top corners of the touch screen, while the map comes up by touching the centre of the screen, with the ability to pinch to zoom once you are within the map area. I have to say that this is the best use of Vita yet as far as the controls go, as both other games I have played use the default of splitting the back touch panel into four for L2/L3 and R2/R3, without making use of the Vita's excellent front touchscreen. If other developers can provide a unique experience such as this just for Vita, then the Remote Play functionality is going to prove to be an excellent selling point for both PS4 and the handheld itself.
I have to say that for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Remote Play has certainly been a huge benefit to me. It works flawlessly, with minimal lag, even when the action is heating up on the screen, plus the way the developers have implemented the controls as mentioned above is just brilliant. To say i've been impressed with this feature, particularly for this game, would be an understatement.
To me, Assassin's Creed on PS4 is worth it for the graphical upgrades alone, however the Vita Remote Play functionality is an excellent addition and one that's well worth checking out. Plaudits go to Ubisoft for a job well done with its first step into the next generation. If this is how the publisher starts, then I can't wait to see how titles such as Watch Dogs turn out in the future.
Words by Joe Anderson.
@_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta
(Version Tested: PS4)
+ Looks wonderful
+ Same fantastic gameplay
+ Remote Play is a excellent bonus
- No extra features
Editor's Note: This review is written to highlight the main differences between the PS3 and PS4 versions of the game. If you'd like a more in-depth review, then please read our Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag review for PS3.