23 people found this review helpful
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 12.4 hrs on record
Posted: Feb 13, 2014 @ 4:48am

Assassin's Creed: Liberation (AC:L) is a rather interesting entry in the AC franchise. It's clear that the developers tried to actually add some new things, and took some risks where the mainline entries play it safe. Ubisoft Bulgaria has been relatively successful too with these changes and additions. The persona system in particular is a welcome addition, as it makes the stealth elements of the game somewhat more sensible and adds some welcome diversity. If Aveline dresses as a lady, she has limited combat ability and no free running ability, but can be far more stealthy and can conduct actual assassinations from time to time. If she dresses as a slave, she has somewhat greater combat ability, can free run and can still slip into quite a few places unnoticed, but she is easily spotted if she does anything out of character and in open combat is noticeably inferior to the assassin persona. The assassin persona then is what people are used to from the AC franchise, with the exception that as an assassin, Aveline is always regarded as suspicious by guards, which makes a good deal of sense given the veritable smithy she carries around with her.

Another positive aspect of the game is that the protagonist is a significant improvement over both Connor and Edward Kenway, who both were wasted opportunities. Aveline is a strong character with a clear independent streak, and who has sensible relations with other people in her life. Her voice actress also does a good job, which is especially noticeable in the short section of the game where she meets Connor. Her background is also used much better as a way to tell stories from the perspectives of slaves, where this opportunity was largely wasted for Native Americans in Assassin's Creed III. It is of course still not perfect - game developers still hesitate to show the full brutality and barbarity of slavery in the way that films now do - but it is a significant step ahead of other big budget games.

The game is however not perfect. While Aveline is an interesting character, and they do showcase some interesting things, the story is on the whole not very interesting, and fails to feel like a cohesive whole. I suspect that much story content has been cut over development, perhaps in an effort to cut the game down to a suitable size for handhelds. I should also mention that with regards to story, the game does not have you leave the game world at any point, so for those who hate the present day sections in all the other Assassin's Creed titles, that might be a big plus.

While I can only guess when it comes to the story, when it comes to other elements, it is undeniable that the game suffers from being originally developed for a handheld platform. Missions are generally too easy, with even the side objectives incredibly generous, so as to be more forgiving to compensate for poorer handheld controls. There is also noticeable cutting in missions, with what would normally be one mission cut into several smaller chunks to facilitate the start-stop nature of handheld gaming. While some might not mind, I found it reduced the flow of the game and on the whole made it feel like less of a 'grand' affair and more of a mundane experience where you complete small tasks. In presentation too the game suffers from being developed for handhelds, because while the HD port has unquestionably improved things massively, it has left the game with a rather inconsistent visual appearance. Some sections look excellent, but a terrible draw distance and the sparse design of many parts of the game world make it all too clear that this was not a game initially developed for a capable platform.

Overall, I would recommend AC:L to fans of the franchise. The game is generally a successful entry in the series, and I think most people who have played through the other AC games will appreciate some of the new mechanics and the other ways in which AC:L differs from its console counterparts. I also hope that those developing future Assassin's Creed titles will try to incorporate some of the things AC:L does well, rather than just discarding them, as has been the case with so many added mechanics and features throughout the series. 6.5/10
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