Assassin's Creed III: Liberation Review

Despite a strong protagonist and a wealth of interesting ideas, Assassin's Creed III: Liberation falls short of the series' standards.

Aveline de Grandpre is a fascinating character. Not only is the heroine of Assassin's Creed III: Liberation the series' first female protagonist, but her backstory deals with one of the darkest periods in American history. This is a woman born from the romance between a wealthy father and a slave mother, someone who has overcome her uncertain upbringing to find a new life in the Assassin Brotherhood. She's the sort of figure capable of anchoring a truly special game--making it all the more disappointing that Liberation, taken as a whole, is a bit dull.

The New Orleans of Assassin's Creed III: Liberation is a beautiful, if somewhat dangerous, place.

It's not that Liberation lacks for new ideas. In fact, this Vita spin-off introduces a number of intriguing concepts. Rather than one of Desmond Miles' trips through the Animus, the narrative in Liberation is framed as a piece of historical entertainment delivered by Abstergo Industries, the illusive corporation that serves as the series' overarching antagonist. It is, in other words, a story about Assassins as told by Templars.

There's great potential here for the type of storytelling unique to an unreliable narrator, yet Liberation takes little advantage of its own narrative format. Though the story deals with such heavy themes as slavery and the cultural identity of a city transitioning from French to Spanish rule, it's a largely aimless and hastily delivered plot that sees Aveline bounce around like a pinball from one enemy to the next for the bulk of the game. There are occasional flashes of excitement when a mysterious hacker infiltrates Abstergo's narrative to offer you the "truth" about these events, but they amount to little more than a handful of extended cutscenes back-loaded toward the end of the game.

The bayou is filled with trees to climb and swamps to swim through. Too bad there isn't much more to do.

The greatest casualty of Liberation's muddled storytelling is Aveline herself. She's introduced as an intriguing and strong-willed character, but Aveline's personality is hardly explored beyond that initial introduction. Her recruitment into the Assassin Brotherhood is quickly glossed over, while her gender and mixed ethnicity only occasionally factor into the story. These are interesting traits that you wish the game would explore in more detail, but it's more concerned with a dizzying roster of villains and side characters than spending much time on the heroine at its center.

Where Liberation shines brightest is its re-creation of the city Aveline calls home. This is a brilliant version of 18th-century New Orleans, one that beautifully reflects the diverse cultural ambience formed over years of operating as a French trading port. You often venture outside the city too, spending time with smugglers in the bayou as well as journeying to a couple more locations well beyond Louisiana (though to name them would be spoiling things). These locales look terrific, easily rivaling the rich vistas of Liberation's console counterparts. It's enough to make you stop and soak up the atmosphere during those moments you're scaling a church tower to synchronize the world map.

Sometimes you've just gotta stop and smell the dogs.

Unfortunately, you really do have to stop to appreciate the world around you because when things get moving, the Vita hardware tends to struggle under the weight of Ubisoft's graphical ambitions. The frame rate drops precipitously when you hit a dead sprint, and large-scale fights against more than four or five enemies will make things chug as well. It's too bad, because these frame rate issues severely impact the fluid and freewheeling style of urban parkour that has long been the greatest strength of this franchise. Likewise, these visual hiccups don't do any favors to an otherwise refined combat system, which disposes of manual lock-on in favor of a more flexible and intuitive approach to swordfights.

It's a good thing, then, that Liberation offers you plenty of opportunities to slow things down and take out enemies one by one. There are occasional bombastic set pieces, but much of the mission design harks back to older Assassin's Creed games, where stalking your targets from the rooftops or silently following them to their hideouts took precedence over vehicular chases and scripted chaos.

Liberation suffers from a few awkward touch controls, but targeting an enemy with a simple tap is a nice feature.

