I know, I'm late to playing it, but I just found it (and Thief) at the right price, so I picked it up. And, it's fun. I was told that the naval battles were what sold it, and I slightly have to disagree. While they are fun in most cases (I'm having trouble at the forts in harder areas,) they do seem a tad over-hyped from what I've experienced. No, for me, the big seller is the game's story, which is intriguing.
Edward Kenway is a pirate from back in the days of Blackbeard who comes across the titular Creed, but unlike Altair, Ezio and Connor, he's just in it for the money. Which is a refreshing take on the franchise. He comes across a number of infamous pirates, like the aforementioned Blackbeard, as he has to find something called the Observatory. What is it? Where is it? He doesn't know and neither do I.
The visuals, even on my XBox 360, are pretty impressive. I noticed how smooth the game looked and ran as I scaled the walls in Havana (I don't know what the FPS is, to be honest.) For gameplay, we have three kinds of controls. Free-running, naval battles and on-foot battles. Free-running is what it sounds like. Now, I will say that I've found myself wanting to go up certain things, like a rope-tied pole, but ended up running into it. Or start climbing up a wall, then stop for no apparent reason. Other than that, it's fine. The naval battles are, like I said, slightly over-hyped but are still pretty fun. Once you weaken an enemy's ship enough, you can then board it and take it over. Taking over a Man O' War, which is the game's highest level ship, and sending it to my own personal fleet was more gratifying than I thought it would have been.
Then we have the on-foot combat. I saved this for the last of the three, and with good reason. First off, there's actually two kinds of attack modes. Much like the Batman: Arkham games, you have the stealth/predator modes and the combat modes. In stealth mode, you can, for example, hide in bushes then whistle at a guard. And once they investigate, you spring out, ripping them into the bushes while simultaneously stabbing them in the neck. Or, you could sneakily sprint up behind them and make them eat dirt with a dagger in the back. This mode IS FUN! The combat mode IS NOT!
If you saw Angry Joe's "Top 32 Reasons Why Fable III Sucks" video, you can apply the same issue here - the combat is WORTHLESS and has been since the first game. For three of the five types of enemies you encounter, you first have to stun them with your gun (I'll get to that in a second,) or break their defense. Attacking them head on, like most people would do, will end up in them attacking you. The only other way to attack them is to LET them swing at you, then counter them and press either the attack or shoot button. This will kill them...save for the Brutes. The Brutes are about a foot taller and wield a polearm. You cannot counter these guys - all you do is make a somersault away from his attack. And he's strong, hence the name. But, he also has grenades. The only way I've figured out how to kill him is to pull two break defenses, which lays him out on the ground, then attack, which kills him. But, you have to make sure he's the only guy left, otherwise anyone else WILL attack you, stopping you from killing him. I end up trying to run half the time so that I could attempt to switch it over to stealth mode and kill them the fun way. Also, two things about the pistols. First off, if you can shoot them mid-combat, it only kills the two lower enemies. I think two shots kill the higher ups, but I haven't tested it out yet. Second, and this also applies to the swords, the weapons upgrade system - to me - doesn't seem to have any effect on the actual combat.
All that said, Black Flag is a decently fun game with it's share of flaws. My rating is a 7/10. If they changed the combat any, it would've been an 8/10.