The Ubisoft offerings at gamescom 2012 included a chance to see a brief demonstration of Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation and as Assassin's Creed fans we naturally could not turn down the opportunity to see the upcoming PS Vita title for ourselves. Although our time with the game was very brief, we got the opportunity to see some interesting mechanics that set this new title apart from other entries in the franchise.
Liberation will feature the first ever player-controlled female assassin, Aveline de Grandpré, who will be the main character in this adventure. The Ubisoft Sofia development team explained to us that even such a small change brought a great challenge, as the entire player animation system had to be totally redone to suit that character model.
It must be said that maintaining the graphical integrity while porting the franchise over to Sony's handheld Vita system has been a great success and, while the image is not quite up to modern PS3 standards, it is not far behind and this is certainly looking like a visually appealing title.
The section of the game we saw was set in New Orleans in 1771 and, although not much of the storyline was given away, we were told that there will be some overlap between the plot of Liberation and the adventures of Connor Kenway in Assassin's Creed 3 and that both games will cover similar time periods. Bonus content will be available to players who own both games on Sony platforms and connecting the Vita game to the PS3 game will unlock items and upgrades for use by Aveline in Liberation; although no comment was made on whether content will also be unlocked in Assassin's Creed 3 by the same methods.
We were shown a brief demonstration of a mission in which Aveline must infiltrate a Spanish fort, kill a templar and steal some documents. This was a stealth mission in which Aveline had to sneak across the rooftops and avoid being spotted by the guards.
In her movement across the rooftops we were introduced to a new tool in this Assassin's arsenal. Using her whip, Aveline swings across larger gaps than would be possible to jump and this offers increased mobility in a unique way. This is not the only new tool in her collection, we were given a demonstration of her blowpipe, which she uses to poison guards from afar, and were told that she will wield a fearsome machete in melee combat.
Unfortunately Aveline was caught by the guards on her attempt at this mission, so we did not get to see here assassination carried to fruition. However, this unexpected early finish meant that we were given time to explore another feature unique to the Liberation title: Namely, disguises.
Aveline has three different outfits to wear while she goes about missions and each will affect the gameplay experience and how she goes about achieving her objectives. We had already seen her assassin's garb, but were told that she can also disguise herself as either an aristocrat or a servant.
We then got to see a brief demonstration of Aveline's abilities when she is in her aristocrat disguise. In this outfit she is less mobile than in her assassin's clothes; she cannot sprint while wearing this restrictive dress and, given that she is particularly conspicuous to watchers, cannot climb and free run.
However, she does have other abilities to rely on. Her hidden blade remains available for stealthy takedowns and her blowpipe is replaced by a parasol, which can also be used to deliver a poison blow from afar. Given that the parasol is disguised cleverly as part of the outfit it can be used in plain sight without anyone suspecting a thing.
In this disguise, Aveline also has the ability to bribe her way past soldiers and can even use her charm to secure one as a follower. She can only charm one soldier at a time, but this soldier will then act as an escort for her, decreasing suspicion from other soldiers when moving through restricted areas and even fighting on her behalf should she encounter trouble. Of course, she can also use her charm simply to get them to follow her into a quiet corner before stabbing them with the hidden blade.
This was all the time we had to spend with Assassin's Creed: Liberation but in this short demonstration we saw a healthy mix of classic Assassin's Creed gameplay and enough new additions to the formula to make this an interesting experience. The disguises system is a nice addition that has the potential to give the player significant choice as to how they approach a mission and Aveline's new gadgets look like they will be fun to play with. Assassin's Creed: Liberation will be released for the PS Vita on 30th October 2012.