Assassin's Creed III: Liberation - Review (Vita)

Let’s be serious here - The Vita is a struggling handheld. In my opinion, there are only 2 games worth having (3, if you count Gravity Rush, which I hear is good): Mortal Kombat and Assassin’s Creed: Liberation. Personally, I think that the Vita is a great system, but the fact that Sony priced it so high crippled it as soon as it was released. That being said, Liberation is THE reason you should own a Vita.

Let’s get into it.

Story: 9/10
As with ACIII, the story takes center stage in Liberation. It follows the first female protagonist of the series, Aveline de Grandpre, one of the last members of the Louisiana sect of the assassin order, as she liberates African slaves from captivity during the same time period featured in ACIII. Some have complained about the story’s simplicity, but I rather enjoyed the tight, compact story offered in Liberation. It was a good change of pace from the regular, politically-fused, complicated plotlines of the console games. Also, Aveline is more of an interesting character than Connor – so much so that I find myself torn between who should take the leading role in a sequel. Perhaps both could share center stage? There are rumors…

Visuals: 8/10
For a handheld title, Liberation has the best graphics seen yet. Colonial-Era New Orleans is captured beautifully here, but the ambition of bringing a true Assassin’s Creed game to a portable is its own downfall. Because of the size and scope of the playing area, the framerate can get pretty chuggy at times. Contrary to what a lot of other reviews and players say, it is by no means unplayable and is otherwise quite pretty.

Sound: 9/10
While the sound design is nowhere near its console big brother, Liberation’s music is its shining achievement. Winifred Phillips, new to the series, perfectly captures the “bayou” feel of the game, all the while bringing in the epic flourishes AC is known for . In no way does Phillips ever copy or “rip off,” but she seems to draw several influences from classic videogame soundtracks to create something quite unique by mixing traditional game scoring techniques and flairs of the cinematic. Like the console game, the soundtrack is available for download at and is mandatory for folks like myself that love videogame music.

Gameplay: 8/10
Thankfully, all the changes to ACIII’s gameplay (the annoying “mini-games”) have been replaced by a system which allows the main character, Aveline, to switch between 3 different personas: The Lady, The Slave, and The Assassin. Switching between these personas limits her abilities as far as combat and free running, but grants her options for certain situations. By switching to the slave persona, she can infiltrate areas such as plantations without detection. If in the Lady persona, Aveline can charm her way past guards. The Assassin persona is exactly what you think it is: Aveline dons here brotherhood gear and gains the normal assassin abilities seen throughout the series, but also gains a considerable amount of notoriety and has a higher rate of detection. While this system is an excellent concept, it is unfortunately under-utilized except when the story dictates that you change personas.
There are a few things which use the features of the Vita’s touch screen and pad, but nothing which either detracts, or adds to the experience.

Controls: 5/10
Remember in the ACIII review where I talked about my ‘B’ button having problems? I have the same problem with the Vita’s equivalent (circle button), only here it’s 10x worse. I very seldom was able to land a counter and was forced to rapidly tap ‘circle’ in order to deflect enemy attacks. This made the combat in the game extremely frustrating throughout and is why the score is so low. Other than that, the control scheme and overall gameplay is exactly the same as its console counterpart, save for the new persona system.

Is Assassin’s Creed: Liberation worth the full price? Yes. Not only is it worth full price, it’s also worth owning a Vita for, as this is the best game for the system. A top-notch story, great graphics for a portable, and amazing music easily outweigh the gameplay and control issues. Also, it might be a good idea to pick this up if you’re an Assassin’s Creed fan – if nothing else but to see where the series is about to go now that Desmond’s story has come to a close.

Final Score: 8/10
I can't take credit for these screenshots. These were taken from Google Images because of the difficulty in taking screenshots of the Vita.

Posted on January 2, 2013 .