Assassin’s Creed® Liberation HD
Gameplay 6
Graphics 7
Sound 7

Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD is a nice step up from the Playstation Vita original, but its portable roots still hold it back from the depth found in the main series. The updated visuals look good, but Aveline’s adventures feel a lot more confined compared to the rest of her Assassins brethren. Still, the game does have some nice touches and the parkour elements are as fun as always.

Gameplay: Stripped back compared to the main titles, but there is still fun to be had.

Graphics: The updated visuals are a big improvement over the original game, but not without flaws.

Sound: Good music and sound effects, but some of the voice acting could have been better

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Assassin’s Creed® Liberation HD

Developer: Ubisoft Sofia | Publisher: Ubisoft | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: 3rd Person / Adventure / Action | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Originally released on the Playstation Vita, Assassin’s Creed Liberation was supposed to be a showcase for the then-new Sony handheld. Unfortunately, in comparison to Assassin’s Creed 3, which was released at the same time on consoles, it was very obvious that the Vita had a lot of limitations. It was still an impressive attempt at delivering a full-fledged Assassin’s Creed experience on a handheld, though, and must have done well enough to justify this HD remake.

For those not familiar with the Vita original, Assassin’s Creed Liberation is part of the same pre-American Revolution saga as Assassin’s Creed 3. The protagonist is Aveline de Grandpré, a young woman of French and African descent. Liberation opens with a tutorial that shows Aveline getting separated from her mother and afterward the story cuts to her as an adult assassin living with her father and stepmother who appear to be unaware of her clandestine hobby. As with other titles in the series, it seems that the Templar’s are up to no good again and it is up to Aveline to thwart their attempts at trying to gain control of New Orleans. While the premise is unique enough the story is actually one of the weakest elements of the game. It could be due to the portable origins of the game, but it just feels like the story jumps around too much and a lot of what happens is neither particularly interesting nor very important in the grand scheme of things.

Thankfully, when it comes to gameplay, Ubisoft has attempted to flesh the game out a little bit more compared to the Vita version. The biggest upgrades are visual as the game now sports high-dynamic-range rendering as well as better looking environments and characters. The draw distance could still have used some work, though, as NPCs can still pop in from nowhere at times. Speaking of NPCs, while the crowd density has been much improved compared to the deserted streets of the Vita version, it is still quite low compared to other titles in the series. At least the frame rate is much better and the new lighting system makes a huge difference in how the game looks. Even with the improved textures, it’s still clear to see that the game wasn’t designed from the ground up for consoles and PC, but overall there are enough new visual elements to justify the HD tag in the title.

Liberation is set alongside the events of Assassin’s Creed 3, but Avaline’s adventures are a lot more restricted than that of Connor. Most of the game takes place within New Orleans along with a few trips to the surrounding bayou. You do, however, get to make a short detour to a Templar worksite in Mexico and visit a snowy fort late in the game. Ubisoft has wisely decided to remove the lackluster multiplayer elements from the game, but there’s still enough collectibles to find and side quests to complete that completionist will be busy for a long time.

The main storyline for Liberation is quite short and straightforward, but the inclusion of “special” assassinations to uncover more of the story is a nice touch. The Abstergo elements of the series are kept to a minimum and instead, the game is presented as an entertainment product by the company. Of course, this means that the Templers are portrayed in a more sympathetic light, but with the help of a hacker group, players can witness things that Abstergo has tried to hide. These sections basically amount to using your eagle vision to spot a specially marked target and killing them to witness an extended cut-scene that portrays some plot elements in a new light. It’s a decent concept, but as we mentioned already the story is a bit lackluster so these new revelations are hardly jaw-dropping.

The game plays pretty much like a standard Assassin’s Creed title, so you have to engage in actions such as following targets without them spotting you, infiltrating guarded areas, and killing targets. It’s a bit more stripped down than other Assassin’s Creed games, though, and missions can typically be completed very quickly. A very forgiving checkpoint system also makes Liberation one of the easiest entries in the series. Each mission does come with a couple of secondary objectives, which makes things a little trickier. These are not necessary to complete the mission, but must be adhered to if you want the coveted “100% synchronization” for the sequence.

