Here at gamescom 2012, Ubisoft finally granted hands-on access to its newest assassin, Aveline, star of Assassin’s Creed III Liberation. In this video, story writer Richard Farrese walks us through some of the new features found in PS Vita’s first entry in the series.
Liberation takes full advantage of the new Assassin’s Creed III game engine and its simplified control scheme. Gone are the days of leaning on the shoulder button and playing defense during encounters. Press Square for melee attacks, hold and release Triangle to aim and fire ranged weapons, Circle counters, X is used for block-breakers and other moves. It’s a bit of an adjustment to begin thinking offense first in an Assassin’s Creed game, but ultimately it’s likely to be seen as an improvement.
Ubisoft is taking advantage of PS Vita’s touchscreen in logical ways: tapping the screen brings up a split weapon wheel where you can select melee weapons (machete, hidden blades) on the left and ranged weapons (blowgun, whip) on the right. Of note: with the whip equipped, Aveline improves her parkour abilities, latching onto structures much as Ezio used the hook blade in Assassin’s Creed Revelations. You may have seen a shot in the gamescom trailer showing Aveline paddling a canoe using the rear touch panel, though that’s entirely optional.
If you’ve watched any videos for Liberation, you’ve likely seen the “Chain Kill” system in action. Reminiscent of Fallout 3’s VATS mechanic, a tap of the Right button on the D-pad pauses the game and allows you to select enemies to target for cinematic insta-kills. While the number of enemies you can target will grow as the campaign progresses, don’t think you’re going to Chain Kill your way through the game. At best, it’s likely to tilt overwhelming odds slightly more in your favor, much as Ezio could call in his assassin buddies from time to time in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Revelations.
After trying out these features in a bayou setting, a Ubisoft staffer took the reins to show off Liberation’s “Persona” feature. No, you’re not evoking parts of your psyche to attack evil creatures. Rather, this system refers to Aveline’s ability to get the job done by blending in with the denizens of old New Orleans. Or not.
We were shown three ways to dispatch a well-guarded, high value target. The first — Assassin mode — follows the traditional Assassin’s Creed formula: Sneak or fight your way to the target, execute a flashy takedown, and get the hell out of there with guards in pursuit.
Next, we reset the mission and changed into the “Lady Persona.” Decked out in a fancy dress and feathered hat, high society Aveline can’t run, climb, or battle assassin-style. Rather, the Lady engages in “social stealth,” relying on bribery, feminine charms, and the hidden blade to accomplish the task completely undetected.
Splitting the difference is the “Servant Persona.” Posing as a member of the working class, Aveline can infiltrate pretty much anywhere, get the job done, then take to the rooftops to escape. Just don’t get into a protracted battle in this persona – in the demo we watched, the lightly-armored Servant fell in just two blows.
We were told that while you’ll occasionally be forced to tackle a mission in a particular persona, for much of the game Aveline will assume the guise of your choosing.
I was able to squeeze a few story tidbits out of our demonstrator. Series mainstay Desmond is not the one in control of Aveline via the Animus. Rather, the tale is being played out as a part of a Templar-controlled Abstergo project. Assassin’s Creed III Liberation is, however, related to the PS3’s Assassin’s Creed III, which takes place during the same American Revolution time period. Aveline will encounter ACIII protagonist Connor during the course of Liberation, perhaps swapping weapons with him (I saw his trademark tomahawk in the menus). Fittingly, both titles arrive on the same day, this October 30th.