Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation Review for PS Vita

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation Review for PS Vita

When The Big Easy Calls, You Gotta Accept The Charges

Assassin’s Creed fans are getting a double treat this Halloween, with not one, but two completely original games.

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is an exclusive PS Vita title from publisher Ubisoft, and I can say with complete confidence that it’s an absolute must-have for any Vita owner. A lot of the system’s past titles have been shoddy ports from previous console versions or new games that don’t take advantage of the portable’s full potential. Liberation may follow Assassin’s Creed’s game mechanics, but it feels completely fresh, it looks and sounds great, and it presents new locales that are well worth exploring.

I’ll begin by pointing out the game’s technical prowess, because this is by far the most beautiful game for the system yet. When compared to Assassin’s Creed III for the HD consoles, you’ll notice some rough edges and stiff animations, but the amount of detail presented in such a huge explorable space without load times between areas is remarkable. Everything looks authentic to the period, and you’ll shed a tear of joy when you discover no lag, even in crowded streets while tackling a half dozen or more guards.

Assassin's Creed III: Liberation Screenshot

The musical score and sound effects are pristine, and actually still sound quite crisp through the system speakers (though headphones are still recommended). The voice acting is also top-notch, especially when it comes to the heroine you control. The only small criticism I have is that sometimes the music is a little too melancholy when the ambience is light and lively, which seems contradictory.

For the first time in the series, you will play as a female protagonist, who is as refreshing as every other aspect of the game. Aveline de Grandpré is the daughter of a wealthy French businessman and an African slave. Granted freedom from birth, Aveline was raised with etiquette, but also possesses compassion and a desire to help those with few liberties. Unable to dismiss the memory of being abandoned by her mother when she was just a child, Aveline has become obsessed with finding an explanation for her mother’s disappearance. This leads her to join the Assassin Brotherhood and get tangled in the politics of Spain and France’s claim to the area, the war between the Assassins and the Templars, and the liberation of slaves.

It’s an interesting enough plot to pursue, but not nearly as engrossing as following Desmond as he and the Assassins race against time to unlock the memories of his ancestors while being chased by Abstergo, a Templar corporation. In fact, there’s no modern timeline at all. Instead, the introduction is an Abstergo commercial promoting the home version of the Animus system, where you can experience historic events (in this case, New Orleans during the American Revolution). What Liberation lacks in an epic storyline, it makes up with Aveline. Unlike Altaïr, Ezio, and what I’ve seen of Connor so far, Aveline lacks the arrogant, bombastic, and brooding attitude. She’s charming and pious, yet still skilled in the lethal arts.

Assassin's Creed III: Liberation Screenshot

Throughout the campaign, Aveline can enter dressing rooms and change her outfit between a lady’s gown, a slave’s work clothes, or an Assassin’s attire, with each persona yielding advantages and disadvantages. As a Lady, Aveline can charm soldiers into protecting her and bribe guards to enter restricted area, though this outfit prevents her from running or climbing. As a Slave, Aveline is the most inconspicuous, able to blend into groups and approach targets without notice, as well as stirring up the poor to cause distractions. As an Assassin, she has access to every purchased weapon, but sticks out like a sore thumb to guards, making her notoriety level higher than with her other guises.

When Aveline is witnessed committing a crime, her notoriety increases, and the guards become more suspicious and more likely to attack. Each persona retains its own notoriety level, so if things get too hot, you can change costumes and work on lowering that intensity. Bribing magistrates lowers the Assassin’s Notoriety, tearing wanted posters off walls lowers it for the Slave, and killing witnesses reduces it for the Lady. All in all, the Persona system is a simple feature that adds strategy and originality to the series.

Assassin's Creed III: Liberation Screenshot

Other elements will feel very familiar. In between story sequences, you can freely roam your surroundings and search for chests to loot, eagle’s nests to synchronize, people to pickpocket, and knowledge to fill your database with. And there’s plenty of landscape to cover, from the sprawling city of New Orleans to the untamed Louisiana Bayou, and even the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. You’ll be able to discern key characters, hiding spots, clues, and other such things using Aveline’s Eagle Vision, which washes the landscape in blue and highlights the important features in various other colors.

