Well this one came out of no-where. When the original version of this Assassin’s Creed 3 spin-off was released on the Playstation Vita, it was kind of expected that that’s where it would stay. However, as with many other games recently, a HD re-release has made itself known, on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Designed to feel like a console release on the flagship hand-held, has enough been upgraded for it to be worth a wild stab in the dark?
Liberation is set in 18th Century Louisiana close to the end of the French/Indian war. The protagonist for the game, Aveline de Grampré, is not only of mixed origin, but is the first female protagonist of the series, allowing the story to progress in an interesting direction as she uses the two sides of her heritage and her feminine whiles to achieve her goals (detailed later) alongside more traditional stabbing. These aspects make her a much more interesting Character than Connor or Altair ever were, but she still doesn’t have enough interesting moments to elevate her above Ezio or Edward.
Whilst set at the same time as AC3, the game’s meta-story separates itself from Desmond’s timeline by setting itself up as…a game. Granted, as a game it gets “hacked” by an Assassin Agent trying to tell YOU the “truth” behind the lies, but it still feels a bit like a desperate attempt to shoe-horn the modern elements of the series in, without disturbing the Desmond story; almost as though it were a test run for AC4.
Liberation sticks to the standard Assassin’s Creed Formula in almost every way. Progression through the story takes you from quest to quest, location to location in a sandbox area, free-running and climbing on every available surface and stabbing anyone who runs after you. As always, the dynamic free-running system is nicely implemented with a good compromise between freedom, guided jumps and “sticking” to surfaces, but being in this series it’s hardly surprising. It all works as well as it has since AC2 with little to no change.
The biggest actual change in terms of Gameplay from the base Creed formula is the Outfitting system, giving Aveline different abilities dependant on how she dresses. The three outfits are the bog-standard Assassin outfit, the Slave outfit and the Lady outfit. The first allows for full combat and movement, but makes enemies more immediately hostile. The Slave outfit allows her to blend in more easily as one of the mistreated many, but she is much less useful in combat. As the Lady she calls on her father’s white heritage and can charm guards, but is unable to free-run or climb. Each comes with their own notoriety gauge as well as different ways to reduce said notoriety, for example the Slave must pull down wanted posters.
It’s nice to have something different added to the same formula, and it’s nice to have the gameplay varied up a little, but often I found the need to switch frustrating as it required me to find a booth.
As with most aspects of the title, the combat is almost exactly the same as in previous entries, with the exception of a few addition weapons such as the Whip. The easiest way to survive is, as always, through the incredibly easy counter system which stills flows well. It isn’t exactly complex or varied, but it’s functional. It seems to be particularly easy in Liberation HD, possibly again due to it’s history. On Vita the controls were more difficult to use, so perhaps it was originally balanced to reflect this but not re-balanced for this release.
The actual New Orleans area is much more interesting than the setting of Assassin’s Creed 3, mostly due to the handheld origins of Liberation. Things are much closer together in a smaller world, making negotiating the city less of a chore. The Bayeau still has many of the issues that AC3’s frontier did, but in general the world is much more manageable. However, in comparison to the game-changing effort that was Black Flag the world still feels very bland, lacking in overall character.
But enough about the content of the game. As a handheld spin-off I can imagine it was fantastic, but as a HD re-release after a major series entry it doesn’t fare quite so well. The graphics have been drastically improved from the Vita’s offering, but fall flat in comparison to the beautiful visuals of Black Flag or even it’s original big brother, AC3.
The other addition is a bunch of extra story content, which unfortunately doesn’t really add any new elements or progression other than adding a few hours to the longevity.
All in all, So much has been drastically improved from the Vita release, but the simple fact that it’s yet another Assassin’s Creed Game with the same formula we saw from AC2 all the way through to AC3 pulls it down, especially in the shadow of the vastly superior AC4. The graphics and audio are distinctly better than they were, but they just don’t quite match the heights achieved by the main series releases.
However, you’ve got to remember that even a so-so Assassin’s Creed game is still a pretty good game, and if you’re a die-hard fan of the series who hasn’t grown tired of it yet and who didn’t the original Vita version, you’ll probably still really enjoy it.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.