OXCGN’s Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation Review
A Louisianian Local Weighs in: Better Than ACIII?
by Nicholas Laborde
©2012 Nicholas Laborde
Assassin’s Creed III was the culmination of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, wrapping up the story of Desmond Miles‘ pursuit of humanity’s safety.
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation on the PlayStation Vita, on the other hand, is a completely separate title that has nothing to do with the main game.
It takes place during the same time frame (prior to, during, and slightly after the American Revolution), but focuses on a female African assassin named Aveline.
Oh, and it’s in New Orleans, Louisiana, my home state.
Liberation is a complement to the main game, but is a separate, diversified, and arguably better game.
C’est la vie!
While the main game saw Native American assassin Connor caught between the Patriots and the British, Liberation follows Aveline as she fights to defend her home against the backdrop of a growing Spanish and French conflict.
Unlike franchise iterations on the consoles, Liberation does not involve Desmond Miles. It is solely the story of Aveline, and that is precisely why I believe it is a stronger game than Assassin’s Creed III.
I was disappointed in several aspects of Assassin’s Creed III due to a greater dual focus on both Connor and Desmond, which led to the story being stretched thin and ultimately failing in its execution of Desmond’s segments (which the franchise has been building up to since its inception).
Not only is the narrative better, but the location is far more suited to a game of the franchise than the likes of colonial Boston or Philadelphia.
Even though those locations are still good in their own regard, colonial New Orleans provides more architectural diversity within the setting, whereas many were turned off by the “sameyness” that Assassin’s Creed III‘s settings provided.
Aveline is more along the lines of an Ezio-esque character, making her much easier to resonate with compared to the overly serious Connor.
Along her journey, Aveline encounters many natives, slaves, common people, and French and Spanish troops.
Feminists and minorities rejoice!
A major theme of the story revolves around slavery, and I don’t know why all the feminists aren’t jumping all over Liberation. It’s easily one of the most important games of this generation.
In addition to the interesting facets of our main character, New Orleans (especially at that time) is a very culturally rich location, and a prime target for any Assassin’s Creed title.
People walk through the streets, not entirely American but not wholly French. The issue of slavery abounds. France and Spain march faster and faster toward a large-scale conflict, with the fate of New Orleans unknown.
While you won’t get nearly as much playtime out of Liberation as compared to its big brother on consoles, the story is comparable to the quality of console iterations of the franchise.
How does it play on Vita?
While Assassin’s Creed III focused on multiple big cities connected by the wilderness (known as the Frontier), Liberation focuses on a single, massive city and its outlying swamp areas known as the bayou.
Instead of traversing snow and hiding from marching British patrols, you’ll be moving through trees and water while avoiding alligators that are ridiculously large.
The most diversifying aspect of Liberation is that Aveline can don one of three roles. First, we have the typical assassin role which allows the player to conduct the full, expected range of Assassin’s Creed gameplay.
Second, we have the “lady” persona. Aveline dons a fancy dress, which allows her to charm guards (as I made use of this, I would charm them and lure them in to back alleys…) to evade typical conflict.
While in this mode, you cannot free run or jump, as it restricts you to the ground. Several missions require Aveline to infiltrate areas as the lady, challenging the player in a way that is new to the series (an incredible feat).
Third and finally, we have the slave persona. In this attire, Aveline is dressed in rags and her treatment changes like night and day.
What would be a normal walk through the streets has people yelling and pushing her, and guards begin investigating her if she doesn’t blend in.
However, the slave persona is one of the easiest to navigate crowds. Specifically while in the slave persona, Aveline can blend in to crowds easier, and also do things like picking up boxes to “look” like a slave.
As with the lady, some missions require her to be in this attire, and once again she cannot free run.
A few unique weapons make their debut, such as the blowpipe, which allows Aveline to stealthily shoot a poison dart in to an enemy’s neck from a great distance.
I was consistently impressed by how beautiful the game is on the Vita, and my only real complaint is as with any mobile title, the sound quality is average at best.
Otherwise, the score is perfect and befitting of all that you encounter.
A multiplayer mode also briefly makes its debut, but I didn’t quite understand it or get enjoyment out of it.
Players look at a map and have to assign assassins to locations in order to hold them. It should be noted that the entire multiplayer experience takes place on this map.
By holding locations you increase your “reach” and can travel to more nearby locations.
While it is interesting at first, I ultimately won’t get much use out of it.
Liberation is liberating
Assassin’s Creed III may have somewhat disappointed me, but Liberation fills in the holes that III left.
We may not get something on as grand a scale as the main console adaptation, but what we do get is an experience all its own in one of the most rich settings of the franchise.
If you found Boston boring, you’ll find New Orleans to be like a breath of fresh southern air.