As expected, every structure (both natural and manmade) is subject to Aveline’s acrobatic prowess, so leaping between buildings and trees to reach your destination or set up for an air assassination will be just as effective as tailing a target on the ground and peering around corners. You can manually jump, but for the most part the game will perform the necessary movement action based on the direction you are pushing the analog stick. In this regard, it is more sensitive than previous Assassin’s Creed games, and oftentimes Aveline will launch herself off of a perch in the wrong direction and take a nasty tumble to the ground.


Combat has the same issue, although this too is a minor complaint. When surrounded by several enemies, your control stick essentially chooses the target, but sometimes you’ll lunge for the wrong foe because your thumb was pushing the stick a hair in the wrong direction, exposing you to an attack. Nonetheless, combat is completely satisfying, with a assortment of counter moves, the ability to fire a pistol shot after a series of parries with your sword, and Chain-Kills that can be performed in fine cinematic fashion. You can even disarm enemies and use their weapons against them, or launch smoke bombs if the situation is looking dire. Of course, open combat is more of a backup plan in Assassin’s Creed games; keeping to the shadows and using blow darts at long range or your trusty hidden blade up close are always the most satisfying means of dispatching your foes.

Assassin's Creed III: Liberation Screenshot

The game’s multiplayer component is not what I expected, as it has nothing at all to do with the single-player campaign. Instead, it’s a turn-based strategy game reminiscent of the board game Risk. You choose a side (either the Assassins or Abstergo) and attempt to control nodes around the world in a week-long campaign with other anonymous players. You can attack nodes, aid allies, defend captured nodes, or work economic spaces for bonuses. Battles are all computer generated, with the results based on the attack strength and defense of both sides. You can move through allied nodes but are blocked by enemies. There are also Victory Nodes that, if entirely captured by one side, will cause the match to be won outright. Once an agent has performed an action, there is a cooldown period of thirty minutes before another action can be taken. I guarantee that once you start a match, you’ll continuously come back to take your turn and check the map to see which side is winning.

There’s plenty more, such as side missions to tackle, wealth and property to acquire, and hidden collectibles to discover and trade using the Vita’s “Near” feature, but I’ll leave you to discover those for yourself.

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is as fully featured as any console game, and every aspect feels like it was given the proper care. Liberation is part of a beloved series, and it can be proud standing beside any other of your Assassin’s Creed favorites. If you’ve been looking for a reason to pick up a PS Vita, this is probably it.

It may not compare to its console counterpart, but it is by far the most beautiful game on the PS Vita yet. 4.8 Control
There’s a slight learning curve to the sensitive movement and targeting, but combat and exploration are smooth for the most part. 4.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Despite a slight incongruence with the track choice, the music, sound effects, and voice acting are pitch-perfect. 5.0 Play Value
A full-length campaign and plenty of diversions make this an excellent value. You’ll return for the multiplayer long after you’ve completed Aveline’s quest. 4.8 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • New Assassin: In Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, you will meet our first-ever female protagonist, Aveline de Grandpré. As a woman of strong convictions, Aveline is fighting to free the oppressed slaves in 18th century New Orleans and continuing the battle between Assassins and Templars.
  • New Setting: Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation takes place in 18th century New Orleans – a city that is on the brink of rebellion as the control of the city changes hands between the French and the Spanish. Along with New Orleans, Aveline will experience the mysterious bayou on the outskirts of the city of New Orleans.
  • Full Assassin’s Creed Experience: For the first time on a handheld device, Assassin’s Creed III Liberation delivers the core experience Assassin’s Creed experience. The team in Ubisoft Sofia implemented the new AnvilNext engine in the Vita exclusive, giving Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation several of the same experiences as the upcoming console game.
  • Multiplayer: The multiplayer for Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is an asynchronous multiplayer game that sees gamers taking control of nodes on a global map. Gamers who connect to a local node via the PlayStation Vita’s GPS feature will receive a bonus.

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