Assassins Creed 3: Liberation User Review
The game opens with Aveline as a young girl on the day her birth mother disappeared but immediately jumps to Aveline as a young woman and assassin with no exposition in between. This is the first issue because you're asked to care about Aveline's need to square her mother's disappearance but you've seen nothing to get you to this point. Why join the brotherhood? Her training? What exactly led her down this path? These are questions that deserve answers but never come. You're left to accept their circumstances and move on.
Graphically, the game is impressive. New Orleans is rendered beautifully with great lighting and the bayou is lush and dense. They really set a mood here. There are frame rate issues that crop up and sometimes break the spell but nothing too drastic. The game can get glitchy with disappearing bodies and some clipping but this is a big game and that often comes with the territory, especially considering the scope of the game and it being on a handheld system.
Sound design is nearly perfect, however, knocking out guards leaves them moaning on the ground sometimes rendering the soundtrack stuck in an accidental yet inappropriate loop. Funny but quickly tiresome. Voice acting is top notch. I can't say enough about the actors, they often save scenes when some other technical mayhem rears its ugly head. The score is beautiful but you'll notice early that it can get repetitive. This is a minor quibble with a game of this size on a handheld.
Controlling Aveline is where the game completely confounds. It's both wildly simplistic and unnecessarily convoluted. It seems the developer wanted to incorporate everything the Vita is capable of into the finished product. This is not the right path as many of the functions come off unpolished and unnecessary. All the Parkour stuff is done basically with one button and for the most part runs smooth. Aveline has the tendency to get grabby and the camera gets obtuse from time to time but mostly stays unnoticed. Anyone who has ever played an AC game will feel right at home with combat which is virtually unchanged here. One difference is the mark and execute chain system which is lifted straight from the Splinter Cell series.
Effective but often makes combat too easy. The gameplay is at its worst when employing the extra functions of the Vita. The gyroscope mini game is too sensitive. Pinching the front and back touchscreens and swiping to open letters is pointless. Finally, the decoding mini game where you need to hold your Vita up to a light source is, well, yeah good luck with that. These babies pop up A LOT and are guaranteed to ruin your mood.
The world is suitably large with lots to do. Plenty of vantage points to search out and officials to bribe. Typical array of side missions and even a shipping business to run. One of the more interesting aspects of the world is Aveline's "personas." She has the ability to change outfits to change the world's perception of her. Her lady persona allows her to charm people into helping her. The slave persona allows her to blend into various working groups, great for tailing. Finally, the assassin persona is, yup, you guessed it, built to kill. It's nice to see ambitious game design like this on a smaller platform. The future is bright here.
Liberation boasts multiplayer as well but boast is the wrong word because it sucks. There's nothing to get into about multiplayer other than don't play it. Oh wait, you don't actually play it any way you just point where you want to have things happen and yeah, it sucks. No more on that.
The devil is in the details and Liberation is a game that nails the broad strokes but little else. It has a beautiful setting, good story and likable heroine but still somehow leaves you a little cold. It's a game that always keeps you at arms length. You can play for stretches with a big grin on your face and in an instant you're creating new curse words while your spouse is wondering why they married a child. The game boasts a 15+ hour campaign but there's little reason to come back for more unless you're the most patient of perfectionists. Liberation is a very difficult game to score because it does so many things right but with little annoyances. It may seem like nitpicking but they truly add up.
The Vita has struggled so far to catch on and has been searching for that system selling title. Liberation could have been just that but falls short. Close but not close enough. There is hope though, developers will learn the Vita's strengths and weaknesses and the perfect Vita game will be born. Perhaps the next AC game will be the one. Longtime fans should find enough here to like but with Big Brother out at the same time for the PS3 it becomes very difficult to recommend spending time and money on Little Sis.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.