Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag Features for PS4

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7Out of 10
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Ubisoft's long awaited Watch Dogs releases next week, and, somewhat controversially, the publisher has revealed that the review embargo lifts the same day (you can look for our verdict on the 27 May at 8am BST).

Many feel this means the much-delayed open world title will suck. But what can history teach us about such matters? looks back over a select choice of games that also tied their 'umbongo' into launch day to see if a trend exists…

Aliens: Colonial Marines
Publisher: Sega
Developer: 'Gearbox Software' (Timegate Studios)
Score: 3/10

Aliens: Colonial Marines screenshot

A poor start for our theory… After what felt like decades of waiting, Sega finally unleashed the - at one time - pretty decent looking Colonial Marines to utter misery. Aside from being a near broken mess, a lot of your time was spent shooting at other human beings. So much for the aliens, then…

It still went on to perform very well, but remains a genuine disappointment - and piece of garbage - that many individuals still aren't over. That's one point in the 'Oh, shit, Watch Dogs reviews are being held back to release day' panic box.

Conspiracy Theory: 1. Nothing To Worry About: 0.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward
Score: 10/10

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 screenshot

For one reason or another, all Call of Duty titles for the last few years have had their reviews legally hidden away until the game is officially out. Modern Warfare 2 is a reason why on occasions that can be a bad idea.

Already prepped for great things given it was the sequel to COD 4 - the game that at one point in time everyone loved, but now pretend such affection was never the case - MW2 didn't need any more hype than it already had. Regardless, in this instance there was no ulterior meaning behind any of Activision's plans. It got a perfect score…

Conspiracy Theory: 1. Nothing To Worry About: 1.

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Score: 7/10

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag screenshot

Assassin's Creed 4 divided a lot of people. While a large number were very keen on the pirate direction the franchise had decided to go in, the same problems that had been weighing on Ubisoft's series continued to do so here. Cue varying scores and a few people scratching their heads as to what's next.

Does that mean reviews were held back because of these concerns? Or is it just Ubisoft policy? We couldn't say either way. But as stands by its 10-point scale in the proper way, it's another point in the 'relax' column.

Conspiracy Theory: 1. Nothing To Worry About: 2.

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Kojima Productions
Score: 8/10

Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes screenshot

The real argument here - that seemed to rage on forever - was whether Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes was too short. Steve Burns argued that it wasn't. A lot of other people disputed that. No one was allowed to say how they felt until the hallowed release day, mind, and, much like Assassin's Creed, it seemed to do a good job in hurling people onto each side of the fence.

For all the chatter beforehand, though, Ground Zeroes still found an audience who were very receptive and positive towards it.

Conspiracy Theory: 1. Nothing To Worry About: 3.

Dark Souls 2
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: FROM Software
Score: 10/10

Dark Souls 2 screenshot

While it has its haters, Dark Souls 2 is universally loved on many accounts. The 'gamer's' game of choice, the sequel was met by some with the fanfare usually reserved for a Hulk Hogan meet-and-greet. FROM Software probably could've just re-released the first iteration and thousands of people would still have gotten something out of it.

On our end, we clearly loved it. Even though the review went live the same day as the game was available in stores. So there…

Conspiracy Theory: 1. Nothing To Worry About: 4.

Bound By Flame
Publisher: Focus Interactive
Developer: Spiders
Score: 2/10

Bound By Flame screenshot

Well… this one is kinda obvious, isn't it? Bound By Flame had every chance to be a decent RPG that benefited hugely from being in the right place at the right time. With a genuine thirst for 'new-gen' content, a solid role-playing game would've ticked a lot of boxes for a lot of people. Instead, it sucked. And it sucked so bad our own Jim Trinca went as low as to give it a 2.

You could say the developer knew what awaited them. You could say that…

Conspiracy Theory: 2. Nothing To Worry About: 4.

Dead Space 3
Publisher: EA
Developer: Visceral Games
Score: 5/10

Dead Space 3 screenshot

Dead Space is the most interesting inclusion to this list. Dead Space scored an 8. Dead Space 2 scored an 8. Dead Space 3 scored a 5. Each review was kept in a tight container until the game's official release date.

