Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD (2014)

Genre: Action / Adventure  |  Players: 1  |  Developer: Ubisoft

Ass Creed got its first playable female protagonist in AC: Lib. The creation of Aveline de Grandpré, an assassin of African and French heritage, may well have been to address criticisms from gamers up to that point but to Ubisoft’s credit both aspects play a key role in the game. It’s not just a cheap cosmetic change.

It uses the AC III game engine but does interesting things with it. Aveline can change her clothes to best suit the task at hand. Hold back the cries of Women + Video Game + Clothes = Sexism for a second because there’s a good reason for her frequent visits to the clothing store. The ‘guise’ she wears gives her a persona that makes it easier to infiltrate certain areas and affords to her a level of camouflage; e.g. few people will look twice at a slave carrying a box into the servant’s entrance of a rich Lord’s house. But once in the house the box can be dropped and the hidden blades revealed. The same applies to the opposite end of the societal spectrum. When dressed as a lady of leisure Aveline can gather information from people in power during their rich-folks garden party, etc. It enables the player to get right into the heart of the action instead of having to constantly hide some place and eavesdrop like a creep.

It takes place in America during the second half of the 18th Century. The astute among you will notice that’s the same era that AC III is set. Indeed, while Ratonhnhaké:ton was fighting Templar control in the colonies Aveline was doing her part in New Orleans amid the transition from French to Spanish control of the city. However, while AC III was from the perspective of Desmond and his useless cohorts, AC: Lib is a virtual environment provided by Abstergo Industries, so the legitimacy of events is questionable—the assassin might not be perceived as the good guy (or gal) all the time. Is it enemy propaganda?

Some Good: Being on the HDD means it loads quickly. Aveline is a better thief than anyone that preceded her. Play the trading game properly and money will roll in easily. It’s much easier to avoid detection from enemies; it’s arguably too easy. Chain-kills are fun. Another returning feature from previous games is the glitches. I had to reboot the game four times, which is a new low record (hey, it's a kind of improvement). There's no Desmond!

Some Bad: You can’t skip FMV if you restart a Memory. The emptiness of many handheld games is carried over. The autosave sometimes doesn't work. It feels short in comparison to the others in the series. It tempts you with the idea that missions can be approached differently depending on which guise you adopt but that rarely happens. It more often than not restricts you to one specific persona, even going so far as to automatically change it at mission start, meaning the game has a lot less freedom and certainly less replay value than it could've had.

3 unwashed scabs out of 5

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