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Opinion: Black Flag can plunder Assassin's Creed 3's spoils, and we'll all be richer

Monday Muse: Andy Robinson expects Ubisoft's hard work to finally pay off in 2013

Given the series' scope and ambition, Ubisoft does an absolutely incredible job pumping out a new Assassin's Creed every year and, overlooking the occasional flaws, it delivers a quality product every time.

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

However with Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag promising another bold reinvention, the mind cannot help but drift back to the various under-developed features of Assassin's Creed 3 - a game I feel could've been significantly better if granted extra construction time.

Don't get me wrong; the 2012 blockbuster is an incredible technical and artistic achievement. Ubisoft's recreation of 18th century America is, as always, stunning in its authenticity, while its core mechanics, breadth of content and those excellent naval missions match the best the series has to offer.

AC3's flaws are skin-deep, which perhaps makes it even more frustrating. An extra six months could've - in theory - allowed time for the dev team to trim and expand the script, humanising Connor's somewhat robotic persona and given more motivation to his murderous missions (though obviously, extending a project which already stretched over three years was not going to be likely).

With time to reflect on the final product, those few, flawed and forced stealth missions might've been cut and maybe, just maybe, the men and women in charge would've decided to loosen the chains on the often rigid and linear assassination tasks.

Let's also not forget that, at launch, Assassin's Creed 3 was a game littered with bugs (Ubisoft quickly released an enormous patch). A real shame; with time the publisher could've polished a great Assassin's Creed instalment into one of the very best.

I have reason to hope Black Flag won't suffer the same mistakes. With Assassin's Creed 3, Ubisoft's teams had to set in train the series' future; developing an entirely new (next-gen ready) engine, creating thousands of rebuilt animations and crafting the galleon-load of assets required to deliver a setting worthy of the franchise.

With the heaviest lifting out of the way, Black Flag's development teams can - in theory at least - plunder the good ideas and assets already in place. With a more colourful story, fresher character, and the free-form gameplay fans desire, this could see it deliver a far better experience than its predecessor.

A legend returns

Almost five years after her last core adventure, Lara Croft returns this week in Square Enix's rebooted Tomb Raider.


In CVG's Tomb Raider review Matt Gilman calls Lara's return "Violent, scary, ambitious and inventive" dishing out a generous score of 9.0.

Other press have been similarly generous with their Tomb Raider review scores, and the franchise reinvention currently carries a Metacritic score of 87.

It seems here's at least one franchise then that's seeing the benefit of time and ambition.

Along with Tomb Raider, this week's other big release is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate for 3DS. Stay tuned for our review, which will go live tomorrow morning.

Also, just a quick word to plug our excellent new video output at CVG. We're now running LivePlay content on Thursdays at 6pm GMT (1pm Eastern) - make sure you check out our Twich channel here.