She’s a killer...
Posted 5 months ago By Vince - Vincent Deshaies
I know what you’re thinking. Another dumbed down console port for a Sony handheld? When are they finally going to learn? Well, dear friend, you may want to rethink that statement, as Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation offers anything but. In fact, the game is completely separate from its home console counterpart, instead offering an entirely exclusive campaign adapted to the young Vita. The question remains: Is it any good?
For this portable adventure, Ubisoft Sofia has decided to create a brand new main character: Aveline de GrandPré. While this chapter doesn’t feature Desmond in any form whatsoever, Aveline’s story is as interesting as you’d expect from any other Assassin’s Creed title. In fact, I was very surprised by how well they developed her near the beginning of the game. As the first female protagonist in the series, she serves as a wonderful representative of her gender. It’s a nice change of pace to see a more feminine approach to the brutal, yet elegant job assassins have in these games. In this title, Boston (from the home console game) is replaced by New Orleans, a city which Aveline will have to explore as she attempts to uncover the mystery behind the missing slaves that didn’t make the transition between governments. The story is surprisingly well told and intriguing given the “spin-off” nature of the game. In fact, it ties in to Assassin’s Creed III in fairly interesting ways, particularly for people who own the main game on the PlayStation 3.
"If we compare this title to other handheld entries, we can see how ambitious Ubisoft was in trying to translate the full Assassin’s Creed experience on a handheld."
In terms of gameplay, few compromises have been made compared to the console experience. While Aveline is not exactly as agile as Connor, the controls remain very intuitive and close to what you’d expect from any other AC game. The climbing mechanics remain unchanged from AC3, and while the combat isn’t as deep in the portable game, it’s still highly functional and very impressive given the limited amount of buttons on the handheld. This last point brings me right to my next one, which isn’t quite as positive. Unfortunately, like many Vita games, this one suffers from poor and forced implementation of touch controls and gyroscope features. Prominently featured in puzzles, these Vita-exclusive functions actually do a huge disservice to the game. One puzzle in particular, which involves tilting the Vita with precision, was headache-inducing. Other than that, though, most of the game is a joy to control, and it feels good to see that the full experience was nearly replicated on the handheld. The city also feels appropriately large, and the wide variety of moves you can perform never leave you feeling limited in your actions. You can still approach enemies in various different ways, and the game adapts to your play style as nicely as its console counterpart. It doesn’t quite offer the same amount of variety as the missions from ACIII, and the missions themselves aren’t quite as elaborate, but let’s not compare apples to oranges and remember that we’re in front of a handheld game here. As far as handheld Assassin’s Creed games go, this is certainly by far the most satisfying to play through, and one that implements several great ideas that fit the bite-sized play sessions often associated with handhelds just fine.
In terms of content, I do have to say that this game felt a lot lighter than what we’ve come to expect from the series. I was able to complete the main storyline in less than 10 hours, and the side missions aren’t nearly as varied and interesting as we’ve seen in the past. There is a multiplayer mode that is certainly worth a try, but it’s more of a social mini-game than anything else. Those expecting to find a replica of the console experience on that front will be extremely disappointed. Liberation MP is actually a lot more like something you’d find on Facebook, where simulating combats and exchanging currency is the main attraction. In fact, the mode is under-explained and overly complicated. I would recommend giving it a try, if only to see if you enjoy this type of experience, but the meat of this particular meal is definitely found in its single player mode.
The visuals may be toned down from ACIII, but that doesn’t make them any less spectacular. On the Vita’s OLED screen, it simply looks wonderful and vibrant. The city feels very much alive, the character animations are extremely believable, and this is the first Vita game I’ve played since Uncharted Golden Abyss that made me feel like it took full advantage of the system’s impressive graphical capabilities. Things aren’t quite as bright and beautiful on the sound work front, though. The sound effects came out absolutely fine, but there is some very noticeable compression in the music of the game, which makes it seem painfully low-quality sometimes. It’s unfortunate, because beyond the bad quality I could hear what sounded like great work by the composer. The voice acting is very serviceable and the characters are portrayed very well by the actors.
Despite not being quite as expansive as the home consoles versions, this game certainly deserves the attention of Vita owners. If we compare this title to other handheld entries, we can see how ambitious Ubisoft was in trying to translate the full Assassin’s Creed experience on a handheld. For the most part, it did so with great success. While a few extra months of development certainly couldn’t have hurt the game, it’s a fascinating first attempt that I hope will be the start of a great future for the series on Sony’s handheld.
+ Good story
+ Fantastic protagonist
+ Greater scale than you usually see on a handheld
+ Impressive visuals
- Strange multiplayer
- Bad sound compression
- Forced touch and gyroscope controls
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Release Date : 2012/10/30
System : PS Vita
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Ubisoft
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10