The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag Review


Here at we are no stranger to receiving the occasional art book from Titan Books that bode well with accompanying your favourite franchise. Having read every page of Halo: The Art of Building Worlds, The Art of Dead Space, we are pleased to now peruse the pages of The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag in hardback written by Paul Davies (Official Nintendo, CVG).

Whether you are a hardcore fan of Assassin’s Creed or not, there is no denying that the story telling within the franchises’ history from Ubisoft is utterly compelling. It reels you in slowly and uses factual events from the past as modern day entertainment on our consoles, but with some stunning environments of a world that once was; you can only imagine how much detail and planning went into the lavishly depicted environments.  This is where an accompanying art book can step in and show you how everything that you have enjoyed playing originated in art form. It also allows the games’ art directors to tell you the concept behind each scene and explain their reasoning for such detail in the interactive environments that we get to see on screen.


Abstergo as shown in glorious detail over a few pages

Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag is a game that is available now on Xbox 360 and shortly for Xbox One, we scored the Xbox 360 edition 8/10 in our review:

One of the best changes to the actual gameplay Ubisoft have made is the tweaks to the infamous tailing sequences—mostly in the form of an overhauled Eagle Vision system. Now, besides seeing the group affiliation of everyone in a crowd, you can also tag your targets. This allows you to see them through walls and buildings so you can follow them from a much farther distance than in previous entries. This can make sneaking around heavily populated enemy islands and forts a lot easier. That said, it can and does feel a little over powered at times. X-ray vision is something just shouldn’t exist in this game, in my opinion. Another change that players will no doubt be thankful for is the new gun mechanics. Much more similar to what we come to expect in traditional third-person-shooter’s, you’ll find it is much easier to use your pistols and pull off headshots.

The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, is broken down into sections relating key elements of the main video game. Starting with ABSTERGO, the concept art for Abstergo Entertainment HQ includes intricate ship structures and Caribbean vegetation to help with a sense of immersion in the new environments of Assassin’s Creed IV. The book shows how Abstergo’s lobby area was originally inspired by Japanese architecture and culture before the nautical themes took more prominence to suit the game’s theme and spirit. You can immediately sense from the concept designs and art that although a small area within the game itself, every single room has to make a connection to the game to give a feel for the conflict between antiquity and modernity. The lab-like ascetics depict well the undertone to Abstergo and perhaps some hidden agenda.


Edward Kenway – imagined in ways you have not previously seen!

DRAMATIS PERSONAE, highlights the key art for the pirates themselves which make up the characters within the two factions who are embroiled in the secret war between the Templars and the Assassin’s. Key artists who worked on creating the look of the main protagonist Edward Kenway, explain how a young brash character born in Cardiff UK is first a pirate who later becomes an Assassin, how a hero with many complexities was visually inspired by Patrick Swayze in the movie Point Break!  The book later details how many of the Pirates were easier to create once a ‘main’ look had been established; it was then a matter of visual patchworks and a mix of uniforms. Graphically the art book details key characters and how their appearance responds to their personality traits from both factions. It proves to be very informative, I didn’t personally review the game for, but through the book I have detailed understanding of the story, the characters and the environments featured within it.

A TALE OF THREE CITIES, Art Director Raphael Lacoste retraces the steps of bringing to life three very different cities within Assassin’s Creed IV and touches on the many months creating landscapes and landmarks that feature within the game. Havana, Kingston and Nassau all have outstanding beautiful concept art designs that show how the design team reflect the feeling of order, stormy atmospherics and coastal shallow reef’s to present a pirates life. Old Forts, Shipwrecks, Graveyards and a series of illustrations that were actually used for pitching missions could be framed artwork in their own right! What the art book also interestingly allows you to see is some of the cut environments from the game also – Port au Prince was a whole city entirely cut from the game, but some of the buildings were inspiration for other areas within the main game. With this chapter you get an interesting take on how Port au Prince was a town built on strong slopes. You never know it might return as DLC in the future or a sequel?


Includes concept art for cities removed completely from the main game

Although there are chapters that show the art of exploration and sea battles, the key chapter for me and the highlight of the book itself is PIRATE LIFE, a whole section dedicated to the dramatic settings within Assassin’s Creed IV and how the initial thought of how meeting Blackbeard must have been a breathtaking moment. This for artist Kobe Sek was the most satisfying concept for the project because of the mood that needed to be expressed in design form. This chapter also shows some of the fine weapons, and sailing ships used as concepts which are very detailed in their designs.  You can see how the game has evolved from initial thought process to portraying life on the actual ships – how pirates lived, breathed and the tools needed for their piracy operations. The art work in this section is absolutely stunning and it is easy to forget how important that art direction plays in the concept of video game design. The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag will show you many important aspects of the latest video game through the eyes of the art team and how everything pieces together and evolved into what you are likely playing now on your Xbox 360.

The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag is available to buy now from TitanBooks via this direct link, and would make a great addition to your gaming memorabilia or to gain deeper insight into the development of the Black Flag itself. As always hardcover art books make great gifts for gamers and if you’re stuck for a present to buy this Christmas for a gamer, why not make it a book?

Thanks to TitanBooks for providing with The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag.

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