'Assassin's Creed IV' a swashbuckling romp.

AuthorKesten, Lou

Byline: Lou Kesten


Ubisoft, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U


Pirates have gotten a bad rap in 21st-century pop culture. There are the desperate, haggard pirates tangling with Tom Hanks in ''Captain Phillips.'' Or the stumbling, soused Capt. Jack Sparrow in ''Pirates of the Caribbean.'' Or even the freeloading pirates who destroyed the music business.

''Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag'' (Ubisoft, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, $59.99) tries to restore the kind of glamour that pirates haven't really known since the early days of Hollywood, when Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks sailed the high seas. And it's mostly successful, serving up a rich stew of swordplay, naval combat and discovery.

The protagonist is Edward Kenway, a strapping young Welshman who's bored with life on the farm and decides a pirate's life is for him. After a shipwreck, Edward kills a mysterious assassin and assumes his identity, inadvertently becoming a player in a millennia-old battle between two secret societies. The Assassins, essentially, stand for freedom, while the Templars seek control; you can guess which team a pirate will want to play for.

Edward's story sprawls across the Caribbean of the 1730s, with major stops in Havana; Kingston, Jamaica; and Nassau, the Bahamas. Along with the Assassin-Templar feud, Edward and his merry band also have to contend with British and Spanish troops, slave traders and competing freebooters.

As in previous games in this series, there are almost...

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