Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation

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Electronic Theatre ImageDespite the significant progression made with the main bloodline of the Assassin’s Creed series over the last few years, the mobile editions have tripped and stumbled between formats and genres. Always enjoyable though never anything worth writing home about, Assassin’s Creed needed something to change, it needed a kick to make it step up a gear on mobile and handheld consoles. Apparently, according to Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, what it needed was the PlayStation Vita.

Designed as an accompaniment to Assassin’s Creed III while retaining playability as a unique experience in its own right, much of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation bleeds into the story of its home console peer. Set in New Orleans between 1765 and 1780, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation follows the story of Aveline de Grandpré, a female Assassin of French and African descent. Bringing the player up-to-speed in a much swifter fashion than Assassin’s Creed III, Electronic Theatre ImageAssassin’s Creed III: Liberation puts the player in a commanding role within minutes. Character introduction, combat, free running: this is how you play Assassin’s Creed on PlayStation Vita, what would you like to do now? Simple and effective, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation hits the right note first time.

The story of Aveline is one that has considerably more political commentary than Assassin’s Creed is typically known for, and much greater is the relevance to modern day politics despite the past setting. Discussing the cultural practice of plaçage, where wealthy French and Spanish men have an arranged marriage with a woman of African, Indian or Creole descent, thus allowing those women and their children to gain power, wealth and positions of power in society, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation walks a fine line between challenging and tolerance. Thankfully it’s respectful of the argument and the heritage, Electronic Theatre Imageand as such does a greater job of recasting its subject matter as an interactive history lesson than other titles’ pick-and-mix of events and persons.

In contrast to the traditional set-up, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is not viewed through the memories of series protagonist Desmond Miles; rather it is a cleverly packaged as a ‘product’ created by Abstergo. Outside of the plot development and unusual delivery however, it’s much the same experience that fans of the series have come to expect. The mission structure offers players at once both freedom to explore and reason to progress along a set path. The player will journey along Aveline’s path in-and-out of towns and cities, to the bayou and outposts. The variety in locale is welcomed, and the traditional rivalry between simple progression and bonus objectives for ‘full synch’ is once again a matter of completionist demand.

The free running aspect of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is silky smooth, clearly having taking the cues for its automatic navigation system from Assassin’s Creed III. Far superior to any previous edition of the franchise players will glide from stacked boxes to wall plant to rooftop to tree branch to rooftop to landing upon their enemies and away again just as quickly. Electronic Theatre ImageIt’s a sense of empowerment that so few videogames offering without overpowering the player, and is undeniably the most thrilling aspect of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation’s presentation.

Of course, many of the other now traditional Assassin’s Creed mechanics have made their way into Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. From the reliance on counter-attacks to the high-rise synchronisation points and subsequent leaps of faith, the PlayStation Vita offers a familiar gameplay experience at almost all times. There are new mechanics introduced, such as the disguises, bribery and charming the gentry, and these elements do add another welcome layer of detail to the experience. Whether or not they will be embraced by future titles in the franchise remains to be seen, but here in Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation they are most certainly welcome.

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is the first mobile Assassin’s Creed title to feature a fully fledged multiplayer mode; however it’s very different to that of the home console editions. The component features the persistent online statistics that so many videogames are aspiring to in the modern era, such as the poorly performing Hybrid and Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, but the direct element is non-existent. Instead, players battle in an asynchronous gameplay mode that Electronic Theatre Imagereplicates the brotherhood aspect of modern Assassin’s Creed titles by taking the statistics based combat to a larger battlefield. Players will assign their troops specific tasks, such as reinforcing a base or attacking an enemy position, and the outcome of each action will not only earn the player rewards but also count towards the progression of your chosen team: Abstergo or Assassins. The rivalry is reset each week, but your statistics are not. It’s an interesting addition, but not one which will demand as much player investment as the compulsive multiplayer mode featured in Assassin’s Creed III.

The technical quality of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is remarkable, clearly one of the PlayStation Vita’s most accomplished productions. The visual standard is a of a welcoming high quality throughout, easily on par with the Assassin’s Creed II trilogy, and the sound quality is also remarkable. The voice acting is just as well delivered Electronic Theatre Imageas that of Assassin’s Creed III and thankfully, the balance issues that Electronic Theatre encountered in the preview build of the videogame have been rectified.

Launching alongside Assassin’s Creed III on home consoles and PC, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is a fine attempt at bringing the franchise to a handheld as a fully realised Assassin’s Creed experience. It redistributes the best assets of the series and adds a few unique touches of its own, all while wrapping it up in a remarkably relevant political statement. Less innovation than iteration, what Ubisoft presents in Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is an enjoyable mobile edition of a familiar home console experience. With fully fledged AAA PlayStation productions so few-and-far between on PlayStation Vita, owners of the system will no doubt be thankful that the franchise took this opportunity to dig its mobile heels out of the ground.

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