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Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation – PlayStation Vita

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation – PlayStation Vita

box artPlatform: PlayStation Vita

Developer: Ubisoft Sofia

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release Date: October 30, 2012

Genre: Action/Adventure

Nerd Rating: 6/10

Reviewed By: Steroid Gamer

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been around since 2007 and it took until 2012 to have a leading lady take the spotlight.  In Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation you play as Aveline, a young woman of New Orleans who found herself abandoned by her mother as a young girl and was taken in by a rich New Orleans political figure (could have been her biological father but the game isn’t very clear about it).  This isn’t the first handheld Assassin’s Creed game, but it is the first game in the series to find its way to the PlayStation Vita. Liberation takes several bold steps in trying to shake up the franchise’s formula but the result often left me wanting to see those steps expanded upon further.  Liberation feels like you’re only getting a tiny taste of a slice as opposed to eating the whole pie.

4 vs. 1.  Now that's not very fair is it?

4 vs. 1. Now that’s not very fair is it?

Liberation does a good job of utilizing the Vita’s hardware.  The graphics look fantastic and in some ways the world feels more alive than previous games in the franchise.  Liberation takes place across three different areas; New Orleans, an alligator infested Bayou, and a Mexican jungle that has remains of Aztecan pyramids.  The city of New Orleans is fairly decent in size, but it comes nowhere near the scale of its bigger brother console releases.  Most buildings are fairly short in size and the only few that are grand in height are the same building model, just recycled in about four different places.  The Bayou is the biggest of the three locations and was the most intriguing to explore.  Murky-thick waters surrounded both small and larger bodies of land that consisted of, mostly, “huts” or “shacks”.  Free roaming alligators inhabited the Bayou but didn’t really provide a challenge other than an easy QTE.  Mexico hinted at the chance to explore vast Aztecan ruins but it doesn’t deliver.  The area is very tiny and other than one very linear underground section, this part of the game felt like a wasted opportunity.

The story itself makes absolutely no sense.  Some of this is because, aside from Aveline, all the other characters are boring and extreme stereotypes.  The story “tries” to have plot twists and turns but you’ll see them all coming a mile away.  The only true reason to see the story all the way through, besides wanting to beat the game of course, is to find the answer to an over-arching question Aveline continuously finds herself looking for.  Sadly, this question isn’t really answered so much as it is “presented.”  Bottom-line: don’t expect for a big payoff.  The character animations are nice aside from the facial expressions.  Most of them are oddly deformed, or have the character’s lips extremely out of sync to the dialogue.  Aveline is about the only exception.  It appears as if Ubisoft Sofia spent all the development time making Aveline look good in cutscenes and completely neglected everyone else.  I get the idea behind making your “star” look attractive, but in this case it’s more of a “one diamond amongst a bunch of turds”.

Hope you enjoying eavesdropping because you'll be doing plenty of it.

Hope you enjoying eavesdropping because you’ll be doing plenty of it.

The gameplay itself and mission structure will all be familiar to Assassin’s Creed veterans.  You’ll do some eavesdropping, steal some things, assassinate a few people, and trail some dastardly foes.  The unique premise behind Liberation is the ability to switch personas.  Aveline can be one of three persona types each with their own unique abilities.  The Assassin persona is pretty basic with Aveline controlling like other protagonist in the previous games; she can wield a sword, climb buildings, hide in hay barrels etc.  The Slave persona allows her to draw less attention to herself, but still have the abilities of the assassin.  The drawback here is that the “slave” can’t equip any suspicious weapons or objects; like a sword.  Finally, there is the Lady persona.  Here Aveline wears a dress and goes completely incognito to all guards and can even bribe them with a little flirtation.  This persona loses mobility as Aveline can’t scale walls, or trees, or really even run much for that matter; it’s more about blending in.

The idea behind this premise is a great one.  I expected to have several different missions where I got to play as the various personas and hopefully even get to choose which persona I wanted to use based on my own play style.  Sadly, this isn’t the case in Liberation.  Other than a few tutorial missions the game rarely designs missions around a specific persona.  At first, this might seem great since it would mean the game never forces you to play as a specific persona.  However, there are missions where the game will prohibit you from using one of the two, usually the Lady persona.   In the end I found it easier to just always play as the Assassin since that persona was more than capable of doing everything the game threw at me.   The idea behind the personas is neat, but unfortunately it feels like a wasted opportunity.

No, these aren't spit-wads.....sadly.  They are poison darts though.

No, these aren’t spit-wads…..sadly. They are poison darts though.

The game itself is pretty easy and doesn’t really provide much of a challenge as it does frustration.  For whatever reason the guards in Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation are super sensitive.  Aveline could be completely incognito and simply sneeze or blink an eye and the nearest guard and his buddies come chasing after her.  It’s super easy to run away from a guard in Liberation, but most missions are going to waste your time running around trying to lose your tail.  Ubisoft Sofia decided it would be a good idea to have missions forcing you to not be seen.  This is nothing new to the franchise, but in Liberation some checkpoints place you right next to a guard who get’s alerted by walking in his view.  Unless you want to restart the whole mission you’re going to be stuck in an endless loop of being caught and having to retry.  For the most part the game controls fine.  Occasionally when running for long periods of time the game would quit “reading” the Vita’s shoulder buttons being held down causing Aveline to start walking instead of running.  The biggest issue with this occurs when “free running” in the Bayou’s trees.  Here if you stop running and fall, you’re going to land in the swamp and have to swim your way to shore.  Multiple times the game quit recognizing my button prompts and landed Aveline in a muddy pool.  The swim back is a long one….trust me.

Don’t ask me why the game is attached to Assassin’s Creed 3.  Other than a short and pathetic excuse for a tie-in mission with Connor (AC 3’s protagonist) Liberation has nothing to do with Assassins Creed 3.  There is a “multiplayer” mode if you want to call it that.   It’s very awful and is a huge disappointment if you were expecting something equivalent to the multiplayer seen on consoles.  Basically, you just keep touching the Vita’s screen through a bunch of menus and then the game simulates a “fight” between your Assassin’s and those of another person.  Yes, it’s as boring as it sounds

Awfully, high up there and not a pile of hay insight.  What's a girl to do?

Awfully, high up there and not a pile of hay insight. What’s a girl to do?

On the outside Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation looks very promising.  It’s the first game in the franchise with a female lead, has all new locations to explore, is on portable platform, and has multiplayer.  The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” (or video game in this case) is in full effect here.  Just in the opposite way where looking at Liberation might intrigue you only to find there’s not much good going on with it.  Sure, the world and graphics are nice and very impressive for a handheld.  At the same time the story is bland, mission structure plays it too safe and the one unique attribute (using different personas) isn’t utilized in a memorable fashion.  Add in a lackluster excuse at “multiplayer” and you end up with a game that’s not quite forgettable but not quite memorable either.  If you’re a diehard Assassin’s Creed fan, than Liberation isn’t so awful it should be avoided.  However, if you’re on the fence about Liberation, or the franchise in general, I highly advice skipping Assassin’s Creed III Liberation.

Written by Sean Collins

Sean Collins

Sean Collins (aka Steroid Gamer) started playing video games when he was 8 years old. His first console was a Nintendo 64 and his first game was Mario Kart 64. He fell in love immediately and has been playing games ever since.

My current systems include; N64, Gameboy Color, Gamecube, Wii, 3DS, PS3, Vita, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360.

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