S&S Review: Assassin's Creed III Liberation HD


Title: Assassin's Creed Liberation HD
Format: PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: January 14, 2013
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Price: $19.99
ESRB Rating: M

One of my more favorite Vita titles, Assassin's Creed Liberation, has made it's way onto consoles in the form of a HD remake.  Unfortunately, the game's transition onto home consoles was not a good one.

Story and Presentation:
The narrative in Assassin's Creed III: Liberation takes place in New Orleans, before and during the great American Revolution. Its pretty much the same time period as AC III, but instead of being in Boston, you're in the Big Easy. It wasn't really easy in the life of Aveline de Grandpre, during the time of slavery and hardship, her mother suddenly disappears. This is really the gist of Aveline's backstory, she then falls into the Assassin's Brotherhood, where she thrives on liberating herself, and her people. You're probably wondering who's the person in the Animus reliving their past, well there is nobody, Liberation has taken a different path into telling the story of Aveline. Abstergo Industries presents the life of story has a part of historical entertainment, its a cool idea, and it has a great potential for more stories featuring the Brotherhood. The series' first female protagonist is a strong one, but the fact that basically all of her backstory gets left in the wind, holds her from reaching any kind of stardom. The game looks really good, the Vita's impressive hardware performs well as the city of New Orleans gets beautifully recreated. The many cultures of 18th century of New Orleans are all captured with great historical accuracies. You will be venturing outside of New Orleans, and those locations look great as well. Aveline's many animations all look great, and her kills aren't too shabby either. We've all come to expect top-notch production values when it comes to Assassin's Creed, and Liberation is no slouch in the series. The framerate can dip at times, mostly when doing some of the more complex moves. Its pretty unfortunate, but it doesn't happen that much to make you want to put the game down. Just like AC3, the musical score is great. It drives the game just as much as the story. Aveline is voiced perfectly, she is a strong character, and her actor doesn't hold back. Native French speakers sound authentic as they bring life into a culturally diverse city.
Core Gameplay:
The gameplay in AC3: Liberation takes a lot of old mechanics and mixes them in with some cool new ideas. You're still dealing death to enemy soldiers, looking for any chance to counter and go in for the kill. The finely-tuned controls have been transferred to the Vita without any hiccups. Thanks to the dual analog sticks, everything feels familiar and tight from the console versions. You still get those frustrating leap to your imminent death moments, but I've grown accustomed to those, being an avid fan of these games. Also, a few new touch controls don't feel well planned, just awkward. They don't add anything to the game, it probably shouldn't have been added. Over the span of Aveline's 10 memory sequences, the varied missions are really fun. Liberation introduces the multiple-identity system, where Aveline can switch between three different personas. Her lady persona allows her to charm any man in her path, her slave persona allows her to sneak onto plantations and infiltrate different establishments, while her assassin's persona is for everything in between. Its a really neat idea, but it ultimately just feels contrived.

The game openly tells you which persona to use when needed, this erases any bit of creative ideas the game falsely gives you. When you get the option of traversing the swampy bayou, there really isn't that much to do. The area could have been a haven for new side missions, but ends up being a place to battle the occasional gator. Don't expect the rich world found in Assassin's Creed III, its more barren, to say the least. There is a multiplayer component in the game, but its probably not what you would expect. Is an asynchronous mode where you choose between the Brotherhood, or the Templars. You'll find various nodes throughout the world which you can tap, then you can send troops to attack or defend a certain point. It sorta gives you a little bit of a Tug-of-War mechanic with other players, but ends up being a snore pretty quickly.
*HD Update:
I was hoping that with the HD transition onto consoles, Ubisoft would fix and smooth out most of the issues present in the Vita version, but that wasn't what I got.  This is probably one of the roughest HD remakes since the Zone of the Enders makeover.  The only noticeable improvement is obviously the visual fidelity.  The game didn't look bad on the Vita, but it still is a definite upgrade playing it on a big screen.  This is probably the only positive I found in the remake, and that's pretty disappointing in my book.  I expected the framerate to be a much smoother affair this time around, but it was actually worse.  The framerate chugs constantly, which can really take you out of the immersion.  There are a number of other technical issues that made it from the Vita version as well.  There is still the frequent texture pop-in as you traverse your way through the town, as well as the awkward animations that have always plagued the Assassin's Creed series.  Now that you're not using a touchscreen anymore, the mini-games that utilized the Vita feature have been replaced by more standard gameplay elements.  Ubisoft also took some of the more lackluster features found in the Vita version out of the remake, which is a plus in my book.
Final Thoughts:
I've recently come off of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and it made the issues with Liberation stand out a bit more.  The combat is still solid, but the missions aren't as fun as in Black Flag.  Even with that said, if you're craving more Assassin's Creed lore, Liberation is still fun at times.  However, the technical issues are too persistent, and will constantly break immersion.
S&S Rating: 6/10
@whatsPlay

Comments

  1. I never expected Uncharted 4 to release this year. I think this is something that will take Naughty Dog longer then usual due to the change to PS4 development. We'll see it launch Q3/4 of 2015 I say. Sucks that we have to wait so long but it'll be worth it for sure! :)

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