City building and restoration helped give a sense of ownership in past Assassin's Creed games, but the closest Liberation comes to it is repairing what amount to closets scattered about the main city. The closets allow Aveline to change into one of three outfits for the mission at hand: lady, slave, and assassin. In theory, they should each have their own strengths, limitations, and strategies but they don't. Lady limits Aveline's movements, keeping her to the streets like an affluent pedestrian while slave and assassin garb only seem to differ on a superficial level. One mission or another will require a change of clothes, mostly for infiltrating an event or blending in, but that's the extent of it. This inconsistency filters down to Liberation's implementation of Vita specific features, as well. Once, I had to paddle a canoe through the swamp mimicking strokes of an oar with my finger on the rear touchpad. The next time I was in a canoe, it's almost as if the game realized this was a bad idea and took control out of my hands, no pun intended. I can't say this bothered me one bit given how difficult it is to hold the Vita, guide the canoe's direction with one thumb on the left analog stick, and use my right index middle finger to manipulate the "oars." The touch interface works best when implemented in ways that make sense. Targeting foes by tapping on them works much better than using the left bumper and swapping weapons with the touch menu is awesome. Opening letters by pinching the console's front and rear touchscreens while pulling to the left? Not so much. Being required to point the rear camera at a bright light to see some hidden object on the letter was even worse. Sitting in a coffee shop with my netbook open, I cranked the brightness of my display on white screen and set the Vita in front of it. No dice. Frustrated and tired of looking like an idiot while pointing the console at this light and that, I set it down on the table. I lifted it up, the camera recognized the light and I "saw" the clue. I tried this several times and it inexplicably worked each time. While its themes of male powerlessness are a change of pace in video games, they're hamstrung by Liberation's lack of unifying vision. It's a shame so much of it feels like a missed opportunity because requisite pieces for a great game are there, but they're just not in the right order. Liberation's most damnable offense is it feels inert, the game itself has a common trait with its main character: a clear lack of motivation.
Aveline can change from assassin to lady to slave through her wardrobe.
This Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation review was based on a digital retail version of the game provided by the publisher.