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Initially I was unsure how well an Assassin’s Creed game would work on a handheld. Previous attempts created rather soulless entries that failed to capture the true joy of the series. NPC’s were sparse, textures were poor, and although they played out in a similar fashion, both the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP couldn’t provide the power and interface to let Ubisoft craft a brilliant game.
Thankfully, the PS Vita has everything in the right place and so Assassin’s Creed III Liberation has the potential to deliver the home console experience on the go as Sony promised their hardware would.
Set in the mid 1700s in the southern provinces of North America, you take on the role of female assassin Ariana and her push back against the Spanish troops who are vying for control of the land. The demo shown at Gamescom allowed for two missions to be played: “A Faithful Accolade” and “Rotten Barracks”. The first demo level took place in the Louisiana Bayou and really showed off how traversing the wilderness will be handled – and saw Ariana seeing out a hidden letter for her friend. The second mission showed how cities and towns would be built and populated and saw Adriana take out the military recruiter in the town.
Both missions looked incredibly impressive; although they felt more like side-quest missions from Assassin’s Creed III than complete levels. This is probably due to a lack of free-form exploration in the demo build. If you had the chance to explore towns with the freedom seen in console entries then this would feel much more comfortable in the hands of an experienced Assassin’s Creed Player.
It’s surprising just how impressive Liberation looks, it could easily be compared to the original Assassin’s Creed title and it looks an absolute treat as a PS Vita title. Towns are populated with NPC’s on corners and down streets; parkour across rooftops or through the trees is a joy, and performing hidden blade assassinations is just as gratifying as it is on the big screen. The only drawback is that the action can sometimes be too intense for a handheld title, making the PS Vita’s 5” screen feel cluttered.
A demo isn’t the best representation of the finished article. It’s likely the game won’t revolve around a mission-by-mission structure and should instead have a little more freedom to explore upon its final release. For now though it’s evident that Ubisoft know what they’re doing with the Assassin’s Creed franchise on the PS Vita.