The Assassin's Creed series continues its new Colonial America theme with Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, a handheld game to be released exclusively on Sony's struggling PS Vita system on October 31.
The game takes place in New Orleans between 1765 and 1780 and focuses on the French and Indian War rather than the American Revolution. You play as Aveline de Grandpré, a Creole daughter of a French father and African mother. She's the first female assassin in the game and wields a variety of weapons, including a whip, a blowpipe, a machete, knives and various firearms.
Ubisoft demonstrated an early version of the game during E3 and both the gameplay and graphics are spectacular, far exceeding anything you can hope for with an Android or iOS device. Aveline's freerunning skills are very much on display and the layout of Ubisoft's version of the French Quarter will look very familiar to anyone who's spent time in that (relatively unchanged) New Orleans neighborhood.
Possibly in recognition that portable gameplay is often crammed into small blocks of time while you're waiting to do something else, Ubisoft has created a "chain kill" mode that allows you to pause the game, tag a series of enemy soldiers and then take them all out in one fluid motion. If you'd rather engage each opponent one-by-one, that's still an option.
Maybe Vita can be a more successful platform once we see a few more games like Liberation. Unfortunately, Ubisoft didn't seem to have much company in Vita quality department this year. Maybe times are changing and everyone's going to be happy to have Angry Birds in their pocket for the rest of their lives. If you've got a Vita, you're going to want this game. Will Aveline inspire anyone to buy a $200 piece of hardware just to play the game? That's a tougher call.