• Gamer's Gazette Issue IX (Originally published July 24, 2014)

    It's been a while since the last GG huh? Our staff has been busy coming up with awesome new content, such as TWC's Best Games of 2013 and a first look at Ultimate General: Gettysburg. Gotta love some American Civil War action. After you check out those two links, you can read what's in this brand new issue. Up first is a friendly review duel between our resident Assassin's Creed fanboys, who have decided to take a look at Ubisoft's new open world franchise: Watch_Dogs. What do Batman and a fake internet redneck agree on? Mostly that driving is hard. A new challenger appears in Mhaedros, who gives us the lowdown on Thief, the reboot of the classic stealth franchise. Gen. Chris follows with an attempt at beating my record for most articles by one writer in a single issue (yes, he broke it QQ). A look at the puzzle-platformer The Cave preceeds the candy-stealing superhero's look at both versions of Aveline's adventures in the Big Easy with Assassin's Creed: Liberation on PS3 and PS Vita. See, even when the Vita gets a decent game they just port it to other consoles. Those jokes never get old.

    That's it this go round, so until the next issue keep playing and enjoying video games! And maybe get around to trying the ones you bought during the Steam sale?

    Gamer's Gazette Editor
    Confederate Jeb


    Watch_Dogs Review Duel: Gen. Chris
    Watch_Dogs Review
    Watch_Dogs Review

    Watch_Dogs (2014)

    Watch Dogs A year ago, Aiden Pearce attempted to commit electronic robbery at a fancy hotel in the heart of Chicago. His attempt was discovered, but he escaped, decided to leave the city for a while and go on a family trip with his niece and nephew. Two hired hitmen, under orders from an unknown entity, track down Aidenís route and fires a single shot, causing Aiden to crash, and leaving his young niece dead. Knowing the blood is partially on his own hands, Aiden must find out who is responsible, and will use any means necessary to do so.
    Watch Dogs brings the player to Ubisoftís vision of Chicago, a city torn by crime and corruption. But recently a new system, known as ctOS, has been established in the city. The system is designed to connect everyone to everything, including security cameras, personal information, traffic lights and barriers, and much more. As an open world game, Watch Dogs features a nicely sized world that consists of the high rises of downtown Chicago to the docks and slums of the city to the suburbs and a small amount of countryside. Within this open world, Chicago becomes the playground of Aiden.
    The main draw of Watch Dogs, and the thing that Ubisoft marketed the game on, is the ability to hack. Aiden is able to hack into many things, notably cameras, computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. But where his abilities are truly at their greatest is his ability to hack into the city itself The system known as ctOS may have made it easier for the city government to keep the crime low, but it also made the city and its systems vulnerable to Aiden and other hackers. And the hack ability is both fun and incredibly practical, leading Aiden to be able to disrupt communications, aid his escape by disabling vehicles with blockers or blowing up steam pipes underneath roads, disable helicopters, and many other things. Its usefulness cannot be overstated; hacking must be utilized in order to complete your objectives, especially escaping from the police, because shoot outs with the police only harm your reputation and can give you problems later down the line. The most extreme form of hacking is also the most fun: the blackout. While unfortunately (and obviously) only useful at night, the blackout function spreads confusion among Aidenís enemies, and allows him to either escape unnoticed or take everyone out while they are confused. All of this is accomplished through Aidenís smartphone, which is tied into the city infrastructure. This hacking element is fun, and while perhaps not as revolutionary for some, a refreshing change in open world gameplay that really adds a degree of depth to chases and combat that few games can really compare to.

    There are other aspects of gameplay that are noteworthy as well. Combat is fast and fluid, and comes with a variety of weapons and tools that Aiden can use in his pursuit of answers and vengeance. In addition to lethal weapons, Aiden also has the use of a collapsible baton that he uses for non-lethal takedowns, a requirement in some cases where lethality is punished with failure. Driving a variety of cars and other vehicles is also available for travel, and that will be discussed later. Where the game also shines, in addition to the hacking, is the missions and other things available to do. The missions are incredibly varied, all relying on Aiden (and the player) to use a variety of hacking, combat, and sometimes stealth in order to achieve the objective. There was not a single mission that felt like it was rehashing a previous mission, which is a nice change of pace from other games. There are also a variety of side activities that are not only fun but help give Aiden valuable experience that can be used in unlocking new hideouts and skills that are necessary for the game. These skill points can aid Aiden in driving, combat, and crafting. Crafting is another interesting element to the gameplay, which allows Aiden to build weapons as well as the necessary hacking tools (such as blackout, which are single uses and he must craft more). Another fine element to the gameplay is the enemy AI. Fans of the Assassin's Creed games know that guards in those games can be just plain awful at their jobs. In Watch Dogs, if Aiden makes enough of a ruckus or leaves a body to be found by other guards, the guards will actively search for intruders. This can be a bit frustrating, but does add a bit of realism to the game. Finally, the game has impressive weather effects; not so much on the PS3, but after observing them on PS4 and PC, I must say I am impressed with the effort that went into making the game have realistic storms and such.

