Assassins Creed III: Liberation – The Quitting Point

While I do miss the money I was paid to review games, meager though it may have been, what I do not miss is that awful feeling I would get in my stomach when I knew that I flat out did not like the game I was playing, yet there was still a dozen hours left before I could put the thing to bed. Luckily, this is not a problem here at NHS. If I’m not feeling a game, I stop playing it and move on to other things. I figure that my reasons as to why I stopped playing will be just as useful to our readers as a full blown review, only in this case, I don’t have to waste my time playing something I think sucks.

Which brings me to Assassins Creed III: Liberation. Granted, I don’t think the game sucks, that’s a bit harsh, but I certainly don’t want to play it any more, so I’m not going to. Before we get to why I don’t want to play it again, I can’t stress enough that this is not a review of the game. I’ve put about six hours into the thing and I have no idea what percentage that is, but I do know that I didn’t finish it, hence this is not a review.

So, what exactly were my problems with the game?

The Story

I have no idea what’s going on in this story, and that’s probably my fault for not paying enough attention. Aveline is an assassin, although how she came to be one, I have no idea. Her mom was a privileged slave, so Aveline can mix it up both with the hoi polloi of 18th century New Orleans as well as the slaves and common people. At some point, Aveline’s mom disappeared and while my understanding is that Aveline starts to uncover the reasons behind this disappearance as the game goes on, my time with the game focused more on missing slaves and false holy men. Occasionally I’d help a slave get some of his stuff back, sometimes I’d mess with rival businesses that were threatening my livelihood, but whenever I was in a story mission, I had very little understanding, or interest, in what was going on.

On a similar note, the Templars’ role in the story’s events aren’t made clear, which is somewhat by design. The game was created by Abstergo, undoubtedly as a piece of Templar propaganda, and at times you can assassinate Citizen E,  a hacker who placed versions of himself into the game so that the player can see the events as they truly unfolded. Killing Citizen E after a story assassination allows you to see a different cut scene and unlock the “true” ending if you manage to find and kill all instances of Citizen E. While I like the idea, in practice it didn’t work all that well. The change to the cut scene I saw didn’t seem all that different and worse, after every mission I was looking around for Citizen E, afraid I was missing out on the truth. It kind of takes away from the narrative when the player is more focused on what may happen after you’re done telling the story, rather than what is happening while your’e telling the story.

One of the best things about Assassins Creed 2 was Ezio and my fondness for the character is what kept me going through Brotherhood and until the end of Revelations. I have no affinity for Aveline whatsoever. I don’t know why she’s an assassin or what she’s trying to do against the Templars nor do I care if she’s successful or not.

The Environments

Roaming around in the city is typical AC style climbing and jumping. No real problems here other than the developer’s penchant for making every single objective as far away from your current location as humanly possible and not including any means of fast travel. In the bayou, it’s another story. The same far flung mission objectives exist, only here, if you fall off of a tree, and you will fall off of trees, you can’t climb back up the tree and keep on going. Your choice is to either swim back to where you can climb a tree or swim to your destination. I usually chose the latter. On a similar note, climbing trees to get to sync points in the bayou is an exercise in frustration. One misstep, of which there are many, and you’re back in fetid swamp water, wishing for a gator to put you out of your misery. After four AC games, I’m used to my assassin deciding to hurl himself out into midair rather than jump straight up to the next ledge, but at least in the city, I can just start the climb over again from street level. Having to backtrack through the swamp to find the right place to climb a tree is annoying. I hope that the forest traversal is better in Assassins Creed III or I’ll end up throwing the disc out the window, General Lee style.

The Personas

As I mentioned before, Aveline exists in three different worlds: as a slave, as an assassin and as a lady. Aveline can switch between the three personas as needed, or as required, and depending on which persona you’re in, your options and how you deal with notoriety are affected. As an assassin, you can climb and jump and do the usual assassin things, but the only way to lower your notoriety is to bribe officials, and unlike in previous AC games, officials are few and far between. As a slave, you can still climb and you can use a machete and your wrist blades, as well as some firearms. You lower the slave’s notoriety by tearing down posters, of which, thankfully, there are many. As the lady, you can’t climb and you won’t survive very long in a fight, but you can walk up to witnesses and kill them, pretty much unseen, thereby lowering your level of notoriety.

