Assassin's Creed Liberation HD is a fun and very enjoyable experience that has the cojones to stand tall in the Assassin's Creed series
Before I start with this review I want to say that I have not played the PS Vita version, so don't expect comparisons between the two versions. And with that out of the way, let's start off the review.
Assassin's Creed Liberation HD is a fun and very enjoyable experience that has the cojones to stand tall in the Assassin's Creed series. Now I have been reading a lot of articles saying that Liberation HD is a big step down from Black Flag or ACIII, that is riddled with glitches, it looks really sh*tty and other bullsh*t like that and all I am going to say is that these people are dead wrong.
Yes the game does not have the excellent naval combat and big world of Black Flag and yes it does not have the beautiful next-gen graphics and level of details Black Flag on PS4/Xone/PC has, but does that automatically make it a bad game like many out there are saying? Of course not! You can't compare the two games, cause it doesn't make any sense, at least to me. One is an insanely big budget project and the other one is way smaller which feels more like a passion project and the result is great.
Assassin's Creed Liberation HD is set between 1765 and 177 and features the series first female protagonist, Aveline de Grandpre, an African-French assassin around the end of the French and Indian War, in 18th century New Orleans. Aveline is a very likable character, she is a young idealistic assassin that fights for justice and freedom even if the choices she makes defy the "desires" of the Creed itself. As always the war between Assassins and Templars runs in the background and as always the events or better say the story will not make any sense until the end where mostly everything is explained with a couple of "important" details left out just to get thinking...
It's, as I said, a really intriguing story filled with conspiracies and twists that you might not see coming that also touches themes like slavery, revolution and such. What is even more interesting is the whole Abstergo Entertainment manipulation deal. In the past AC games present day assassins used the Animus to access their ancestors memories to find and learn things that might help them in the present. That has changed, as we also saw in Black Flag, the Animus tech is no more a secret, instead it is a console where everyone could access everyone's past, sure heavily redacted versions of them. And these redactions or manipulations are visible throughout Aveline's story where first you see the redacted version which usually is in the Templars favor and then you see the true version of what and how it happened. That is fantastic to see and perfectly suits the whole "Nothing is true, Everything is permitted" tagline.
In terms of gameplay, you've probably seen everything before. Aveline can climb, jump and parkour her way through the environments much like every other assassin in the past. She sports a machete as her main weapon, but also has swords, a blowpipe, dual pistols, smoke bombs and a whip which works like the rope dart and also you can go full Indiana Jones using it to jump over big gaps. Combat is as good (or bad) as the previous games, where the enemies are still dumb enough to attack one at a time and you can pretty much wreck everyone with the whole killstreak system.
Missions are, again, what we have already seen or played in the past. Go there and kill him or collect that, tail him and then kill him, protect them for X minutes etc. Side missions follow the same path, collect X number of these, assassinate him or her, race through checkpoints etc. What is new is the whole three persona mechanic. Aveline can dress the assassin outfit having all her abilities and weapons available to use, but she will be always on a notoriety level and the guards will attack her. But she can also dress as a slave and while she retains the parkour abilities, she has a limited arsenal in terms of weapons, but she also can access areas easily blending in with the other slaves. The third persona is the Lady one, where you are striped of the parkour and every weapon apart from the hidden blades, but you can go anywhere without being disturbed as you have the ability to charm the guards. Now this whole persona system kinda works and it is very interesting as it creates the sense of sandbox as there are different ways to engage a mission, but it is not utilized to its full potential. I wish that the areas you have to access during the missions had many different entry points or something like that. There is also a trading metagame much like the one in ACIII, but it is so slow and so boring that is not even worth mentioning.
Environments are relatively big and really well designed, especially New Orleans and the Mayan site. New Orleans looks great and the way they designed it makes it extremely parkour-friendly. You can climb on the characteristic balconies, jump across rooftops and run through the trees pretty much anywhere in the map. The Mayan site also looks gorgeous and it is also parkour-friendly with big rocks to jump from and to, a large pyramid to climb and a large number of bushes and hay-bales to hide and assassinate the enemies. The swamp or the bayou is well, the sh*ttiest environment of the whole game. It is really big and the level design sucks! Traversing it on foot or by using the canoe is a pain. Many paths are blocked by stupidly placed invisible walls that in a game which is highly focused in parkour just doesn't make any fricking sense and ruin the whole experience. And the big/mini maps of the area are just plain useless as you don't really understand what is land and what is water. Another thing that I hated about the maps is that the collectibles and hidden chests are hidden or appear and disappear randomly. Most of the fun, at least for me, in an Assassin's Creed game is achieving 100% by collecting everything and I have to say that this is the first game in the series I didn't feel the need to do it.
Presentation wise, the game looks and runs really good. It looks gorgeous on a big HDTV, with beautiful textures and great lighting effects. The frame rate is consistent running at 30fps and it does not stutter like the PS3 version of Black Flag. The body animations look really good, but the face ones are bad if compared to the other more recent AC games. The OST, sound effects and VA is fantastic so no surprise there.
As I stated in the beginning, Assassin's Creed Liberation HD stands tall and looks fantastic on the big screen. Aveline is a very strong yet innocent like character and I want to see her come back... in a few years that be. The story is interesting and the whole false/true manipulations and twists done by Abstergo are very intriguing to see. Gameplay is a "been here, done that" experience that has all the goods and bads of every AC game; glitches, bugs, stupid AI, everything returns. But it doesn't really matter as when everything is summed up, the game is a very strong package with a ton of content that will keep you entertained and frustrate a little bit for 20+ hours.