Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation

7.5 Overall Score
Graphics: 8/10
Story: 8/10
Replay Value: 6/10

Good Story | Lots Of Side Missions | Good Graphics

Uncompelling Online Multiplayer | Issues With Vita Features

Written by on November 9, 2012 in [, , , , , , , , , ]

It’s hard to believe that the Assassin’s Creed series has been around for five years already, but it’s easy to believe that in those five years it has become very popular and well loved. I often envy those who haven’t played it and get the chance to experience it for the first time. When Ubisoft announced Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for the PlayStation Vita, I was a little skeptical on whether it would live up to the Assassin’s Creed level of quality the fans have come to expect from the series. With all the trailers Ubisoft has been showing us since E3 2012, Liberation was starting to look pretty good. But would it be the game that would make me cherish my Vita for the amazing portable console it should be, instead of a glorified paper weight?

Upon starting up Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for the first time, you are greeted with a message from the Templar’s front company, Abstergo, welcoming you to the Animus you have just purchased. So yes, that means your Vita is now an Animus, which is actually kind of cool. I guess that means that Aveline is your ancestor somehow, and that you are an assassin. I can live with that, someone get me my hidden blade already, this assassin is ready to kill some Templars. The fact that the game is meant to be a product of Abstergo tells you a little of what you can expect through the story and how everything will be skewed against the assassins.

Liberation takes place in New Orleans in the late 1700s, near the end of the French-Indian War. It is here we are introduced to our first female protagonist in the Assassin’s Creed series: Aveline De Grandpre. Aveline grew up during the era of slavery, but thanks to her French merchant father, Aveline was raised in high society surrounded by wealth and respect, even though she was also half African on her mother’s side. Sometime after losing her mother as a child Aveline is trained to be an assassin by an escaped slave named Agate. He becomes Aveline’s mentor and helps her with her internal conflicts of trying to find her path between right and wrong. The main focus for Aveline is freeing the slaves, bringing down the Templars and maintaining her fathers business.

With Liberation being a Vita title, it has to allow for the player to be able to put down the game at the drop of a hat and pick it back up without loosing the focus of the missions. Ubisoft did a good job handling that by making the missions relatively short and quick, which is also good for replaying missions to achieve full synchronization without worrying if there is time for it. And although the story is a good one, cutting it down like that leaves something to be desired for a deeper and more immersive storyline. A good example is in the first sequence where we see Aveline as a child in the market with her mother. Then suddenly there is a quick cut scene and one camera swirl around young Aveline later, she is an adult and already an assassin. What happened to all the stuff in the middle of her story? How did Aveline find Agate and the Brotherhood in the first place? Why did the developers think that playing through Aveline’s story from the beginning was not important here like it was with Ezio in Assassin’s Creed II? Being able to experience Aveline’s journey from civilian to assassin would have strengthened the bond between player and character, which leads to the need to complete their story and even replay it.

Speaking of Ezio, Liberation takes an idea from his trilogy and gives us something similar to Subject 16. The Animus hacker for this story is called Citizen E, who gets introduced around Sequence 2. He reveals himself by hacking the Vita screen DOS style and says that he will be leaving clues to find him hiding in Aveline’s world. He is there to reveal the truth behind Aveline’s story and shows up at random points in the game. The idea of Citizen E and having to find him to get the truth is fun for a side mission, but the lack of clear instructions on how to do so can be frustrating. The lack of clear instructions was an issue with much of the side missions and extras in Liberation.

Liberation is packed with side missions and collectibles, which is always a plus. And while some of them are obvious on what you should be doing, others seem to presume that having little icons on the map will be enough to steer you in the right direction. One of the side missions that has the biggest financial pay off is running the merchant business her father owns. It is a buy and sell product mini game, where you can buy up to eight ships, stock them with cargo like sugar, tobacco, etc. and then send them to cities to buy and sell more cargo for profit. Once you figure it out, no thanks to the “tutorial,” it is a great way to make money. The second issue with this particular side mission was that it only had one location in the entire game. So any time you needed to check on your ships, you had to run all the way back to the warehouse to do it. Where the game lacked in necessary tutorials, it made up for in on screen corner notifications at every turn. It can get rather annoying to see this little text pop up in the corner giving you “tips” on how to do something you have been doing the entire game, such as jumping from viewpoints or fighting alligators.

Yes, I said fight alligators. They are spread out all through the bayou, usually protecting collectible alligator eggs. Although it is easy to take down an alligator, as it is a quick time event, seeing Aveline jump onto the alligator’s back and take him down still gives a certain satisfaction. Throughout Aveline’s story, she will have to travel from time to time. Her home is in New Orleans, but she will also visit the bayou and some Mayan temples in Mexico. While those places seem like they would make for an extensive world, it’s actually kind of small. Between all three locations there is less than 20 viewpoints, with New Orleans having the most. While the world size might be lackluster, the graphics are impressive. The body language and expressions of the characters are spot on, minus a few glitches here and there, and the scenery is just beautiful.

