Assassin's Creed III: Liberation Review
- Posted November 2nd, 2012 at 00:19 EDT by Timothy Nunes
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The PS Vita receives a wonderful, but slightly flawed, exclusive Assassin's Creed title in Liberation.
- Favorable, simplistic gameplay
- Beautiful sounds and visuals
- Entire experience is engrossing
- Multiplayer mode is a phone app
- Re-occuring combat issues native to series
- Random glitches throughout
Ubisoft won the hearts of many at E3 when it showcased Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, and even won some awards in the process, but consumers are another matter entirely. The Assassin's Creed series has an immensely loyal following that demands games to be better as they grow and diversify. Ubisoft has a lot of ground to cover with Liberation, and the portability of it isn't enough on its own to make it cover that ground. Bringing an Assassin's Creed title to PlayStation Vita shows us that Ubisoft wants Sony’s portable hardware to be successful as well, but does it do the handheld any favors? Well, the answer to that is yes and no, it's about 80-20, respectively.
Liberation plays out the life of Aveline de Grandpré, but her story isn't as clear cut as previous hero Ezio Auditore. Instead of a definitive role in the conflict between the Templars and Assassins, she tries to establish herself through her beliefs as those around her pull her every which way through the plot. What's unique about this experience is that it's not entirely clear if she's working for the Templars or the Assassins, and this theme continues for about half of the game. What is certain, however, is that Liberation has a story that twists and turns until it all comes crashing together in the final sequences.
Ubisoft appears to be using this opportunity to extend the light narrative aspect from the multiplayer modes of previous titles. It's revealed early on that the story of Aveline is intended to train new recruits at Abstergo Industries to become Templar fighters. This initially feels like a negative way to present a game, since a story manipulated by Abstergo's Templars would make it one-sided and not interesting. Alongside that is the fact that the core storyline only lasts about twelve hours. However, with the help of an unknown character, Citizen E, players begin to see the truth of Aveline's story intentionally hidden by Abstergo. This may be too revealing, but this part of the story is introduced in the beginning three sequences and the bigger twists happen much later. Citizen E shows himself in the main storyline, but he branches off into the traditional breakdown of other side quests--like fist fights, assassinations, and gathering quests--that happen to come along during the story. It's also important to mention that the default ending is not the true ending. Trust me when I say that it's intended, and the "actual" story is unlocked when more collectibles are gathered.
As we've seen with Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines, it can be hard to translate the much-loved gameplay of the series into a handheld, but Ubisoft has managed to find the perfect middle ground between the console games and the PS Vita hardware. Acclimatising to the controls takes a little time especially with other AC games fresh on your mind. Liberation only has two exposure levels instead of three, so all running, climbing, and robust killing outside of combat is executed by holding L1 alongside other assigned controls. Since there's no full sprint present, the game starts off slowly. In assurance, the game flow speeds up quickly; in fact, the controls become fluid in the game very early, combining traditional commands and planned automation. Things like long jumps while traversing or aerial assassinations are performed by holding L1. Under a microscope, this lack of involvement in gameplay sounds boring, but the joy to this game is simply watching Aveline parkour across buildings with minimal effort. Better still is navigating the Bayou, a rich swamp that becomes more engaging than New Orleans. Flying across strategically-aligned branches and fallen trees is so engrossing that it replaces the simplicity of actually doing it. It's also advantageous to the experience itself, leaving the game open to the discretion of the player rather than forcing a struggle with complicated controls that normally plague handheld renditions of console titles.
Much like its console counterparts, store fronts, and dressing houses that are used to change personas, can be bought and used to customize attire and provide weapon and bag capacity upgrades. One unique addition, though not quite as involved, is the ability to buy ships and use them to import and export goods to and from the colony. These don't really affect or even create any sort of actual economy, but ... (continued on next page)