I understand what the developers were going for here, and sometimes it works, but most of my time spent as the lady was wondering why they thought it was a good idea to have an AC game where I can’t run and jump. That’s when I wasn’t having flashbacks to playing as 80 year old Altair in AC:Revelations. I can certainly understand the appeal of switching into alternate personas to help lower the heat when one persona gets to be too well known, but the options for lowering notoriety were so limited for the assassin, it wasn’t before long when I had to switch back any way and I’d end up being spotted. I know that what they were going for was to show how Aveline exists in different worlds, but mostly it was just annoying to walk at a snail’s pace in a fancy dress and get roughed up by street thugs.

The Logic

The AC games have always preferred to put logic on the back burner, but Liberation seems to take it to new, silly heights. Sure, it was always dumb that Ezio could walk around in full assassin gear, bristling with cutlery, and no one would notice, but rather than fix that in Liberation, they instead came up with their own logical missteps. As a slave, as soon as I climb up on a roof, my notoriety goes up by 1/4 the circle. Ok, I guess the New Orleans Safety Patrol is very concerned with people climbing on roofs, so they want me captured so that I can be spoken to sternly. Ripping the wanted poster down though, in full view of everyone, causes no such raise in notoriety. Again, I know this is carried over from other AC games, but it was stupid there too. Similarly, as a lady, I can walk up to a witness, who is always accompanied by two other man, stab them in broad daylight and then just walk away. The witness falls down dead and the two companions go about their day as if nothing happened. Worse, if I loop around the block, the witness will show up in the exact same place, ready to be killed again for my notoriety reducing purposes. I know that Aveline is dressed nicely, but I have to think that if a black woman stumbled into a white man in 18th century New Orleans, they wouldn’t just brush it off as nothing, especially if the guy falls down dead in front of two other people. The end result of both of these methods of reducing notoriety is that losing notoriety becomes busy work with no consequences for your actions. As long as your notoriety doesn’t go in the red, the only thing you lose is time spent not doing story missions in an effort to become less wanted. It also begs the question why I don’t just kill everyone as the lady, seeing how she could slaughter a bus load of nuns in the town square and no one would bat an eye.

The Glitches

From floating alligators to custom map markers that show up out of nowhere to rooftop guards that don’t react to you and can’t be killed, the game is filled with all sorts of bugs and glitches. Some of them are funny, some of them are annoying, many of them simply should not be there and probably would not have been had the game not had its release tied to ACIII. I can certainly forgive a certain number of bugs, but when I access the pigeon coop for the first time and it results in Aveline reading a letter while floating ten feet off of the ground, you can’t help but have the immersion completely destroyed.

It’s possible that the story gets better and Aveline becomes more interesting and you eventually get a jetski that lets you traverse the bayou more quickly, but I’m not sticking around to find out. I have too many other games I want to try out to spend more time with Aveline. It’s a shame, because I was looking forward to this one. I’d say that maybe they can fix things in the sequel, but I don’t see the Vita being a viable platform by the time that Assassins Creed III-2 comes out, so I”m pretty sure this will be Aveline’s only outing on this console. C’est la vie, Aveline. C’est la vie.

11 Responses to “Assassins Creed III: Liberation – The Quitting Point”

  1. GreyGoomba November 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I’m really enjoying the game. This is the first time an Assassin’s Creed game got me caring about anything going on in the story, which is funny since the story in this game is so hit-and-miss.

    There are a couple game-breaking glitches upsetting my enjoyment, but when it decides to work I find myself completely happy while Vita-ing.

    This might be my favorite Vita game, but it’s funny the way I can’t recommend it to anyone because of some of those glitches.

  2. Erick T. November 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    I’m glad you brought up aveline, that doesn’t sound very fun at all; it in fact sounds as though they are shoving story line at your face instead of letting the game flow. I hear the naval battles are pretty tits though, looking forward to the full review.

    • Brandon November 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      I don’t know if you’ll get a full review. I’m not playing it any longer and I don’t know if anyone else here is.

      • Erick T. November 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

        That’s review enough for me than.

      • AutisticAngel November 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

        Not me. 7 – 8 hours was my limit as well.

        There are many games I don’t cotton to, even though I can recognize what other people enjoy them. Sports games. Vanquish. The Devil May Cry series.