With all the special features the Vita possesses, it would be easy for a developer to cram so many of those into a game that it turns into a touch screen, motion detecting, messy demo.  Liberation seems to have found a nice medium. Some of the neat, yet simple, features it has are things like being able to use the touch screen to look at the map, change your weapons, select targets for a chain kill and rip open letters. That last part sounds odd, right? Well in some missions Aveline will intercept letters and the way you open them is by using the front and rear touchpads to swipe your fingers to the right across the top of the screen. Look at that, you have now opened a virtual letter. How clever of them. Until you get the letter open and you have to hold it up to a bright light using the rear camera to reveal a hidden map. Sounds cool in theory, but unless you have a flood light, lighthouse, or piece of the sun stashed in your home, you might be in for a little aggravation. It seems to react best to sunlight, which means night time play is not the best of ideas.

Another feature that seems interesting in theory that turned out to be more irritating than it should have been, was pickpocketing. On the console version you are able to hit a simple button and do it easily, however the Vita allows Liberation to take it to a whole new level. To pickpocket in Liberation you have to tap on the desired target, hold down L1 while aiming the game camera at the target and then swipe your finger down the back of the touchpad. Swiping a finger sounds easy enough, even with both of your hands being completely involved in this one little act. Too bad the touchpad isn’t always responsive, or perhaps your target is on the move and so your in game camera keeps moving and you end up pickpocketing the wrong person. If you can manage to get passed those minor gimmicks, the controls handle just like they would on a big console version. Free running is much smoother and has been improved so much that the famous Assassin’s Creed series’ problem of missing your targeted spot and falling to your death doesn’t happen nearly as much as it did in prior games. Plus, running through the bayou from tree to tree is a nice change of pace from scaling buildings in the city. The only downside for the trees is that they have a set path for the most part, so if you want to go in a different direction, you’ll have to run on foot or find a different tree path.

Don’t count on hopping from tree to tree while Aveline is dressed as her Lady persona, because that is out of the question. TMG has previously reported about the three disguises Aveline uses to complete her missions; after some hands-on experience, they each have their own flaws. The three personas Aveline has at her disposal are the Lady, the Slave and the Assassin. The Lady is good for high society events, where Aveline is able to charm or bribe the guards. But because she is a Lady, she is very limited in the weapons she carries and can’t run very fast or climb anything but stairs. So once Aveline gets in trouble with the guards, she just has to fight them; escaping is almost impossible. Another flaw to the Lady is that she is seen as an easy target and some thugs, which run faster than Aveline, will try to rob her. But at least you can charm a guard to escort you around and keep the thugs away.

The Slave persona is the second best for most missions, because it only has one restriction: no guns equipped on you. You can free run and climb buildings as fast as the Assassin persona and you get a couple extra perks. While dressed as a slave, Aveline can incite riots to distract the guards and there are more accessible hiding spots. She can blend in with random groups of slaves on the street or she can pick up a crate which instantly blends her into the background.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Assassin persona. With this persona Aveline gets use of all weapons (yes that means the guns) and, of course, it allows you to run and climb like a master. Its only downfall is that you gain notoriety faster than any other persona, but with a little bribe to the right officials, you can lower that with no problem. Besides, who doesn’t love kicking some butt as an assassin when you get detected?

Assassin’s Creed and kicking butt go hand in hand, especially when Ubisoft added multi-player back in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Too bad somebody dropped the ball in Liberation. When you choose to play multi-player, you are basically choosing to play a Facebook game. You first choose a side you want to fight for: Assassins or Abstergo. Once that is decided you see a globe with a bunch of nodes and meters that show which side has control of that node. You pick the avatar of a fighter and send them to battle against your opponent’s avatar to win points that count toward claiming that node. You don’t see any fighting, just two avatars standing next to each with a stat list, and then a second later it tells you if you won or lost. That’s it. It’s very disappointing considering they try to make it seem as though this game is as good as any console game. If that is true, then why couldn’t we have real multi-player instead of this horrid Facebook style waste of time?

Although Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation has a few downsides, overall it is a pretty good game that will definitely give you your Assassin’s Creed fix on the go. But is it the game that says, “I am worth purchasing a Vita for?” No, not so much. If you have a Vita, then by all means, you should play it at least once. However if you do not have a Vita and you are looking for an excuse to buy one, this is not the reason. Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation sets a new standard for Vita games. Had it added real multi-player and fixed a few minor issues, it would definitely be the game that makes the Vita the must-have item of the year. Perhaps Ubisoft will try again and make an even better game next time around.

A copy of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation was provided to TMG for evaluation and review.


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Author: Samantha Olvera View all posts by
Tester at Aperture Labs, vacations in Rapture, and leaps from buildings into haystacks for fun. I love gaming almost as much as I love my two kiddos. I play for fun, but I aim to win.

2 Comments on "Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation"

  1. zhao November 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    a few extra tips are:
    1:when pitpoketing, you can simply press (not hold) the L button. this little action makes pitpoketing easier, but dont for get to press the L button agian or you will be stuck in aiming mode until otherwise. pitpoketing is also easier if you steadily drag your finger downward at a steady pace instead of swiping.
    2:the slave persona gains notery the easiest. the assassian persona only gains notery when preforming illegal actions such as looting, killing, etc. however, the assassin persona has a minimum notery level of 1.

    And i agree, it is an amazing game with a few mechanics that tend to be frustrating at times

  2. Gustavo Ramirez November 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Great review Samantha! If i still had my Vita, I would try this for sure.

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