Let me just get all the bad things out of the way to start: Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is a mess in some ways. It’s glitchy at times, particularly with regards to character animations, the enemy AI can be as dumb as toast at times, the plot is all over the place, and – for a series where you normally have a great deal of freedom in how you accomplish goals – you are far too often forced into doing things This One Way.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the tacked-on touch controls and the “hold your Vita to the light and rotate it to solve this puzzle” bits.
However, after playing ACIII, it’s obvious that the Liberation team had a much better idea about what constitutes FUN.
Fun is… running across rooftops, past guards who are barely able to get out a “hey…” as you dash past, jump to a lightpost, and then continue on to the next building, leaving them trailing impotently in your wake.
Fun is… walking into a fancy dress ball in a glamorous evening gown, luring your intended victim off to the side with feminine charm, and making with the stabby stabby while the banal small talk of the party continues around you.
Fun is… stalking a column of soldiers from the trees, downing one at a time with darts from your blowgun, driving the survivors into a higher and higher panic all the while, then jumping down and taking the last half dozen on face-to-face.
Actually, I’m not sure whether I enjoyed the blowgun more or the bullwhip. Both are new to this installment of the series, I believe, and both are terribly fun. The bullwhip, in particular, breaks the somewhat tedious counter-based combat by letting you yank opponents off balance, drag them towards you, and hit them with an axe as they pass.
Fun is NOT an endless supply of near-psychic guards and sticking to the ground floor, as it were, just because climbing into the rooftops in Boston or New York almost always meant interminable escape sequences.
Put simply, I’m glad that I played the two games in the order I did. I was able to grit my teeth and get through ACIII because I was invested in the Desmond story and wanted to see how it played out, but I might have had a hard time putting up with it if I had played Liberation first.
If you played ACIII and loved the homesteading and hunting and trading parts, mind you, you might have exactly the opposite opinion. 🙂
All that said, it doesn’t add a whole bunch to the Assassin’s Creed canon, which is good considering how few Vita there are out there compared to consoles that can play the main series entries, but it was nice to see that there ARE some assassins out there who aren’t related to Desmond bloody Miles and the story went into some pretty heavy hitting themes.
…and I don’t even have to add “for a video game” to that last sentence.