        AC3: Liberation is simply across-the-board awful. Nothing works the way it’s supposed to, and the fundamental design decisions are such that it wouldn’t be much better if they did. It isn’t even bad in interesting or inventive ways. Unless you relish the prospect of devoting half your time to managing notoriety, playing trial-and-error with hidden enemies in insta-fail stealth missions, and plodding through a story that thinks it can mask banality with overwhelming obtuseness, you wouldn’t like it either.

        This game isn’t bad because it’s broken; it’s a bad, poorly explained, and dreadfully dull game which also happens to be broken.

  3. camazotz November 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    I think I finally have accepted that Assassin’s Creed as a series is something I’d rather go read the novelisations of rather than play through the game. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed it (played AC 1 and 2) but that the interesting bits are tedious to get to….there’s a story I want to experience, but the punishment is having to play my way through to it, and the AC series seems to have a lot of distracting filler. Anyway, thanks for the non-review review.

  4. Michael Barnes November 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    Don’t really care to comment on the game- which I see as the modern-day equivalent of a “Game Boy version”- but I think that mid-game comments like this are usually more illustrative than a full review. Particularly if it’s a game that’s going south.

    It is TOTALLY a drag to be assigned a crap game and you’re two hours in and already hating it. I fully believe that most games can be determined to be either good or bad in the first hour. The finer points aren’t there, but you know in one hour which side of the binary evaluation it’s going to fall on.

    Lately, I’ve realized that I absolutely do not care about finishing most games anymore, unless there’s a compelling story or if I’m really invested in the gameplay and how it develops over its course. I really, really like Dishonored, but after six missions I’m kind of done with it- I feel like the game’s shown me its best already, the development curve is matured (and really kind of stagnant), and I’m not really compelled to complete it. I’m not forecasting anything particularly surprising or engaging in the story, and when I sit down to play I find that I’d rather just get back to Halo 4 or XCOM. It’s just not worth finishing to me right now.

    So yeah, I value the ability to tap out of a game without being impelled by an assignment to finish it (or 75% percent it, which is more realistic).

    It’s a total myth that you have to see the final cut scene and end credits of a game to develop a substantive opinion on it.

    • StillAtMyMoms November 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

      Ditto on Dishonored. Great atmosphere; quite the ambitious title. But missions became pretty repetitive. (Sleep dart the fawk out of ‘em!) I just stuck around for the characters and the atmosphere of Dunwall rather than the story or gameplay. (This goes back to that previous comment where I debate on should we play for the story or the actual gameplay.) I reccomend you do the same. Also, it is kind of fun to play around with the supernatural powers. I didn’t realize a lot of top-notch voice talent was included in the game, too. Other than that, I hope for another sequel with vast improvement.

  5. JonJacob November 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    It’s glitchy, the running looks slow, the story is like a shot gun and you kind of have to piece together what pellet came from where on your own, the persona’s can on occasion be irritating (not being able to choose who you are)… but I’m enjoying myself one hell of a lot and I question whether or not they could have done a better job then they have. The game really feels like it pushed the limits of the Vita and is certainly a better Assassins Creed then the frist game was… but is probably a step below part 2.

    Thing is, I love the main character and the setting is incredible. I’m so happy they chose such an interesting setting and some great characters and voice acting. I was surprised by how low the review scores were. Seems to me people were expecting a console game. But then again I enjoyed Unit 13 a lot and it’s scores were abysmal too (which in video game world is like 70% or so).

    It may be my favorite big vita game… but I loved Mutant Blobs Attack and Soundshapes, the pinball arcade is incredible .. all small games essentially. The only big original game that really rivals it is Uncharted (maybe Gravity Rush but it got boring faster). This is about on that level to me. Yes, more glitches but I think more ambitious and a little less money on development.

  6. Tom Chick November 7, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    Man, Brandon, you really suck at making me not want to play games you decide you don’t like. Between your comments on this and Gravity Rush, I feel like I need a Vita. And in both instances, I think you thought you were waving me off the game! If I end up with a Vita, IT WILL BE ALL YOUR FAULT.

    • Brandon November 8, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      I actually liked Gravity Rush. I don’t think it held up over the entirety of the campaign and the story ending left much to be desire, but I don’t think I wasted the time I put into it.

      That being said, making you regret purchases is my primary goal in this life.

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