A Whole New Assassin
The PS Vita didn’t have a strong showing at this year’s E3 (or much of any showing for that matter), and with questionable support from Sony and a lacking of third-party developments, the few Vita faithful who slapped down two-hundred and fifty smackers for the unit are praying for a miracle. The lineup for the rest of the year isn’t jam-packed by any means, but there are a few A-list entries that will hopefully give the portable a positive push.
Ubisoft is proving to be a stalwart supporter, producing an exclusive entry from one of their most successful series, Assassin’s Creed. Like the Uncharted launch title, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is a completely new adventure rather than a shallow port from the console, though it still has enough graphical strength to deliver a visually stunning experience on the go.
The game’s title represents not just the historical background, but also the direction Ubisoft has decided to take with the protagonist and setting. You will play as Aveline de Grandpré, the child of a wealthy Frenchmen and an African slave. Though playing as a female, Aveline is no less deadly then her male counterparts; she is trained by a member of the Brotherhood, after all. Some of the weaponry she’ll get her hands on includes the sugarcane handled machete, the blowpipe for long-range attacks, and the silent-but-deadly hidden blade.
While set in the same general timeline as its console brethren, the focus of this adventure is the French and Indian War. Liberation takes place in the balmy bayou of Louisiana, mainly focused in New Orleans, but also stretching along the Gulf coast and even as far south as Mexico. There will be a strong spotlight on navigating terrain and the hazards it yields. Trudging through swamps, paddling canoes, and leaping from tree branches will be at least as prominent as perching atop building roofs. There may not be the fifty-story steeples you’ve grown accustomed to in Italy while playing as Ezio, but the varied environment should be a refreshing change to the formula.
Combat, however, will be as familiar and as honed as ever, with dual-wielding expected to show up in Liberation. Subtly subduing enemies and hiding in crowds and shadowed alleyways will become a dance of precision. Being surrounding by multiple foes is manageable as well, and the Vita’s touchscreen will allow you to chain together attacks and kills. The system’s gyroscope, camera, and back touchpad will also add variety to the gameplay, though the specifics are still to be revealed.
Liberation will use the same game engine as the console version and will look stunning on the small screen. Character models and architecture might not be as smooth and detailed, but the fluid animations should make up for any graphical shortcomings. With its own score and sharp sound effects, every clean pierce with your hidden blade will make you feel like a tactician of death.
There are still some uncertainties, such as how the story will tie into the grand chronicle. There are hints that you’ll encounter Connor Kenway but will have no ties to Desmond Miles in the present day. Instead, it would seem you’re a “product” of Abstergo Industries, who manipulate the memory for their own unscrupulous purposes.
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation will have an exclusive bundle with a sleek, crystal white Vita, but there are other bonuses worth looking into for those who already own a Vita. If you purchase both the Vita and PS3 titles, your portable copy can be linked for extras such as an exclusive skin, a bonus multiplayer character, some ammo pouch upgrades, and Connor’s tomahawk, the anticipated fan-favorite weapon of choice.
Only announced at E3 a couple of months ago and hiding in the shadows of its big brother, you would expect Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation to simply fall off the radar. It’s likely staying in our sights because, for Vita owners, there isn’t much else to look forward to (except possibly LittleBigPlanet). However, even if the Vita lineup were mammoth, Ubisoft is doing with Liberation what every other developer should be doing for the Vita—creating a current generation console quality game that is entirely its own and not merely a port; making use of the system’s unique controls; and giving the game enough content and polish that the audience won’t feel cheated with a watered-down product. Hopefully this will entice some of those still on the fence to pick up a Vita and give the traditional handheld market a little vitality.