Assassin’s Creed: Liberation is a game that was initially released for the Playstation Vita and was a companion game to the main entry in the series of that year, Assassin’s Creed III. What separates Assassin’s Creed: Liberation from the main entry is it’s unique storyline and back to basics gameplay. The HD release, Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD, is the Vita game ported to main consoles and PC, to carry this integral experience across for fans of the franchise.
What was interesting in Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD was the main character, Aveline’s, character arc. At the start of the game, we see her as the daughter of what appears to be an African slave living the Frenchest part of a newly found America, New Orleans. Her story leads her to becoming separated from her mother early on and is raised by a rich family as the heiress to an interesting shipping company which plays a pretty big role a little later on in the game. What’s also interesting here is that, as we learn later on in the game, she was also raised into an Assassin by a native (American Indian) Assassin in the area.
At first in Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD, it seems like the game is set to follow the story of Aveline as she does Assassiney things while being an Assassin. And this is pretty much true throughout the entirety of the game. However, there are some Assassin vs. Templar moments that have set the tone throughout the Assassin’s Creed mythology. In fact, there is one really spoilery plot twist revolving around this concept that we wont be going into, but it’s really interesting to see. We couldn’t believe it ourselves and we were yelling at our monitor in disbelief.
That’s one of the major strengths of Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD is in the way it presents various character dramas throughout the story. This is readily apparent early on in the game, but it comes more into play as you progress. For example, Aveline’s relationship with her Assassin mentor has some ups and downs, and you begin to see how they have different opinions on how things should be handled. This actually plays an integral part within the story, and the differences the two characters take in their approaches defines each as their own realised character. This isn’t the only character arc within the story though, as Aveline also seems to have someone significant crushing on her. As you watch the two characters interact, it seems as though she becomes more and more fond of the man. We personally find the relationship a little forced, but you’re never really shown all of everything in this game, so it’s possible it’s developed off-screen.
Actually that’s something we thought was a bit jarring in this game. The way each sequence was joined sometimes made the games story feel like it was connected by jigsaw pieces that fitted together, but the pieces in-between were clearly burned in a fire or eaten by a baby. It fits the theme of the game, but sometimes things just happen and it’s hard to work out the initial context when you’re playing at 1AM at night and high on caffeine. However, after watching some cutscenes, you do start to fill in the blanks and it does get a bit less convoluted. As an aside, we’re not sure if we somehow skipped some scenes or if it’s meant to be this way.
From a gameplay perspective, Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD feels a lot more refined than it’s parent game. This is probably because it is adapted from a handheld version of the game, so the controls would probably have been a bit more tightened. On saying this, it is readily apparent that the game also carries the same flaws as it’s mothership title. The rock-paper-scissors combat is still present in this release, as is the simpler parkour/free-running scheme.
The rock-paper-scissors combat present in this particular game is just as terrible as it was in three. We’re glad that you can opt to not get into traditional fights throughout most of the game, and can take opponents sneakily, or just outright avoid some of them. We did have a lot of fun with the Berserk Poisons though. These ranged blow-gun darts turn enemies against each other. Good times.
One of the problems we had with the free-running was that quite often, Aveline would just run, climb and jump onto whichever she felt was necessary. This caused some grief for us, but for the most part, it worked fine. Does anyone play Assassin’s Creed games by running along the ground? Or does everyone use the trees and roofs? We generally tried to avoid touching the ground as much as possible, although, sometimes it was quicker or easier to just take the footpath.
From what we could tell, there is a fair bit of side-content to work through within the game. There are some sub mission that require you to do random tasks littered across New Orleans. There’re also a bunch of shops to buy and buy from, which give you increased functionality within the game. We did enjoy that you could buy a full traditional Assassin outfit within the game and opted to use that as often as we could. It should be noted that we were a little annoyed that we were forced to use Aveline’s traditional costume in the meeting with Assassin’s Creed III’s Connor. There’s also a boat-smuggling-transportation minigame/management simulator that builds funds quickly, but we didn’t use it much as it doesn’t feel particularly Assassin.
Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD is, in our opinion, the game that should have been released as Assassin’s Creed III. It felt much closer to previous Assassin’s Creed games than the game it is spun-off from, and its scope is much tighter. Being a bit more constricted by the limitations of the Vita that this game was initially built on allowed this title to flourish by having a theme and sticking to it. It was an incredibly fun play, and while it may not be the biggest or best game. It’s definitely one that should be picked up.
Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD is published and developed by Ubisoft. It is available on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 devices. We played on the PC and definitely recommend this version to everyone, it’s $28 on Steam. Be sure to check out our video series where we playthrough the game before getting this review out. There are eight parts in total with the last one coming up very soon.