Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation Review

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (Available exclusively on PlayStation Vita)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1 to 64
Genre: Action
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Sofia
Release Date: October 30th, 2012

Parent Talk: Liberation is rated M for mature by the ESRB because of blood, suggestive themes, and violence. Like all the games in the series you take on the roll of an assassin, this time Aveline, and go around killing all kinds of people in some truly brutal ways. Children need not apply.

Plays Like: If you’ve played any of the other entries in the series you know what to expect. Seek out intelligence on your target, locate and eliminate them. Simple as that. This one throws in several new gameplay innovations, but the core remains the same.

Review Basis: Finished the single-player story and tried the “multiplayer” mode.

Let’s get this out of the way right now folks, the PlayStation Vita is still struggling to find its audience. There have been some wickedly fun games released for the handheld this year including the excellent LittleBigPlanet, but for whatever reason sales continue to disappoint. What this bad-boy needs is a killer app, and fast. So does Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation deliver?

The Great:

True console-like gameplay on the go. It’s games like this which really show why Sony wanted to create the Vita in the first place. When you first boot up the game you’re going to see a real-life console Assassin’s Creed and it’s quite the sight.

The Good:

+ Hardware is no longer a limitation. The twin analog sticks allow for precise AC controls. Long-time fans will feel right at home.

+ The same refined gameplay you’ve come to expect from the series is prominently featured here. You scale buildings with ease, hide in the shadows and perform death defying feats of strength all to take out your next target.

+ Much like AC III, Liberation features open world gameplay, allowing players to do much more than just push the narrative forward. There are countless goodies to locate, and New Orleans beckons players to explore each and every inch of it.

+ The soundtrack is excellent and voice acting is much like the rest of the series, inspired and professional.

The So-So:

+/- Liberation doesn’t do as good a job of showing you how Aveline became this stone-cold killer, compared to how Assassin’s Creed III highlighted Conner’s journey. It’s a shortcoming that’s really noticeable when you play the two side-by-side.

+/- Aveline has three active personas she can use, Lady, Slave, and Assassin. Each has its own unique set of abilities. The lady persona will allow her to distract guards, slave will allow her to blend in without anyone noticing, and the assassin persona is where you do your killing. Problem is, you don’t allows have the option of switching back and forth and that leads to a whole lot of hand holding during certain portions of the game.

+/- Vita-specific features can be awesome and downright bizarre. It’s great being able to pinch the map to zoom, but really bizarre to use the gyroscope and both the touch screen and rear track-pad to do other actions. Not every feature on the Vita needs to be used for each and every game just to prove they were worthy additions to the hardware.

+/- Graphically Liberation can often be the most spectacular looking game on the Vita, but it also features heavy framerate drops throughout. The attention to detail never lets up though.

The Bad:

– Missed opportunity to highlight the slave trade and the true meaning behind the American Revolution. Virtually all these interesting issues are glossed over for convenience and that’s unfortunate because it could have been the most thought-provoking game in the series.

– I didn’t feel the multiplayer mode whatsoever. Essentially players tag nodes around the globe for a giant game of tug of war. That’s it, that’s all. There’s no real, traditional multiplayer of any kind.

The Ugly:

Being forced to use the lady persona is lame, period. Basically you flirt with guards so they turn into brain-dead buffoons. Have you ever experienced an Assassin’s Creed where hearts are popping out of the heads of the enemies you’re trying to take out? Yeah, me neither.

The Lowdown:

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation isn’t a bad game, in fact it’s a very good game, but it certainly doesn’t live up to my expectations and that’s mainly because too many features feel as though they were forced. Much like how I used to say all DS games didn’t need to have stylus gameplay, I now find myself saying that not every feature on the Vita needs to be used in order for games to be exceptional on it. The persona idea was an excellent one, but it needed a little more time in the oven to get just right. As it stands now Liberation is a game Vita owners should check out, but anyone thinking it’s worth picking up a Vita solely for this game might want to hold off for the next hopeful killer app.

Final Score: 7/10

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