The portable Assassin’s Creed III game tells a different story.
Assassin’s Creed III Liberation on PS Vita casts the player in the role of protagonist Aveline de Grandpré, a woman of charm who happens to be ruthless and deadly when stalking prey. This is, after all, an Assassin’s Creed game and the Assassin/Templar conflict is rages on in another tale set to the same time period as Assassin’s Creed III on the home consoles.
Aveline’s motivation through the game is a little bit hazy to begin with, but doesn’t really become much more apparent as you progress through the storyline. The game begins with a brief tutorial as you play a young Aveline who has been separated from her mother in the bustling New Orleans market. Was she really abandoned in the market, only to become an assassin later without any reasonable explanation?
In true Assassin’s Creed style, Aveline does a great job of stalking prey from the branches of trees in the Louisiana swamp, and on the ground the combat feels fluid and responsive, if a little simple. She will be spending time scaling tall buildings in the bustling streets of New Orleans or slowly walking around the murky swamps of the Mississippi river, trying to avoid being snapped up by a crocodile.
The environment in Liberation feels quite expansive, leaving a great deal of time for exploration straight from the start. Aveline can use her Eagle Vision to find clues within her environment, which is very useful when you’re in areas of overgrown forest. Your view isn’t so clear when you’re down on the ground, so it’s a good idea for Aveline to spend the majority of her time high above trees or on the rooftops to get a better understanding of her next target area. Many areas are heavily guarded, but with the ability to quickly scan the area beforehand, strategies can be developed for hiding or taking your enemies by surprise.
Liberation offers a great selection of side quests set aside from the main game, offering a break from the storyline. However, it’s very easy to get distracted with the side quests, leading to play sessions sometimes not rewarding the player with much progress. The objective based side quests involve missions such as collecting a series of items or finding slaves that need freeing. If you complete the side quests successfully, you’re rewarded with a nice lump of cash, which can then go towards buying new weapons and equipment.
New for Liberation, the game offers the opportunity for Aveline to adopt a selection of different personas, outfits that offer different options to the player when playing through various scenarios. Aveline can dress as a deadly assassin, slave or lady and each of the personas come with advantages and disadvantages. As an assassin, you will have access to all your weapons and are able to move about freely, whereas the slave persona gives you a limit to specific weaponry, but does allow you to instigate crowd riots and blend in more easily. The lady disguise enables you to charm guards, but restricts free running. The personas of the game are an interesting concept allowing you to choices in your approach to any given situation.
Aveline de Grandpré is a fascinating character and the first female protagonist of the Assassin’s Creed series. She’s a woman who has been brought into the world by a wealthy father, and a mother who was once a slave. Whilst it does offer some interesting story dynamics, the game fails to explore Aveline’s personal background and often glosses over her story too quickly. Also, the story feels fragmented at times and doesn’t really flow very smoothly.
However, the scenery and locations in the game do a good job of creating an immersive atmosphere, from the overgrown swamps to the busy streets of New Orleans. There is an amazing attention to detail, especially in the buildings, and the views as you traverse the rooftops are quite spectacular on the handheld.
Liberation is a bite-sized version of Assassin’s Creed, a glimpse of what is possible on the PlayStation Vita. Whilst it is far superior to any portable Assassin’s Creed game that has come before, it still doesn’t feel as complete as the game on the home consoles. Assassin’s Creed III Liberation won’t appeal to everyone, but it is an enjoyable experience for the fans of the series who want to hunt Templars while on the move.