Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD Review
You don’t need to hire a crack team of statisticians to know that handheld-to-console ports are less common than the opposite route.
Given a greater tendency towards bite-sized gameplay and portable-specific control schemes, bringing the small screen experience to the significantly expanded boundaries of a television is no easy task. At least, it’s not an easy one to get right.
And yet, while not without its problems, Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD is a decent attempt at bringing the 2012 PS Vita release to the big screen.
Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD Review – Console vs Vita
We’ll start with the technical perspective, as that is sure to be on your mind given the nature of this release. In short, technically, it works.
Given that the original made minimal use of the handheld’s supplementary inputs (touch screens, camera, gyroscopic motion etc) there’s little that has had to be done to make the game fully-functional with a control pad.
In fact, given the bigger analogue sticks at your disposal, it’s easy to argue that movement and interaction is improved in this edition.
Those of you with experience of recent Assassin’s Creed releases will find little to quibble about in relation to the mechanics of being protagonist Aveline de Grandpre, and that is no small victory for Ubisoft given the horrific state some ports find themselves in upon release.
Visually, too, things have seen improvement. While it would be a stretch to say that Liberation HD is the equal of Assassin’s Creed 3 and 4, it doesn’t look wildly out of place among such company.
Textures, and in particular character models, have been redrawn in many instances and are instantly recognisable as an upgrade if you’re familiar with the original Vita edition.
However, this attention to detail doesn’t apply to the whole game for some reason; some areas looking as though they have been left untouched, breaking that sense of immersion and reminding you of the origins of what you’re playing.
For the most, though, the technical side of affairs is impressive and thankfully bares few signs of a rushed job.
Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD Review – Underdeveloped Point-Of-View
On the flip side, the game itself would have been improved if some fundamentals had been changed.
The setting of 18th century New Orleans is engaging and interesting, combining the excitement of a population coming to understand a new frontier of life in America with the desolation and bleak realities of slavery.
There’s no doubt that this is one of the more interesting backdrops the Assassin’s Creed series has so far to provide, but the eyes through which it is viewed fail to capture its potential.
Aveline is a protagonist of significance on paper (a mixed-race, female assassin living in a world of racial bigotry and sexism), but she’s let down by the lack of detail to her character.
While her actions speak of someone with a vested interest in the revolution and complexities of the social and political structures of the era, her motivations and personal history are not examined fully enough for you to genuinely care about her role within it all. As a result she feels hollow and comes across as a mere plot device through which events can unfold.
This, of course, may be the point – the writers deciding that the events of the time are better shown without subjective bias – but there’s no denying that she fails to live up to her billing as a person of intrigue. Niggling issues also arise from the mission structure, specifically in that there’s not enough variety and the bulk of missions are short; although, this is hardly a surprise given its handheld origins.
Aveline is able to switch costumes and present a different persona to the world, a gameplay mechanic that works fairly well but fails to fully deliver as a core way of influencing how you play the game. In slave guise, for example, it becomes harder for guards to spot you, while as a lady in full-flowing dress your notoriety level is reduced.
Her ability to switch costume is a microcosm of the game in general – nice ideas that are never taken full advantage of.
If you’ve played the original Vita version, there’s no reason for you to take the plunge again.
If you’ve not played the original, only the most diehard of Assassin’s Creed fans are going to find something of value.
Version Tested: PS3