Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is a Playstation Vita game developed and published by Ubisoft. This is the first female Assassin (Aveline de Grandpré who is part African and part French) in the Assassin’s Creed series and it set between 1765 and 1777 around the end of the French and Indian War in 18th century New Orleans.
The story is very difficult to get into. For a start, any new comers to the series will be instantly lost. Unlike previous instalments in the series, the game doesn’t really explain what the setting is. The game starts with an unknown user buying an animus style box from Abstergo. This box is like a game machine that is being used as propaganda for the Templars to show them in a positive light. Apart from that the rest is left up to prior knowledge. Desynchronisation and animus glitches must be confusing for gamers who have never played an Assassin’s Creed game before as these are not explained. Things do not get any better as the game progresses. The story is really hard to follow because of a mixture of poor dialogue and poor character explanation. I often found myself just going from objective to objective without really knowing what was going on. Aveline has some interesting backstory (with her mother going missing and being brought in by another family) but it was never really explored in any detail. Also the other characters are instantly forgettable. It just wasn’t very well thought-out.
Saying this, the actual ending is the most interesting I have seen in the series since Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I say actual because there are technically two endings (one is edited by The Templars). A hacker makes himself known to you early on in the game. By finding his missions you unlock the unedited ending (quick note I randomly came across these missions when I played I do not know if they are hard to find). Anyway the unedited version is thought provoking on how the next major release with unfold. It gives a bit of back story as well as hinting at the next Assassin.
Gameplay quality, in this game, is all over the place. Both touch screens are used but sometimes they are used in the wrong situation. For instance using the back touch screen to move forward in a canoe is especially difficult while trying to steer. The touch screen does get better with a letter opening feature and a combo kill feature (that I will get onto in a bit). Puzzles return in this game which utilises much of the Playstation Vita’s functionality however these puzzles are few in number which is a big shame as they were a big highlight of the game.
A big feature in this game is costumes. There are three costumes to choose from (Slave, Assassin and Lady) which all have advantages and disadvantages. This is a fantastic feature which works well except when you need to change for a mission and the nearest changing room is miles away or you end up doing a mission that is really more suitable for another costume.
Everything else seems quite badly designed. Firstly, unlike its bigger, console, brother this game actually encourages free running. New Orleans is nicely laid out which makes traversing the city a doddle. However, free running can be a bit hit and miss at some points. Like its brother free running has be confined to one button. This causes similar problems Assassin’s Creed III has with you randomly mounting objects you didn’t want to mount while running after someone. Also for some reasons getting the right direction is difficult while free running. This is most apparent in the cave sections but you will often find yourself completely missing the platform which becomes irritating after a while. Luckily there seems to be low fall damage in this game. You can fall from some impressive heights and walk away with a minor scratch. Assassin’s Creed games have always had this issue but it is not as obvious as it is in this game. Enemy AI is fairly thick. One instance I was shooting (with a rifle) these enemies from a platform above them and they had no clue where I was and just kept investigating their dead comrades. Also this wasn’t an isolated incident. Enemies in general had no depth perception and can’t really see you from a reasonable distance.
Combat, like its bigger brother, is a mess. You can do some cool two people take down which is great to look at but combat in general is not fluid at all. Too many enemy classes block and stop you stringing moves together. This would be fine if the combat was still fluid but these blocks just breaks up the combat which is a shame. As I mentioned earlier you can do a massive takedown. It is pretty useful tool to use. You use the touch screen to choose how many men to kill (a meter is needed to be built up to use it) and you watch Aveline do her stuff. Changing weapons is interesting as you use the touch screen which opens up two columns of weapons. It is an intuitive way instead of using a button to just press on the weapon you want. Sadly there is a fundamental flaw in regards to weapons. I have noticed after cut scenes that your shooting weapon keeps changing to the default weapon slot. What this means is if you want a wipe (great weapon by the way) as that weapon you need to select it after every cut scene because it changes to either a gun or (if the gun is not present) to nothing. As you can imagine this is incredible infuriating.
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation does also bring in a management system similar to the one seen in Assassin’s Creed III but this one is fairly gimped. You can buy ships and send out produce but you can’t make anything new nor can you do any sea missions. It is worth noting that the amount of stuff to buy in the game is limited. There are a fair few costumes but weapons and useful equipment is limited so this management feature becomes a little bit pointless.
I feel disappointed that I have to put this next section in but you need to know this if you are going to buy this game. There is an impressive amount of bugs/glitches/issues in this game (some more important than others). One of the biggest issues is poor loading. Enemies and people can just pop out of nowhere as they finally load. One (of many) incident had me going through a gate and then suddenly (as I was about to go through the gate) some armed guards were blocking the way. Another is frame rate. Frame rate drops quite a lot during this game. It doesn’t become unplayable but it loses that fluidity you expect from a big game. I will quickly mention some of many glitches I encountered during my play. Hood bug (which says my hood was equipped but it wasn’t. To fix this I had to go to my home, deselect the hood, leave, go back and then equip the hood again. Massive nightmare for something so simple), Dead guy comes back to life issue and also a moment where I couldn’t kill anyone and wouldn’t attack some bad guys who were attacking me. These issues are really unacceptable.
Graphically this game is pretty good. Animations look good and move in a fluid way (except for faces which are very wooden looking) and the environments (from the hustle and bustle of New Orleans to eerie swaps) are beautiful. A cheap trick has been used to make thin vegetation used as a barrier for some parts of the wilderness but overall the environments are well designed. The voice acting suffers really from the poor dialogue. You can tell they have tried to bring emotion into very empty words.
There is an online multiplayer mode in this game but it isn’t the free roam style you might expect. Essentially I would describe it as a big strategy game where you work with others online to take over certain nodes. Now there was little instruction on how to play and I also found nearly everyone had chosen to join the Assassin clan (other of curse being The Templars). It isn’t bad it just needs balancing (because the Assassins have taken over the world) and a better tutorial. A little neat feature for people who own Assassin’s Creed III is you can unlock exclusive content. It isn’t a game changer but it is nice nonetheless.
Overall this game has many flaws (story and design) but it never stopped me playing. For some reasons I could see its flaws but it was still incredibly fun to play. It has a badly told story and gameplay design issues but I really do like this game (i.e. it is a good game). Now going onto score there is a reason why it is a 6.8. I feel the bugs/glitches/issues in this game can never warrant me giving this game anything more. If you can look past these issues then you will have fun with this game and I do recommend it. Just do not expect a huge amount of quality.