One of the new elements introduced by Liberation is that Avaline can assume different personas. Her standard assassin persona gives her access to all her weapons, skills, and parkour abilities, but also causes her to become notorious much faster. Donning her slave persona allows Avaline to blend in better, which is great for infiltrating guarded areas, but makes her weaker in combat. Finally, her privileged upbringing has granted her the ability to assume her “Lady” persona, which strips her of all her parkour abilities, but allows her to charm guards away from their posts. It’s a hassle to swap between these personas, though, as you can only do so at specially marked locations. The game also has a habit of forcing you to do certain missions with a specific persona, which strips you of your freedom to try and figure out what approach would be best. Each persona has its own notoriety bar and you’ll have to perform actions such as bribing corrupt magistrates, tear down wanted posters or kill witnesses to decrease these.

When Aveline is not busy rooting out Templers there’s a whole host of other activities to keep her busy. You can pickpocket people for more cash, purchase shops, assassinate rival shop owners and then take over their businesses, and even set up trade routes with ships. The usual assortment of collectibles, which in this game ranges from diary pages to crocodile eggs is also available for players to seek out.

The music was re-mastered for this HD upgrade of the game and all-new sound effects were added. The audio sounds good and the main cast does a pretty good job in regards to voice acting. However, some of the French and Spanish accents sound unintentionally comical. We played the game with a controller, which worked fine as all the touchscreen elements of the Vita version has been removed. The free-run system looks great when it works, but we still experienced the occasional freak-out where Aveline would hurl herself off a rooftop or try to run up an unclimbable wall while trying to turn a corner. The guards in the game also appear to have an issue with pathfinding as they frequently got stuck behind objects while chasing us and the less said about some of the weird ragdoll moments the better. Combat will feel instantly familiar to fans of the series and follows the same block, disarm, kill pattern as the other titles. There is also a chain kill feature where you can pause the action, highlight a few targets, and then watch Aveline dispose of them in cinematic fashion. The inclusion of a blowpipe for taking down enemies stealthily or driving them mad so that they can turn on each other is also neat.

While Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD is not a bad game, it’s clearly not up to par compared to the rest of the series. It suffers from pacing issues and even the inclusion of some new side missions can’t hide the portable roots of the game. It’s definitely a title that Assassin’s Creed completionists will want to experience, if only for the first playable female protagonist in the series. Players in search of the Assassin’s Creed experience, but without the free time for the more sprawling entries in the series might also enjoy this title. However, anyone expecting the same depth and polish as the main titles in the series will be disappointed with Liberation HD.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8 / 8.1 (both 32/64bit versions)
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 2105 @ 3.1 GHz or AMD Phenom 2 X4 955 @ 3.2GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 8800GT or AMD Radeon HD4870 (512MB VRAM & Shader Model 4.0)
  • Storage: 3500 MB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card with latest drivers
  • Additional Notes: Supported video cards at time of release: Nvidia GeForce 8800GT or better, GeForce 9, GTX 200, GTX 400, GTX 500, GTX 600, GTX 700 series. AMD Radeon HD4870 or better, HD5000, HD6000, HD7000, R7 and R9 series. Note: Latest GeForce drivers tested: 331.65 for all series. Latest Radeon drivers tested: 13.9 Legacy for Radeon HD4870 and Windows Vista, 13.9 for Radeon HD5000 and above. Laptop versions of these cards may work but are NOT officially supported.
  • OS: Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8 / 8.1 (both 32/64bit versions)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 2400S @ 2.5 GHz or AMD FX 4100 @ 3,6 GHz or better
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 or AMD Radeon HD7870 (1250MB VRAM & Shader Model 5.0) or better
  • Storage: 3500 MB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card with latest drivers
  • Additional Notes: Supported video cards at time of release: Nvidia GeForce 8800GT or better, GeForce 9, GTX 200, GTX 400, GTX 500, GTX 600, GTX 700 series. AMD Radeon HD4870 or better, HD5000, HD6000, HD7000, R7 and R9 series. Note: Latest GeForce drivers tested: 331.65 for all series. Latest Radeon drivers tested: 13.9 Legacy for Radeon HD4870 and Windows Vista, 13.9 for Radeon HD5000 and above. Laptop versions of these cards may work but are NOT officially supported.

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