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Assassin’s Creed IV will fly the flag for the Golden Age of Piracy

It’s not much of a leap to link pirates with the Assassins, and this trailer does so rather straightforwardly. Disenchantment with order, devotion to freedom (and debauchery), and a certain predilection for pointed objects – they’re all present and accounted for. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will apparently show us the “true story” of the pirates, “rough and unvarnished”. (The story, that is, not the pirates. You can’t varnish a pi- well, I wouldn’t want to be the one to try it, anyway.)

If you’re detecting a certain lack of excitement in these quarters, you’d be right. As a longtime Assassin’s Creed fan, I just can’t bring myself to get too worked up about this installment. After the agony and the ecstasy (mostly agony, though) of Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft’s next game really needed to sing a redemption song to get the franchise back on track. Instead, what we’re getting is another one-year-later sequel; but what’s worse is that it’s got a ‘IV’ tacked on to the end. Is Black Flag really going to be the bold next step for the franchise? When you consider that Brotherhood, ground-breaking in so many ways, didn’t get that honour, you have to wonder. I loved the naval combat in Assassin’s Creed III, but I don’t think that doubling down on one of the shining lights in an otherwise broken game is the way forward for Assassin’s Creed. Hopefully, Ubisoft and Edward Kenway will prove me wrong when Black Flag launches on October 29th.

The Dark Knight returns in 2013 with Batman: Arkham Origins

Game Informer’s May cover story has been revealed to be Batman: Arkham Origins. The official announcement says:

As the title suggests, the game takes place years before both of the previous Arkham titles when a young, unrefined Batman encounters many supervillains for the first time. On our full cover image below, fans will recognize the assassin Deathstroke, who appears for the very first time in a core Arkham game.

Here’s what we know:

  1. Rocksteady Studios isn’t making Arkham Origins (!) – Warner Bros. Games Montreal will be taking the reins on this one.
  2. Eight of the world’s foremost assassins have come to Gotham City on Christmas Eve for caroling to kill the Bat (and then maybe caroling).
  3. Arkham Origins will be the first Arkham game to actually take place on the streets of Gotham (as mentioned in the developer video I’ve embedded after the break).
  4. Batman: Arkham Origins will release on October 25th for the Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

There’s a lot to talk about here. No Rocksteady, and no Paul Dini? That’s worrying enough, but when you consider that the man tasked with “heading up the vision for Arkham Origins” is Eric Holmes, best known for “being the lead designer of open world action hits The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and Prototype” – that, right there, is when I started to worry. Still, as long as they don’t deviate too much from the foundation that Rocksteady’s laid down, we’ll get a good game.

Another sour note rings out, however – Mark Hamill’s stated that he’s done voicing the Joker, which leaves two possibilities. We’ll either be getting a prequel Arkham game with a ‘young, unrefined’ Batman that will not feature the Clown Prince; or, somebody new will step into Hamill’s cavernous shoes. Neither of those prospects is terribly appealing. Still, Deathstroke could be an extremely capable Big Bad if given the right treatment, and he’s been sorely under-used so far.

Personally, I’m finding the lack of any mention of next-gen platforms to be rather interesting. Of course, they could be saving that for a later announcement – maybe sometime next month? – but it does leave the door open for a Rocksteady-made Arkham City sequel for next-gen consoles, which would be…eggcellent.

Of course, we then run the risk of Bat-saturation (baturation?) but that’s chance I’m willing to take.

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17 minutes of explosive Battlefield 4 gameplay is (totally) eclipsed by Bonnie Tyler

Look, EA, DICE, whoever – I’m willing to buy that Battlefield 4’s spec ops dudes have been throwing themselves off buildings for years, until they’ve built up an immunity towards fall damage and can treat a collapsing factory roof as nothing more than a mild annoyance. I can also believe that – in a touching homage to those fallen G.I. Joes at the back of the cupboard – these fine soldiers now come with detachable limbs that can be severed with merely a flick of a (friendly) knife, thus making battlefield – hah – surgeries but a moment’s work.

But do you really expect me to believe that these men, these highly trained professionals, can’t turn a goddamn radio off?

That’s the sort of rookie mistake that Call of Duty wouldn’t make, you mark my words.

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Beyond: Two Souls will hit stores on October 8th, now with more Willem Dafoe; kinda makes me feel like Riverdancing

Warning: if you thought Dafoe looked creepy earlier – and, be honest, you did – Dafoe plus motion-capture markers all over his face is practically nightmare-inducing.

But don’t let that distract you from the main news – we finally have a release date for Beyond! October 8th puts it just before the inevitable holiday madness; which, with any luck, will help it carve out some space for itself in consumer’s minds (and wallets).

UPDATE – CVG has in-game footage of Dafoe doing his thing, which I’ve embedded after the break.

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will shiver your timbers October 29th

Well, well, well. Just days after the existence of Assassin’s Creed IV was confirmed – and with two days still to go until Ubisoft’s official “reveal” on the 4th – the above trailer’s been leaked, courtesy of GamesRadar. While the original video has since been pulled from YouTube, we can safely assume that October 29th will see the fourth major entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, just a year after Assassin’s Creed III.

Black Flag stars Edward Kenway, father of Assassin’s Creed III’s charming ne’er-do-well Haytham Kenway. As such, it will almost certainly be a prequel; and, judging by the trailer, naval battles (my favourite part of Connor’s journey) look set to play a prominent role. So far, so good; even if so far, so little in terms of gameplay. It undoubtedly looks pretty enough, a worthy successor to this, this and this.

His official Wiki entry confirms that Edward was an Assassin, an ‘occasional pirate’ (gotta love those New World hobbyists!) and, most importantly, an ancestor of Desmond Miles. Also, in a first for the Assassin’s Creed series, he’s blonde! Who said Ubisoft can’t innovate, eh? (His golden tresses certainly seem to have impressed Blackbeard, given how effusive the bloodthirsty buccaneer’s being with his praise.)

We’ll know more when Black Flag is officially announced on Monday. For a look at the box art and a spoiler-filled analysis on what all of this could mean, man, click on past the break.

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