Indeed, Aveline is every bit the capable assassin Ezio and Altair were. And in many ways, she's got even more tricks up her sleeve. Liberation introduces a multiple-identity system that allows Aveline to dress in slave garb, ladies' formal wear, or stylish assassin gear. Each guise carries its own strengths and weaknesses, while notoriety levels are split across three separate pools. It's an interesting system in the game's early goings, allowing you to do things like charm your way past guards as a well-dressed lady or infiltrate plantations as a slave. But any strategic depth this identity system offers is eclipsed by its limitations: the slave persona is useful only in extremely specific story moments, while the formal wear prohibits her from sprinting and platforming; she's forced to navigate the sprawling city at a light jog. By the end of the game, you find yourself defaulting to the tried-and-true assassin's attire at nearly every opportunity.

It's especially odd that Liberation would take away your ability to freely dart about the world, because, frame rate issues aside, the platforming is more exciting than it has ever been. As in Assassin's Creed III, you're no longer limited to climbing buildings and man-made structures; you can now dash up trees, scale cliffs, and leap effortlessly from branch to branch. These traversal enhancements are especially highlighted in Liberation's swampy, imposing version of the Louisiana bayou, where fallen trees and endless swamps dominate the scenery.

A half-baked romantic subplot is one of the many ways Liberation fails to develop Aveline as a character.

If only there were more going on out there. Aside from the occasional alligator encounter, there's almost nothing to do in the wilderness. There's no hunting, no cabin in the woods to build up--it's almost entirely navigating from one story mission to the next. That's less of an issue in the city portion of the gameworld, where there is a decent collection of side quests and optional distractions; still, Liberation's New Orleans isn't nearly as rich with content as the cities Ezio explored.

Which is not to say that Liberation is free of secondary content. As the story unfolds, Aveline becomes involved in her father's business empire. This allows you to invest your money in the purchase of ships and various goods (coffee, fruit, leather, and so on) and send those vessels along trade routes all over the Atlantic in an effort to gain the maximum return on your investments. Like managing assassins in previous games, it's an oddly compelling strategy minigame that serves as a nice change of pace from the action surrounding it.

Even more interesting (though perhaps not as well executed) is the online multiplayer, which pits Assassins against Templars in a map-based battle for worldwide domination. It's essentially a card game where you collect assassins of various statistical abilities and then send them into fights across the world in an effort to capture those cities for your chosen side. There's a strange allure in the way it feels like a science-fiction-tinged cross between Pokemon and Risk, but it's hard to imagine this feature has the staying power of the console multiplayer experience.

The trading screen is a fun way to earn some extra cash.

And yet, such fun diversions are more the exception than the rule. Though Assassin's Creed III: Liberation toys around with intriguing concepts and centers its story around a character you desperately want to know more about, none of it comes together especially well. Liberation often excels, but it stumbles just as much. The result is a game that fails to bear the standard of quality that has defined this series for years.

The Good
Beautiful Louisiana scenery
Intriguing protagonist
The Bad
Muddled storytelling
Frame rate issues
Squanders its most unique ideas
6.5
Fair
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0 comments
Hurvl
Hurvl

Lol, -2 comments it says here.

Ayamuri
Ayamuri

I sort of want a Vita just for this time but I'll also need to find a list of other Vita games as I don't want to get it and barely use it (I also have a PS3 and a 3DS so finding enough games for all three to get my complete value is a bit difficult). I decided though to check out this review as I have a friend that's a semi-fan of AC and has a Vita but didn't want to get the game due to reviews. So, I decided to see what was so horrible. 

He's more of a PC gamer though so...no offense to him, I suppose it makes sense this wouldn't appeal to him. I'm going to call this review fair, though. All negatives and positives of the game are laid out so you can read through and find out what's a make or break. The person below me disliked the sound quality and a few others have mentioned that it has bad rendering while quite a few others disagree. If even the possibility of the game having playback hiccups is a turnoff, this doesn't seem like the game for you. Frankly, I seem to be drawn anyways to most games with bad or "meh" reviews and the storyline of this intrigued me from what I've read in the AC encyclopedia. If I can find at least two other titles that are worth playing on the Vita (any advice, people? I don't do first person shooters, not a massive fan of racing games --I already have Gran Turismo 5 for the PS3-- and I've filled my fighting game quota with Tekken Tag 2 though I saw someone else mention Gravity Rush which I also thought looked fun so one more game to go! :), I might truly look into getting this.

bakasora
bakasora

They should add a busted sound emblem for this game because the sound quality is really terrible.

