The Assassin's Creed franchise has occasionally run aground. We spent too much time with our Italian friend and the revolutionary era colonies became a drudgery. While not all that revolutionary, Assassin's Creed 3 did introduce us to something new that slaked our thirst from hours of stale and dry gameplay. The naval battles were so brilliant an addition to the series that Black Flag has embraced it whole heartedly. But, Ubisoft decided to create an entire mobile game taking place at sea. Lets see if Assassin's Creed Pirates deserves all the booty, or if it should be thrown into the brig.

If you're already a fan of the Assassin's Creed franchise or are already on the fence about this game, its time for you to light the fuse on that download cannon. Assassin's Creed Pirates is one of those games that makes me happy to have an iPhone. It takes an aspect of Assassin's Creed that we all love, pares it down to simple but effective gameplay, and lets us loose on the Caribbean to plunder a lot of fun out of our devices.

Pirate lingo aside, this is one gorgeous looking game. You can be sure that every ounce of the iPhone 5S processor is being utilize to tease that retina display into beautiful shapes and colors. I was even impressed the way the sea was rendered with all of those wonderful undulations and refractions of light. The ships themselves are so detailed that even from the zoomed out view, you can see the stalwart deckhand preparing the canons for battle.

The story itself is a essentially a thin excuse to get involved in battles with rival pirates and local navy galleons. You start out locked up in the brig until you're busted out by a notorious pirate who sets you on a path of thievery and swashbuckling on the high seas. The dialogue is conveyed through detailed 2D avatars that slink on and off screen to have conversations. Their cartoony rendering gives them just enough life to be likable and I found myself enjoying the somewhat quirky dialog.

The gameplay feels like it has been thoroughly crafted for a touchscreen interface. You're never more than a tap or two from raising full sails, plundering treasure from a shipwreck, or upgrading the guns on your deck.

The all important combat in Assassin's Creed Pirates is full of possibilities without being bloated. To fire on your enemies, you hold the screen and move your finger to aim. Release to fire your weapons at the attacking ship. Besides having to choose which type of gun you'd like to use and which power ups, it is really simple and very intuitive. I found myself forgetting about the controls and becoming immersed in every sea battle I came across.

For those of you looking for a bit more of an insight into the bonkers lore behind Assassin's Creed, you won't find too much in Pirates, so it may leave some gasping for a bit more. I'm not sure who, since I checked out of the Assassin's Creed plot long ago and barely have a clue as to what is going on anymore. But, mucking about in history has always been fun, and I'm not going to let a silly thing like story get into the way of me realizing my childhood dream of being Dreadbeard, the clean-shaven terror of St. Martin!

Assassin's Creed Pirates isn't some cash in on Assassin's Creed 4, it is a damn good game that stands right up on its own. It is epic, engaging, and most of all fun. It doesn't wear out its welcome with bloated mechanics or unnecessary plot. It distills the essence of what we loved about the naval battles and puts it at your fingertips.


App Store Link: Assassin's Creed Pirates for iPhone and iPad | By Ubisoft  | Price: $4.99 | Version: 1.0 |  537 MB | Rating 9+

9.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating