Review: Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD (PS3)

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Title: Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.7 GB)
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Sofia
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: M
Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD is also available on Xbox 360 and PC.
The PlayStation Network version was used for this review.

Back in October 2012 the PlayStation Vita received one of its best games, Assassin’s Creed III Liberation. As a brand new handheld at the time, the PlayStation Vita was having issues of breaking into the industry fully and needed a strong AAA title to help prove to people that it was a worth-while purchase. Not only did Assassin’s Creed III Liberation turn into a system seller for the new Sony handheld, it also introduced brand new elements that have not been seen in the series such as a woman lead character and switchable costumes that affect the gameplay.

As an early adopter of the PlayStation Vita I had been eagerly anticipating the time when I could play a game that fulfilled the promise from Sony that the system could do console-quality games and Assassin’s Creed III Liberation did that for me. Though the game had received mixed reviews throughout the industry, I was very pleased with it and hold it as one of the best in the series.

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Now, less than two years later, Ubisoft has decided to give the game an upgrade and bring it to the PlayStation 3.

Gameplay:
Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD puts you in the shoes of Aveline de Grandpré, the first woman assassin for the series. It’s set during the end of the French and Indian War in Louisiana and takes place over a 12 year span. Without diving into the story too much and spoiling it; Aveline takes on a mission to rid the city of New Orleans from the Templar menace and find the answers to her personal quest.

The story of AC Liberation HD, though created for a system where you are expected to play in short bursts, fits perfectly on the PlayStation 3. Since it was created with a shorter game sessions in mind, the story keeps things rolling with very few down moments; keeping you engaged throughout regardless of the amount of time you put into it in one sitting.

The Bayou and New Orleans take the role of the obstacle course in AC Liberation HD, giving Aveline two very different settings to run around in, showing off her parkour skills. New Orleans, besides the occasional Marti Gras decorations, doesn’t stand out as a particularly impressive city, but it is easy to navigate. The Bayou, just as the wilderness in Assassin’s Creed III, is filled with countless trees where Aveline has become an expert of running across branches that are hundreds of feet off the ground.

While the vast majority of the game is a pleasure to play, it isn’t without its issues. The most common of these I ran into was the VERY short-term memory of the guards throughout the game. Just as the other Assassin’s titles, when a guard sees you jumping from roof to roof, or doing something wrong, an arrow will appear above their head and slowly fill as they become more aware of you and what you are doing. Eventually that arrow will turn red, and they will attack. Normally, the enemy AI would work to try and keep you in their sites, making it sometimes rather difficult to shake them off your tail. The guards in AC Liberation HD must have missed a couple of “tailing your enemy” classes because if you just take one step out of their field of view, they totally forget you were ever there.

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On top of the forgetful enemy AI there are times when you can watch an AI character jump back and forth over the same wall, trying to figure out the best way to come after you. After one such occurrence of watching an enemy jump a wall for five minutes, I decided to help him out and put a blade into his back. Those, and other issues, won’t ruin the game for you, but they do remove some of the immersion that Assassin’s Creed games are normally rather good at achieving.

A new addition to the Assassin’s Creed formula that, now playing with it, makes me wonder why this has been left out of all the other titles is Personas. These Personas, or costumes, give a whole new way to play the game. Basically Aveline is able to switch between one of three different Personas at any time, or when a mission tells you to. The three Personas available are: assassin, slave and lady. Each one gives Aveline special abilities that are only available while you have that Persona equipped.

You are introduced to the Persona-system early in the game just after you are given the chance to explore the city and world fully; but instead giving you free reign, initially the game forces you into using the lady Persona where all your wall-climbing abilities as an assassin are gone. While the requirement of wearing certain Personas at specific times isn’t that big of a deal; it does remove some the open-endedness to some missions that you come to expect in an Assassin’s Creed game.

The main story of Aveline’s adventure spans through 10 memory sequences, which is surprising given the fact that this is originally a PlayStation Vita title. Though the individual memories rarely live up to the standard set in the main Assassin’s Creed games, they are fun, quick and enjoyable.

Visuals:
Visually, Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD, blew me away. After just a couple of minutes playing the original game on my PlayStation Vita I realized it was a really great looking game; but when I first heard it was getting “updated” to be on the PlayStation 3…well, lets just say I wasn’t expecting much. I mean, how great would a PlayStation Vita game look blown up? Oh boy, was I in for a treat.

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Don’t get me wrong, it is plainly obvious that AC Liberation HD was not originally made for the PlayStation 3; the anti-aliasing and other issues give that away right from the start. Yet, seeing what Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Sofia were able to do with a handheld title really floored me.

Standing on top of any of the series’ staple synchronization spots and having the camera spin around you, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that you were playing a native PlayStation 3 game; it happened to me a couple of times.

Audio:
Overall, the audio in AC Liberation HD is good, but there are some issues – mainly the voice acting.

Again, another part of the original AC III Liberation that blew me away was the amount of voice acting that was present in a portable game; it’s all over the place! While Aveline and most of her support cast are spot on with their accents and dialog, you will hear something that basically sounds like nails on a chalkboard. Making those specific people’s voices worse is that you have to hear them a decent amount.

Online/Multiplayer:
The online portion of AC III Liberation was removed from the HD version of the game.

Conclusion:
When I first heard that Ubisoft was bringing one of the best titles on the PlayStation Vita to the home consoles, I have to admit I was a little worried. Yes, on the PlayStation Vita, Assassin’s Creed III Liberation was a great title, but how would it fare on a more powerful system?

Apparently, it fares rather well. As one of the best lead characters in the Assassin’s Creed series, playing as Aveline is a blast. While you can see on occasion the limits of the PlayStation Vita engine used; the game runs great and looks beautiful. Though it is a little disappointing to see the same issues that the PlayStation Vita version of the game had have gone unfixed.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

Written by Kyle Jessee

Kyle Jessee

Your lone Kentucky writer on staff. Loves the Big Blue Nation, rock music, and Resistance 2 (the best in the series).

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