Adéwalé should feel robbed.
The most charismatic member of the Kenway family has been a templar, and there’s something a bit off with that, right? Adéwalé, on the other hand, is everything an assassin should be. Devoted to the cause, distinct, roughly charming, and above all not a whining self loathing or self-involved tool (sorry Kenway clan). More impressive is that all of this is achieved without a huge setup or introduction, just enough of one to set the tone for the next few hours. He deserved to be the star of Assassin’s Creed IV, not just a member of the supporting cast. Even in this rather small 4 to 5 hr adventure, he quickly escapes the restrictions of his limited spotlight.
The expansion campaign takes place 15 years after the events of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, with Adéwalé now bestowed with full membership into the brotherhood. His purpose is made very clear, one that consists of breaking down the templars' hold, while fulfilling his own personal goal of liberating his brothers and sisters along the way. Eventually you help bolster a resistance in dire need of some good fortune, and this need gives you considerable incentive to seek out the various side missions. Helping liberate the slaves of Port-Au-Prince rewards you with additional help for the resistance and is directly tied to unlocking additional advancements to your gear and weaponry. I love how seamlessly this is all tied together, but I would have liked a bit more character development for some of the other supporting cast. Other than Augustin and Bastienne, there isn't a lot of that around. Unfortunately, with the smaller scale of an expansion, something has to be left on the cutting room floor, but what could have been is very enticing, and what is there is high quality.
The combat is mostly unchanged, but going from Assassin’s Creed: Liberation to the full AC 4 engine has helped me appreciate the finer control presented here, though there are a few hiccups along the way. This rears its head when attempting to climb anything that isn’t completely flat or wall like in nature. All the sudden it feels as if Adéwalé needs a few lessons from Lara Croft on how to scale a small platform. The world available to Adéwalé at times feels a bit small, but once out on the water that slightly claustrophobic feeling mostly goes away. The whole point is to leave someone wanting more, so I guess it's hypocritical to then criticize the game for not being long enough, but just a bit more real estate to play in would not have gone unappreciated. The same applies to the upgrade system, as both your blunderbuss and machete have very low upgrade ceilings. I understand the whole reason we can only pay $15 to $20 for a game is that some features have to be scaled down, but I’m still allowed to want things, right?
For those who have already invested in Assassin’s Creed IV, the expansion is more of what you love, with a protagonist that you will love even more. For the uninitiated, Freedom Cry is a wonderful entry into this era of the series and comes extremely recommended. Adewale is a standout, and here is hoping that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of his story.
This review copy was provided by Ubisoft for the Playstation 3.