This will be a slightly different game review because I’ll be talking about 2 different versions of the same game, as well as a game that is connected to it. In this case, it will be Assassin’s Creed 3 for the Playstation 3 (and X-Box 360), and both the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita versions of the series spin-off game known as Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation (or Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD on the PS3).
Both games were released on the same day (Liberation HD came out years later). Both involve the Assassin’s Creed series taking place during the childhood of the United States of America, and they focus on 2 different aspects of the country’s history. Much like the entire Assassin’s Creed series, the war between the Assassins and the Templars continues. The Assassins (or at least the ones in the know) try to hide “The Apple” (an artefact that belonged an ancient race) and any other piece of forbidden knowledge, that basically gives man the power of a God, and the ability to rule the world. The Templars are interested in finding the apple and this knowledge, and are looking to take over. This game of Squirrel vs Squirrel is what drives the plots of both stories forward. But for now, we’ll now discuss each game and break down their characteristics.
ASSASSIN’S CREED 3
AC3 focuses on the American Revolution in the North Eastern USA, which allows you to explore New York, Philadelphia and Boston, along with the surrounding forests, and also provides a conclusion to the Desmond Miles story (An ongoing story throughout the series that shows where the Assassins/Templar war is at in today’s society. For those who are wondering, we go back to these time periods looking for information about the apple in the memories of Desmond’s Ancestors. It’s like Inception, if you have ever seen that film). The story focuses on a father, Haytham Kenway, and his son, Ratonhnhaké:ton (also known as Connor), both are Desmond’s ancestors. Kenway is your main character for roughly the first third of the game, and he portrays some similar characteristics that made Ezio the most likeable Assassin in the series. However, while you thought you were playing an Assassin, you realise that you were actually playing a Templar, and Kenway happens to be seen as a primary antagonist for the rest of the game. His son, Connor, like Altair in Assassin’s Creed 1, is of mixed race; half British and half Native American. Making him an outsider and not seen as 1 who is bias…as long as he knows or thinks he knows the truth. His goal is to rescue his mother’s tribe and their land by eliminating the Templar influence on the North Eastern parts of the USA (since they burned down the village) and siding with George Washington in order to fight the english (even though it’s basically english and french fighting english and french, the game points that out), this includes getting answers from his Templar Father, as well as eliminating him and his comrades, including Charles Lee. Much like how eliminating the Templar Influence has become a similar formula as saving the princess (Super Mario) or the world (Legend Of Zelda), Assassin’s Creed 3 provided the series with a unique story that once again places emphasis on the great grey area that the Assassins/Templar war actually has. Some of your targets actually had good intentions, even if others were in fact small-minded or terrible people. Further thickening the series’ world, and making our heroes question their own motives.
The graphics remained at a very high tier, particularly when it came out in 2012 (with Desmond’s story jumping the bandwagon of the 21st December 2012 apocalypse. A nice touch that may have accidentally dated the game). The presentation of Baby America was very nicely done, and I particularly like how it looked in winter. But unfortunately, unlike the Italian Renaissance and even the Middle East during the crusades, American architecture of the day was definitely more about utility rather than beauty (in other words, it’s not eye-candy or awe-inspiring, but people live there and it’s home).
The game’s controls were also a step-up in the series, which now features the ability to captain your own ship on a regular basis, and have tree-climbing/running as an extra means of getting around. While these new controls can be a bit fiddly at the beginning, you do get used to them. Along your journey, you can also help individuals. Some may join your makeshift village, providing you with things to buy, sell and craft other items with. Others may want to join the fight, and become Assassins that either aid you in battle, or go on missions to other parts of America, where they can bring in extra money and items. As good as this system is, I still think AC Brotherhood did it best (and it was the first game to introduce it!)
The gameplay itself, side-missions and so on, provides the gamer with many hours of things to do. But at the same time, it feels like the map is too vast and the amount of things to do can be exhausting, to the point that it feels a bit cluttered and not very useful.
