Ubisoft have done it again. They release mediocre games as a main instalment, then bring out the greatest expansion packs ever. Far Cry 3, boring after Vaas dies, Blood Dragon on the other hand, action intensive and should have been the main release. Same with Black Flag and Freedom Cry.
Freedom Cry is an intensive 6 hour campaign to fully complete, compared to the confusing Black Flag’s 50 hour+ campaign. It still manages to pack most of Black Flag’s mechanics into the stand alone expansion with graphics, combat, ship navigation and parkour being exactly same. The only gameplay difference is the size of the world to explore, with only a handful of destinations in Freedom Cry to dock at with your ship. I remark that this game is intensive, as it offers a remorseful story of the slave trade at its harshest, whereas Black Flag is something to do with having to constantly save fictional pirate characters (who may aswell be dressed up as damsels with beards), whilst gathering a tonne of pointless collectables inbetween missions.
The problem with Black Flag, was that it was a boating simulator hidden behind an Assassin’s Creed logo. There’s only so many boats you can plunder in AC3 before it gets boring to do it all over again in AC4. The main character is some Welsh bloke (worst of the 3 Gaelic accents), who has a domestic with his wife, falls in with the Assassins and then chases after a piece of Eden, which we apparently haven’t already done enough of in the past 5 instalments. In Freedom Cry, we are involved in a more noble cause, setting aside the tired plight of the Creed to help Adewale, a former slave, free his people from the brutal slavery of the Europeans.
The greatest strength of Freedom Cry is that through a game, it covertly teaches us of the conditions that the African slaves endured for hundreds of years. Just like an episode of Quantum Leap would be able to show how minorities were treated in the late 20th Century of America, Ubisoft has been able to achieve the same feat by replicating the harshness of life for African people, not even thought of as human by profiting wankers back then. I’m afraid I can’t apologise for cussing, as this game really did stir feelings of anger towards our ancestors, but it’s not easy being angry at them alone when I only have to reflect on modern day slavery, and how people are still suffering for our gain (especially for the top 1% who snigger behind their inherited walled mansions), even though we should have learnt from the lessons of the past.
It’s a shame that this story wasn’t expanded to span the length of a couple of years like Black Flag, which could have introduced us to pioneers like William Wilberforce. It’s also a shame that the developers never came to research or mention Kingston-Upon Hull here in England, just around the corner from me, that not only has an extensive history in shipping, but was also the birthplace of Wilberforce. The power this game could have had in spreading the message (and reiterating it for some) that slavery was wrong could have been very far spread, but sadly, as this game was released as a stand alone expansion rather than as the main installment, means that it wouldn’t have reached the extensive audience that played Black Flag. Though I’m sure more gamers would have preferred to play as a freedom fighter than some poxy pirate (which you can still do anyway in Freedom Cry!).
The soundtrack is beautifully atmospheric, with a great Caribbean vibe to it, similar to Monkey Island. It’s just a shame there are no Maroon songs to listen to as sea chanties whilst sailing. A note on graphics, the game will still drive two 970s in SLI into the ground, so some optimising on the player’s end is required.
Overall, compared to Black Flag, Freedom Cry drives a much better story that stirs up more feeling and intensive passion. Freedom Cry is essentially the surprisingly pleasing Cutthroat Island to the repetitive, money spinning, Pirates of the Caribbean.