    While this game is incredibly fun and for the most part a well-polished game, there are two major things that should be criticized. For one, the driving mechanic, in my opinion, is a major weakness of the game. It is as if Ubisoft threw car physics out the window, and it is, in my opinion, incredibly annoying. Cars do not behave as they should, especially when hitting obstacles or other cars, and they sometimes act like these obstacles barely even exist when you hit them. Now, it could be because Ubisoft wanted the player to focus on the other aspects of the game, but when it comes to a large game like this realistic driving, I feel, is a must, especially in the age of Grand Theft Auto. Another major thing I should criticize is the graphics. Iím playing this on PS3, and while I am aware the system is inferior to the new consoles and obviously PC, the game should definitely look better than it does. It still looks nice, but comparing it to the newer consoles makes it clear that the Playstation 3 and possibly the 360 version were given very low priority when it comes to making use of what their hardware is still capable of; this is again in comparison to Grand Theft Auto, whose recent game looked quite stunning even on such old hardware. It also occasionally suffers from the occasional shadow glitch that has plagued Assassinís Creed over the past couple of years, which is somewhat disappointing. There is also a very minor amount of performance issues that are not game breaking but still frustrating considering the large delay that Watch Dogs received. There are also a variety of glitches that are present in the game, the most annoying of which is the disappearing civilian glitch, which involves civilians disappearing occasionally when the player moves the camera away from them and then back. This can be frustrating when trying to hack people, but other than that it is not a terrible glitch. One more minor thing is the use of some of the characters: while all of the characters are, in my opinion, incredibly interesting, several of them seem somewhat underused, or pushed to only a minor background role in the game, consisting of mostly interaction through phone calls. The most obvious example of this is Aidenís partner Jordi Chin, who is absolutely hilarious to listen to but is unfortunately only physically present in only a little bit of the game. This is also a problem for other characters, who mostly interact with Aiden through phone calls. Perhaps I am being a bit harsh in comparing this game to Grand Theft Auto V, but coming on the heels of it I feel that the two main problems, or at least the driving mechanics, needs to be heavily improved on if they are to make this into a franchise, which I fully expect they will.
    Overall, I feel like the positives far outweigh the negatives. The game, at least in my opinion, has an amazing story and an amazing cast of characters who are wonderfully voice acted. A lot of the criticism is aimed at Aiden as a character, how he is unlikable and not even close to heroic. In all honesty, it is refreshing to play as a non-heroic character, as that opportunity only comes along rarely. The game is incredibly varied, including profiles of every single NPC you will see, with a large amount of different descriptions, occupations, and even ages that lead to very few ďclonesĒ in the game. The game AI is also pretty good, leading the police and other enemies to try to box Aiden in during chases and enemies attempting to flank or force Aiden out of cover with grenades during shootouts. The soundtrack is also pretty good, if minimal, and really heightens the mood and sense of urgency during key sequences. I have not had a chance to play much of multiplayer, but having been invaded once I will say that it is an absolute thrill trying to find the person hacking you. With everything there is available to do and see, Watch Dogs is certainly a worthy buy. Whereas it may not be everything that people were hoping to see, it is still an incredible game worthy of your time.


    Watch_Dogs Review Duel: Confederate Jeb
    Watch_Dogs Review
    Watch_Dogs Review

    I've been playing a lot of open world third person shooter games recently (thank you Xbox Games with Gold), which makes comparing and contrasting the various franchises inevitable. Watch Dogs, a new contender to this genre, is a bit different than the rest, with a thriller like take on gameplay. With spying and hacking being very prevalent in the news the past few years, Watch Dogs seeks to capitalize on the idea of a smart city connected to one grid. But is such a system trustworthy? Who exactly is using the system? And who are the watch dogs for such a system (shout out to that last minute title drop in game)? But more importantly, is this game right for you? Read on to find out.

    Our story begins rather violently, where we are introduced to Aiden Pearce, AKA The Vigilante, a hacker with a serious grudge following a botched robbery and a tragic death. Pearce, thanks to his technical savvy and an early upgrade to his phone called the Profiler, is able to hack into the ctOS, the operating system of Chicago, and exploit it to his advantage. Personal information, bank accounts, security cameras, and traffic lights are only a finger taps away. Pearce primarily uses this ability to hunt down those who have hurt his family in the past and stop nearby crime, but his hunt for the truth leads him to discover governmental conspiracies, powerful gangs, corrupt corporations, hitmen called fixers with similar hacking abilites, and some very angry rednecks. He is not alone throughout his quest, as a ragtag band of hackers of various motives support his pursuit of justice and, perhaps, bringing the system to its knees.