XGreen
XGreen

Is That Graphics Is Great? I Will Buy PS vita and that game

 

RenegadeGR
RenegadeGR

is it possible for them to get a patch that fixes the frame rate issues?

Sulima
Sulima

Great game - just finished it. Definitely worth buying for any fan of the series - you owe it to yourself to play the game. Over the hours and hours of gameplay I had 2 visible slowdowns near the end but that was with a lot of npcs on the screen and just for 2-3 seconds each time, so it did not bother me at all. Overall a very solid game with no issues (some minor pop-in when running through the cities). The level with Connor in winter was awesome, as were soem of the dungeon levels. Amazing that they were able to do all that with a handheld device. Just keep in mind that it is a handheld device and not a PS3 with 60 inch TV in your hand :)

InquisitorCrox
InquisitorCrox

I am in the 7th sequence and i have yet to face those frame rate issues.

I have fought 4 redcoats with 2 NPCs beside me, i got in a chase with 9+redcoats in my back and faced to lag during my parcour escaping attempts.

When exactly those frame rate issues appear, where and vs how many enemies?

Could this be that i installed the day one patch and never live apps open during my faming sessions?

The only bug i faced so far was a graphic glitch with a cat appearing close to mw from nowhere, during a town run.

samus_my_life
samus_my_life

Honestly, all assassin creed series are magnificent so I already gave it a shot yeah

TacticalKuma
TacticalKuma

I really love the game. But i just hate the lag and the frame issues it has...

Molohkk
Molohkk

Be ware, it has some serious bugs. Twice it corrupted my saved data, and I lost all in-game progress.

 

I loved the main character and the game, but it's all ruined by a broken game.

DeadLight2080
DeadLight2080

6.0 hmmm .... thgen it will come to pc 2 months later like I Am Alive ... np I Like both but treat well with pcs Ubi ;)

Sulima
Sulima

People seem to be forgetting that this is a handheld game. For what it offers - which is the ability to play on the go, to jump in and out of the game within seconds - and play whenever you have time time, wherever you are. Its not a PS3/Xbox experience, but it comes pretty close. Its a great game and I highly recommend it for anyone who likes the AC series. All the key aspects of the game are there (maybe some of the background story is missing, but for a handheld game I do not care for the story, I want to jump in, do a mission, and go on with my day). Buy it - its really good!!

xxsuperbananaxx
xxsuperbananaxx

I agree with the review. The game is worth playing if you have a Vita. Aveline is an interesting protagonist and the setting is awesome. It's the story that feels weak. The entire first memory sequence for example I really didn't know what was going on, luckily I was able to get into it more during the second sequence. Some of the mechanics are weird too, but overall it's still an intriguing Assassins Creed game. I do wish they had spent a little more time refining the storytelling though.

Eikichi-Onizuka
Eikichi-Onizuka

I wish they wouldn't force touch controls in these kinds of games(Assassin's Creed,Uncharted, etc).

Cybrggame
Cybrggame

I wonder if Ubisoft made it's goal for a release date too lofty? Its not normal for an assassin's creed game to get this kind of rating.

Retr0Geek
Retr0Geek

I love this game, one of my favorites, i have played this game for sooo many hours  form doing the missions following the story  and just roaming around and i have not incountered anyproblems at all, it runs smooth. you have to get this game you just have to.

thepayne78
thepayne78

Think Assassins Creed III Liberation  would have had better quality if it had been released on consoles. That being said if it was not for it getting a PSVita bundle I never would have gotten a Vita.

 

So far have not gotten too far in it but have not encounter the slow down issues described when fighting 4 or more opponents, of course the most I have fought is 3. 

