Assassin’s Creed Retrospective: Liberation
By Kimberly Kuxhause
Assassin’s Creed Liberation is a tricky game to review, for though it was released on the major consoles, it had originally been tailored for the PS Vita system, making the nature of its plot and gameplay a little more structured than the main titles in the series. As a smaller title, it did not have a physical disc version unless you purchased the Assassin’s Creed America’s Collection like I did. All things considered, I like to think of the game as a bonus to Assassin’s Creed and not a major stand-alone title. Let me explain why.
The gameplay within Liberation is understandably short and predictable. If you’re playing on the go, you need to be able to jump in and out of a mission at a moment’s notice. Liberation excels at these mini-quests, which ultimately remind me of the information quests available from AC I. The game still displays the assassination style and climbing abilities often associated with the franchise, but with a slight twist. The player can switch between a few character options, a slave, a noble woman, and an assassin, giving the game varieties of missions to explore and making gameplay harder or easier depending on that persona. For the most part, fighting, interacting, and other aspects of the game are borrowed from AC III so it’s relatively easy to get the knack of what’s happening. There are a few bugs of course, eagle vision and blow darts work slightly differently than expected and many of the missions seem to force the player into one solution, but noting the original format of the game these downfalls are to be expected.
In typical Ubisoft style the narration is impressive – if one accounts for the brevity of the game. We receive a story similar to that of Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, that is, you are video game player exploring an Abstergo product. However, within this overarching theme, we understand that Abstergo has tampered with the game’s data. Through brief interruptions, the player begins to see what really happened before the tampering occurred. So while there isn’t much interacting with the outside world, an inclusion I typically enjoy, we do still see how the game fits within the AC narrative built thus far.
Within the game, the first female assassin, Aveline de Grandpré, is introduced. Here we find even more similarities with the first Assassin’s Creed game. Aveline discovers corruption and Templar influence within her town and she rises to the occasion to halt their attempts in multiple tiny missions. Of course the narrative is filled with all the twists and turns you’d expect, with a dash of surprise Templar agents and familial betrayal thrown into the mix. More information about the First Civilization is gleaned, though none of it has any immediate effect on the franchise as a whole. Ultimately, the narration, like the gameplay, is slightly predictable only because shorter missions require it to be so. It’s difficult to cultivate an intricate storyline while also allowing players to briefly engage with the game. My main caveat would be that as the first female assassin, I wish Aveline would have received a more substantial story, but I’m happy that at least it was available.
Liberation isn’t amazing. I’ll admit that. But as a mobile game turned console, it still exceeds expectations by exploring new disguise possibilities and providing a solid framework for mobile users to enjoy an Assassin’s Creed game. I find it’s worth playing if I want to explore an AC game for a quick hour or two without much thought. The controls are easily adapted to, being borrowed from AC III, and the storyline fits within the overall theme of the series. Had it remained a PS Vita game, I doubt I would’ve had the opportunity to play it, but I wouldn’t have been heartbroken either. In the end, it’s a great example of the solid foundations we’ve come to find in Assassin’s Creed games, and to that I’ll raise a glass.