As the once vast differences between console and handheld games begin to shrink the question most often on gamers minds is it possible to create a console experience on a mere handheld?
With Technology increasing at an exponential rate and miniaturization keeping a steady pace it has become more and more likely that in the near future the difference between a console and a handheld will disappear completely. Some current advocates of this point at the PS Vita with its fast CPU and near PS3 level graphics and one of the big tests of this fledgling handheld is how it handles a 3rd party blockbuster franchise with a standalone title on it.
Specifically Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Liberation. In which you play for the first time a female assassin and are also playing during the same time events as Assassin’s Creed III and even at one point join up with Conner for a mission. The most important question is does Liberation feel like the rest of the series and does it live up to its console brethren in terms of scope, story, game play, and graphics.
As is often the problem with trying to create a standalone title in a universe in which all of the other games of the series are sequels, you have to make your game stand out in some unique ways, without making it feel like something completely alien. This is unfortunately where this game falls flat. When it is staying true to its roots it feels and plays like assassins creed should, with fast paced platforming and combat that feels suitably epic.
The story is…as complicated as always with the proper twists and turns that go into making a Assassins Creed game. It centers around our heroine Aveline de Grandpre who is an assassin under a Master who as the game goes on you find out she has been manipulated and lied too and not just as Aveline but also as the player of the game which is a piece of propaganda for Abstergo Industries the current Templar faction and to expose the truth the game itself is “hacked” exposing some cutscenes that reveal more of the story that the makers didn’t want you to see.
Now the main problem and they also seem to use this as a selling point is the Personas. They are different outfits you wear that let you pass unnoticed in different areas, you have the slave persona, the lady persona and the assassin persona. The problem with this system is that it limits your movement and combat options. In a series where exploration and freedom of movement is one of the hallmarks, this seems stifling and such a departure from its roots that at times I was wondering what series I was playing because it didnt feel anything like the Assassins Creed that I knew and loved. The Lady persona is the worst of the lot, you cannot climb you can barely run and you are frequently attacked because of this, and due to the aforementioned lack of ability to escape makes it all but impossible not to wind up in violent encounters which up your noteriety and attract guards.
This game has potential though and some good ideas I would like to see carried over, especially the mini game where you send out ships and trade goods, it can be suprisingly addictive, as you trade between ports and manage what goods you ship between each one.
Now the story is convoluted even by this series standards and seems at points to assume you know information that you don’t which is fine, because it tends to explain it later on anyway but in the moment it is annoying as all hell and leads you to wonder what the hell is going on. I am all for mystery but that is kind of ridiculous even by Assassins Creed standards. One of the best story missions though, is when you meet up with Conner the main protaganist from AC3 when you are sent on a mission east.
Now I mentioned earlier how traversal has always been part of the series, and in this respect this game delivers and then some, running through the swamps and the bayou’s not touching the ground at all as you leap from tree to tree is exhilirating in a way that feels all too familiar, and I love it.
All in all this game rises and falls on how similar it is to the main series, and when it follows in its footsteps it is everything you want from an AC game, but where it strays more often then not it fails, what does this mean for the game as a whole? It means that overall it is a great game, that is marred by a few flaws that could have been fixed or thought about and altered ahead of time. The largest flaw is the personas, and in some ways it is this one particular feature that is the most eggregious of the faults, without this I feel the rest could be easily overlooked.