 

I really like Aveline as a character and I definitely hope she is not the last female  Assassin we got to play in an AC game.   It is just shame that they do not spend more time on giving you her back story like how she became an Assassin. 

 

The main  feature I really hope to see used in future AC games is the various personas.  I like that  they had different abilities and made you think differently about the way you had to reach your objectives while wearing them.  But the reviewer is right outside of story missions requiring you to use a certain persona the Assassin persona was the one you used the most. 

 

Whenever the next AC game comes out hopefully for not at least 2-3 years. Why 2-3? years because as much as I like the series  , to me it is time for Ubisoft to give it a rest. Take it away for a while and then bring it back hopefully combining  various elements from AC III liberation and AC III and some new aspects we have not seen before to make us appreciate the franchise all over again. 

The_Great_Purge
The_Great_Purge

WTF? 6.5? Lol.

I didn't even notice that they reviewed this game (my attention was on ACIII for ps3). This game is the one I'm considering to buy. The game that will convince me to buy the PS Vita handheld. The bundle I promised to buy for my wife. 3DS is definitely killing the Vita, somehow, because the Vita is killing itself.

Now forget it. Maybe next year. Maybe when they release PS all-stars battle royale.

Is the graphics really that bad and the frame rate issues? Probably Uncharted is better than this game, right?

Husko
Husko

I've just only started this game as I purchased it as a bundle with the vita.  I am a bit surprised by the blury graphics.  Makes me wish I had just stuck with my ipad3.  Might be returning the vita, just have to hurry and finish this game before I do lolz.  One of the things that mad me think 'wtf' is how the character feels like the run animation is in slow motion.

Heavenly_King
Heavenly_King

I have this game, and I think it is a solid 8/10.  Great game, with awesome graphics, and fun gameplay.

Leir_Bag
Leir_Bag

It's a fair review. I'm not a jerk, and because I disagreed with Gravity Rush's review GS did, I"ll check this game out. That doesn't mean it's an untrue review.

 

I think that what this game does right is exactly what I wanted it to do: Prove that assassin stabing, free running fun is possible on the Vita. And, framedrops aside, it seems it is.

Lanzo86
Lanzo86

One thing I can say is I check out all new releases on GS before buying them ,I still buy games that GS give mediocre scores 5-7.5 .But I see no Favoritisim in GS they give alot of games low scores on on all platforms.Check this out yourself and you will see its true.

I would rather GS give a game an average score I try it and like it and its a 9 to me than they give games 10 and hype it up and I buy it and its a 5 at best.

 

The way I see it is GS is supercritical  so at least when GS gives a game 8-10 you know is worth getting.

Amino80
Amino80

Rubbish review, this is a great game. It's a shame crap like this will stop people from trying out the game.

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

This game is amazing and do not have any frame rate issues!!!! I am loving every second of it. It is true tho, GS gives vita games low half ass reviews. Gravity Rush for example? that game was a blast!!!! Either GS needs to retrain these guys and remind them what GS stands for, or simply hire new ones!!

 

Sad to say, because I would never wish a loss of job on anyone.

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

 @DeadLight2080 

 

I hope they port it to PC or some other platform.  This was the only reason I wanted to get a Vita, and if it does get ported, I wont have to anymore.  Then I can start saving up for a 3DS, although I'm still waiting for them to release the eventual 2 analog stick version.  Not sure why they didn't do that first instead of releasing the XL.

Azugo
Azugo

 @Eikichi-Onizuka I think that usually these kinds of novelties pass a year or two into the consoles release. The Sixaxis for PS3 comes to mind -- a lot of developers wanted us to use that with a few early PS3 exclusive games (like log-balancing in Uncharted), now it's almost nonexistent.

 

I think (hope) that the same will happen with the Vita's touch, gyro and camera functions being phased out in games as well.