As before, it's arguable that this was simply the policy EA took with its survival horror franchise for one reason or another. For those who like a bit of smoke with their fire, however, it could also be said there was a touch of worry about each version and the publisher decided to do what they could to keep interest high…

Conspiracy Theory: 3. Nothing To Worry About: 4.

Wolfenstein: The New Order
Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: MachineGames
Score: 6/10

Wolfenstein: The New Order screenshot

Another one of those games that had people discussing both the good and the bad, Wolfenstein raised similar eyebrows when it soon became apparent its reviews would not see the light of the day until the game itself emerged from the shadows.

Although we didn't rate it as highly as some, it's still a somewhat enjoyable shooter and, again, we deem a 6 to be above average. Therefore, the conspiracy theory seems to be just that: a conspiracy. Or is it…

Conspiracy Theory: 3. Nothing To Worry About: 5.

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User Comments

Pip0707's Avatar

Pip0707@ Underwhelmed

Pre-ordering get you free content if you buy the game on the day it releases, why wouldn't you pre-order it? Buying digital is dumb it takes up hard drive space and cost the same as a physical copy but doesn't have any value at all once you beat it it. You can at least trade a physical copy for some value.
Posted 00:46 on 26 May 2014


I think this was a good quick thing to show. Many people think embargoes mean bad things for a game in terms of quality, when clearly that isn't always the case.
Really don't think WatchDogs is any different, thinking it'll be bad because of review embargoes is a very presumptuous idea without any credit. If people are worried and comforted by reviews to curb their spending habits, very well. But don't shoot down everyone else's choices. I'm preordering based on what i've seen of the game recently. Unless they do a Colonial Marines, i'm going to enjoy it.
Posted 15:09 on 24 May 2014

Neon-Soldier32@ Underwhelmed

Often though it can be cheaper to pre order and it's delivered often early. Plus, living in the UK, games are often released 3 days after the US meaning if a game is crap then you can easily cancel that pre order without any damage.
Posted 23:29 on 23 May 2014
Underwhelmed's Avatar

Underwhelmed@ Neon-Soldier32

Pre-ordering is dumb. Unless you don't care about wasting the money, there is absolutely no reason an adult person cannot wait until release date to buy a video game. Especially in the age of digital distribution, scarcity is a non-issue for most people.
Posted 18:14 on 23 May 2014
mikey126's Avatar


everyone should be worried about this game period...
Posted 14:48 on 23 May 2014
mrimpatient35's Avatar


Every unofficial review of the game was pretty damn good. 5/5 and 19/20. I'm also including the people who played it and loved it (podcasts). Seems like it will be a very good game. I'm guessing 8-9/10.
Posted 14:41 on 23 May 2014
NinetiesKid's Avatar


Predicting a 7. You heard it here first
Posted 13:50 on 23 May 2014

Neon-Soldier32@ skidoosh

The 'article' says nothing: It's a haphazardly thrown together click-baiting item.

The answer, as with most things, is that release date review embargos vary on whether they're a good or bad thing.

My pre order got cancelled and I'm glad it did now since the embargo is release date. If it's a decent game then I'll order it, no problem, but if not then I'll wait until after the summer when it drops down in price.
Posted 13:33 on 23 May 2014
Bloodstorm's Avatar


Staff at a store (not saying which one) told me they're not happy with recent developments with the game and already cancelled their pre-orders.
Posted 13:00 on 23 May 2014


So what you're saying is no?

This isn't really as in-depth as it needs to be. What parts of the game were focused on at their announcement? What was the focus at release?

It's not just the release day 'umbongo' that unsettles the informed 'games' amongst us. It's the tonal and focus shifts that makes me wonder the most. At the start, ubi focused on the mechanics of the world, the ai, the fighting style Aiden Pearce being scrappy because 'he's just a guy' and quest acquisition. But now it's shooty shooty, shiny shiny, LOOK AT THE MOTHER F**CKING RAIN! and Spider Tank (which looks quite fun).

So that said, I'm not really bothered about the umbongo, just everything else.
Posted 12:43 on 23 May 2014


Posted 11:15 on 23 May 2014

Game Stats

Release Date: 22/11/2013
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 319 6
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