'Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD' Updates The Vita Classic For Consoles

January 16, 2014

For the past seven years the Assassin's Creed franchise has been simulating stealthy historical adventures, much to the pleasure of critics and fans alike. Much like every series that spans platforms and console generations, Assassin's has had its high and low points, and in 2012, one of those highs came from an unexpected place; the portable Assassin's Creed III: Liberation. The PS Vita-only title was released as a complement to Assassin's Creed 3, but it took place in a slightly different time period, and starred a completely different assassin, Aveline de Grandpré, the first female to star in any of the games. Liberation surprised a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons, and it most recently made some waves when Ubisoft announced that it was being updated, and re-released in high definition. One of the most unique chapters of the Assassin's franchise is now available on consoles, where it lives up to the high expectations set by its predecessors.

Developer: Ubisoft Sofia
Publisher: Ubisoft

As one of Ubisoft's youngest studios, the team at Sofia have worked on only a handful of titles, but none of them were as high profile as Assassin's Creed III: Liberation. Having dabbled with some of Ubi's other long-standing franchises like Prince of Persia, Rayman and Ghost Recon, Ubisoft Sofia really proved just how big they could go on a portable device with Liberation. The same team that worked on the original release was brought in to work on the HD upgrade, and given their experience with the title were able to address some updates while adding a shiny, new coat of paint.

Liberation tells the harrowing story of Aveline de Grandpré, an African-American assassin living in New Orleans in the 18th century. Similarly to other Assassin's Creed games, Aveline's adventures put the ongoing struggles of the Templars and the Assassins front and center, as she plays her role in the centuries old battle. Layered on top of that is the looming American Revolution which, in Liberation is set against the backdrop of slavery in Louisiana. This complicated mix of the sociopolitical landscape makes Assassin's Creed: Liberation one of the most complex games ever released - at least from an American history standpoint.

As for the gameplay, much of the experience falls in line with its console predecessors, offering only a few tweaks here and there to the tried and true Assassin's formula. In addition to the updated visuals, Liberation HD improves upon the original Vita release by making small adjustments to some of the community's biggest gripes. For example, there is better pacing for the missions, polished world layouts for smoother free-running, and redefined controls that are tailored to the console experience. However, the biggest thing that sets Liberation HD apart from the original release are the 15 additional missions for Aveline's personas, adding new gameplay, and a deeper story for the console release.

The original version of Liberation has been available on the PS Vita for the last 14 months or so, but Liberation HD lands as a digital-only title on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Steam this week. For $19.99 you can relive Aveline's adventure on the big screen, and enjoy all the perks that come along with that.

There's only a handful of games that can really benefit from a high definition upgrade, and it's questionable whether or not Liberation is one of them. The updated graphics, gameplay tweaks, and additional content are all well and good, but the real reason that this game is worth playing is because you probably missed out on its first release. While the Vita is a quality piece of hardware, it had a relatively small the installed base when Liberation came out, especially when compared to the numbers that the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Steam have. So, there's a pretty good chance you missed it. Liberation was worth playing the first time around, and that still stands for this release - the new stuff should only really appeal to the folks that spent some time with the Vita version. In short, whether you've already played it or not, Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD is well worth your time, no matter what screen you're playing it on.