Prodigy_Son
Prodigy_Son

@Retr0Geek

You're delusional alongside anyone else who claims the game runs smooth. You love the game so much that you are oblivious to its faults. The game does not run smooth -- the frame rate is horrible. Assassin's Creed Liberation has the worst frame rate I have ever experienced in a game. When walking or running around exploring the large cities the game has a constant stutter and is rarely smooth. When exploring the large cities the game’s frame rate bounces between 14, 18, 20, and 22 frames per second. The game also has many bugs and glitches that have not been fixed by the updates released by Ubisoft. You’re entitled to your opinion, but your opinion where you state the game runs smooth is not factual and misleading. I'm running the game with the latest update 1.02 and the frame rate is still horrendous. People like you who spew false information set a very low bar for developers like Ubisoft to strive for. People like you make developers think it's acceptable to release unpolished games that are riddled with bugs, glitches, and persistent frame rate issues.

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

 @thepayne78 Ubisoft already said theyre working on the next Assassins game...dunno when theyll release it though but they also give the impression that theyll be doing it semi annually

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

@The_Great_Purge the game is amazing. i have no framerate issue yet and yes its way better than uncharted

Minasodrom
Minasodrom

@Lanzo86 absolutely agree, except with the zelda review :P that was not supercritical but just plain wrong. love tom mcshea though..

PillsberyDoeMan
PillsberyDoeMan

 @Amino80 ya, for realz! you tell em! i plan on trying it out. just as soon as the price goes down. good thing i checked the review scores first.

SolidSnakeFan
SolidSnakeFan

 @Cozm1kaos I don't think you know what you're talking about if you don't notice a bad frame rate.

 

GS editors are going nowhere, and I'm glad. I get to see out of touch outrage from people like yourself. Reevaluate your life; figure out what led you to a review of a game you already hold in a high regard, and figure out what led you to suggest the firings of people with their own opinion.

 

If you want shoveled nonstop praise and noncritical sentiments into your ignorant, close minded gullet, stick to Ubisoft's and Sony's official forums.

ClaudiusCaesar
ClaudiusCaesar

 @arc_salvo  You can buy a Vita right now and keep saving for the 3DS with dual stick, because that could take a looong waiting.

thepayne78
thepayne78

 @IanNottinghamX   

It does not surprise me they are working on the next one. Personally just do not want it to become like the Medal of Honor or Call of Duty franchises which have a new game every year. Every 2-3 years would not have a problem with that. Just afraid if Ubisoft releases a yearly AC game me and many other fans will just get burnt out on the franchise.   Don't get me wrong love the AC games  but kind of need a break from them. on occasion. 

johnrare
johnrare

 @Cozm1kaos  @The_Great_Purge well there no frame rate issue but there been issue where the game close by itself or the controller is not responding the why that the player want it to.......

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

@SolidSnakeFan i do no what i am talking about. I was pushed out of my moms beep with a controler in my hand. i stoped thought hard than realized that perhaps you are a bit outraged on others opinions. instead of reading reviews you read others, thinking of ways to lash at the with you english major. i am not ignorent in fact if you read other ppls comments you would realize that we all have the same opinion. :)

KadeStorm
KadeStorm

 @SolidSnakeFan  @Cozm1kaos I don't know if I fully agree with your sentiments about the game in question. However, your post--as a whole--is by far, one of the best comments I have read on a video game website in over a bloody eternity! Well said!

It's about time people looked up the meaning of words such as columns, editorials, opinions in the context of writing. It's bloody absurd to fire people for having opinions, which are obviously not going to always resonate with every last member of the population.

 

And again, very well said; if people want blind brand loyalty, they should remain on the official forums as opposed to contaminating external sources with their jarring condemnation of 'free opinion'.