The characters in Assassin’s Creed 3 were pretty good when the game focused on Haytham. I wouldn’t have minded if the game was all about him. But unfortunately it wasn’t. It was already advertised heavily that our main character is Connor, who, for an Assassin, is very focused and single-minded. To say the least, he’s a boring person. Not a hair of humour on this man’s head, unless his goal to save his mother’s people and create an America like the 1 on paper falls under the humour equals humanity label. He’s a good guy, with good intention. But oh my…he needs to learn how to crack a joke. But I guess we need a variety of Assassins like a variety of different people.
The music was great, but not quite as memorable as other instalments.
ASSASSIN’S CREED 3: LIBERATION
Liberation focuses on New Orleans, Louisiana, as well as the Bayou and Mexico near the end of the French & Indian War. Our hero is the first female Assassin in the series, Aveline de Grandpré, a half French and half African woman who is seen as an aristocrat in public, but also disguises herself as a slave (since she takes more after her mother) and is obviously an Assassin. This is the first Assassin’s Creed game I’ve played that doesn’t have Desmond Miles in it. However, there is a ‘bigger picture’ storyline aspect in which it is clear that some scenes have been edited by the Templars, taking out any reference to their involvement in terrible acts. Uncut versions of these scenes can be restored by killing off a NPC within a certain area called Citizen E, who appears 6 times as a bug, sometimes in the story, other times you have to find him after you reach a certain part of the story. Killing every citizen E reveals the true ending of the game.
Compared to Assassin’s Creed 3, Liberation did a much better job in the Story and Character department, and it also had a lighter tone with a more whimsical soundtrack. Aveline has since become 1 of my favourite Assassins in the series, and she’s definitely up there with Ezio. Unlike Connor, Aveline is witty, sarcastic, bright, pretty, and can play a good harpsichord. She cares for the poor and the slaves while also using her social status (aristocrat), and looks (aristocrat and slave) to her advantage through various disguises. As for the side characters? I love Elise and Roussillon, the 2 french smugglers who work in the Bayou. Fantastic chemistry, sarcasm and humour for those 2 characters, and they bounce off Aveline as well. I hope to see more of them somehow.
COMPARING 3 & LIBERATION
AC3 overall has much better and smoother controls, a bigger environment to explore, and better graphics, which come from it being a bigger game. There is also more to do, even if it’s filler.
Liberation has a much better and more interesting main protagonist, more interesting backdrop, more interesting supporting characters, better music and, for me, a better story.
COMPARING VITA LIBERATION and LIBERATION HD
Liberation on the Vita looks fantastic. The gameplay is also fuller in some missions than HD. It also features gameplay elements that fully utilise the Vita’s range. However, the control were you have to shine the back of your Vita with a bright light can be very irritating if you’re playing the game on a cloudy day.
Liberation on the PS3 (HD) looks okay, considering the game is about 2GB in size. It might look better than Assassin’s Creed 1, but maybe not Assassin’s Creed 2 and definitely not Brotherhood. It can also be a bit buggy, more-so than the Vita version. The controls are adjusted to be more familiar for PS3 users, however the Vita mini-games have been taken out. Compared the the Vita version, the game is also a lot easier (with the exception of ‘boss battles’, which are harder). Some missions have been cut down significantly, while others have been lengthened, creating a slightly different gaming experience. Some cut-scenes also use very different cinematography, sometimes looking better, other times worse.
If you don’t have a Playstation Vita or don’t want a Vita, but like the AC Series, then obviously get Liberation HD, even if I don’t think it does the gameplay experience as much justice. If you have both, I would suggest the Vita for the better quality game, but Liberation HD if you just want to stick to more familiar controls or just want the story without the challenge. Either 1 is fine.
Assassin’s Creed 3: ****1/4 out of 5 (***3/4 for the story, ***1/2 for characters)
Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation: ***1/2 out of 5 (****1/2 for the story, ****3/4 for characters)
Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD: ***1/4 out of 5 (Again ****1/2 story, ****3/4 characters)