Ayamuri
Ayamuri

@SANDMAN201 @arc_salvo @DeadLight2080 This is heavily influenced by opinion of course and also if you've been a fan from the start but I'm currently enjoying Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. I've not finished it, but they show several world clusters that you must defeat so you have an idea of how long the game is. As long as no other clusters randomly appear, I'll say that I'm about 75% done. It also features the characters from The World Ends With You, a Square-Enix DS game that I also found interesting and actually makes using the stylus fun (as opposed to it feeling like you *could* use the stylus in a game...but why? Using it is easier in TWEWY). While I'd of course recommend playing at the very least, the main titles of Kingdom Hearts (initially released on the PS2), KH3D allows you to read up on all of the games, meaning you can be new to the series and still understand it. Not nearly as fun as playing it...but I say maybe look around for other reviews to see if it might be up your aisle if you need something new for the 3DS :)

Oosaka-chan
Oosaka-chan

 @KadeStorm  Off-topic: I don't know whether you are a girl or a poet, but either way, it's f*cking irritating how you express yourself in your superior tone. Write about whatever you want, but please stop acting like a douchebag.

KadeStorm
KadeStorm

 @Durghy  @Cozm1kaos  @SolidSnakeFan More importantly, someone should seriously introduce this person to the idea of appeal to popularity. A common, community opinion, while well and uniting, isn't necessarily a virtue of the opinion being any more or less 'valid'.

Durghy
Durghy

 @Cozm1kaos  @SolidSnakeFan Hahaha... Are you 9? Your grammar is absolute sh*t , your spelling is worse, and I think you claimed to have an English major or you're saying that, just because he could type coherently he has an English major. Anyways... your opinion is your, his opinion is his, and I do not see where everyone's opinion is the same. If everyone's opinion is the same then it is a fact. Do you know what opinion means?

KadeStorm
KadeStorm

 @Zevvion  @SolidSnakeFan  @Cozm1kaos Actually, just because the disparity is generally at a certain level, and then it deviates a bit, doesn't mean much of anything.

Also to the topic of objectivity. I read stuff, I don't all that much sit around admiring numbers. The review was quite objective. I actually like the game. I think to some, it'll be a 6.5, to others, it might be a 7.5. To  me, those aren't fantastic scores, but they're good and a whole step above mediocre. More importantly, if one takes the time to actually read the review, one will find the virtues of this game being adequately lauded.Now if people just come on here to see what number a single columnist/contributor gives to a game in relation to their own 'ideal numbers' and those of the community. That isn't really a quest for objectivity, that is confirmation bias and appeal to popularity.

 

Cheers. 

Zevvion
Zevvion

 @KadeStorm  @SolidSnakeFan  @Cozm1kaos Come on now. I don't know you at all, but you I think you are pretty smart though, am I right?

 

Yes, this guy said GameSpot staff should be fired, but was he really saying that? Read into his post, there obviously is just love for this game and he's pissed off that he yells out something like fire people.

 

What he really means is that he doesn't agree with this review. I'm sure in a while he'll look back on this and realize he didn't want people fired at all. Much like when growing up you may have yelled some bad words at your parents you really didn't mean.

 

I'm sure it's not about brand loyalty though. The truth is allot of people that actually played this game (not the ones blindly backing a relatively low review without playing the game) all seem to think the game is at the very least pretty good if not great.

 

You simply can't state that you just want brand loyalty, while in fact you want some objectivity. It's known that user reviews are generally a little higher than critic's reviews, but not this much. It's fair to question how valuable this review is, while everyone seems to think it's allot better than portrayed here. If you think that's a scream for brand loyalty, then maybe you should stick to sites where people aren't allowed to express their opinion about a review, because it seems to me some questions here and there are justified.

Assassin's Creed III: Liberation More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation Vita
    • + 2 more
    • PS3
    • Xbox 360
    Assassin's Creed III: Liberation has players take on the role of Aveline, the first playable female Assassin in the Assassin’s Creed saga, where you must use your skill, instinct and weaponry to hunt down and eliminate your enemies as you embark on a journey that will take you from the crowded streets of New Orleans through voodoo-haunted swamps and ancient Mayan ruins.
    7.2
    Average User RatingOut of 366 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
    Developed by:
    Ubisoft Sofia, Ubisoft
    Published by:
    Ubisoft
    Genres:
    Action, 3D, Open-World, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood, Suggestive Themes, Violence