    Overall, Watch Dogs' story is hectic, with many plot lines converging at once. While this fits the theme of a conspiracy-ridden Chicago where everyone has a secret, the pacing makes it seem as if Aiden is sidetracking much of the time and delaying more important matters. This mishmash of plots not only affects the story but the characters as well; one primary villain only makes three appearances in total, and another that plays a crucial roll in Aiden's character growth has his entire story detailed only via collectables, making two of the most important scenes of the game depend entireli on something the player may or may not do. While I am a fan of collectables, this method of storytelling has always bothered me. Other well written characters such as Jordi Chin, an amoral fixer hired by Aiden for support, do not get nearly enough screen time while more relatively boring characters manage to make a phone call every other mission. Aiden himself is not the most memorable protagonist, but he finds himself solidly in the average category of main characters rather than anywhere below.

    Like it's story and characters, gameplay can be a mixed bag. Watch Dogs shines when it's most unique asset, hacking, is on display. Aiden can hack security cameras to locate targets or set off noisemakers or traps to confuse and kill his foes. Need a quick escape from the police? Disable their helicopter's searchlights and change the traffic lights for a multi-car pileup. Cash is always available by hacking into citizens' bank accounts. Aiden's abilities allow for a more stealthy approach to combat, which is a good change of pace from the usual shootouts. Such gunfights still occur, but hacking and the use of remote detonated IEDs or disabling all lights on a given block are satisfying techniques. Speaking of gunfights, Aiden has access to a multitude of weapons. However, I found myself sticking with the silenced pistol, given to the player either at the beginning of the game or very early on, for most situations, with occasional usage of a light machine gun, grenade launcher, and sniper rifle. Gaining early access to the higher tier weapons make all others obsolete, but with headshots and stealth being an important part of the game the silenced pistol finds more uses than it probably should. This could easily have just been my play style rather than a specific game mechanic. SMGs, assault rifles, and shotguns fill out the rest of Aiden's repertoire. Watch Dogs has a variety of mission types, avoiding the issue of previous Ubisoft new IPs (i.e. Assassin's Creed), and mixes stealth, action, and driving in numerous ways. Side activities vary; good ones include personal invasions into the daily lives of Chicagoans, gaining access to new systems, and taking down enemies in hideouts, while bad ones include a couple of pointless alternate reality games involving shooting viruses and running over zombies. Fixer contracts are also available, ranging from leading police on a high speed chase to assassinating gang members and other fixers.

    One thing that cannot be chalked up as a mixed bag is the driving. It is, without exaggeration, the worst driving I have ever experience in gaming. It makes GTA IV's driving above average in comparison. The physics are heavy and controlling a vehicle accurately is done with extreme difficultly. The only vehicles that are even close to being drivable are the motorcycles, which should probably tell you all you need to know. This is compounded by such things as stealth driving sections (clever in concept, frustrating in execution), enemies that can shoot while driving (but somehow that skill is lost to Aiden), and enemy drivers that can perform 90 degree turns and instantly stop all momentum you've managed to gain. Because driving is such an important part of the game, this issue is compounded over time. While not as detrimental to the game as the driving mechanics, Aiden's normal controls take some time to get used to. The best way I can describe it is that something feels off, but as I played the game this issue for the most part went away. I would say that Aiden controls fairly well, but there is room for improvement.

    As far as graphics are concerned, I played the game on the Xbox 360 so obviously I can't say much. The game looks good, but certainly isn't the best game I've ever seen on the previous generation consoles. It goes without saying that the game should look pretty good on the Xbox One, PS4, and PC (ignoring the E3 graphics story). A few smaller things I noticed were that when information appears on nearby people the faces in the information box look really bad and that objects occasionally disappear when you look away. Again this could be a previous generation performance issue more than anything. Aesthetically the Chicago of Watch Dogs could, for the most part, be any large city in America. While a local other than New York or southern California is a good change of pace, the city doesn't give off the feel of "This is Chicago," but instead of a near future city that happens to be the America's third largest city. While historical information is available in game via hotspots, the opportunity has been missed to really capture life in Chicago...unless the whole gang violence thing fulfills that role, which isn't exactly wrong (sorry Chicago).

    Despite primarily being a singleplayer story, Watch Dogs also has multiplayer. Free roam is available for groups of friends, as well as online matchmaking for races. However, the most unique twist to multiplayer is the one-on-one invasions. If you have the online setting turned on, random players will invade your singleplayer game while you are roaming the city. The invader is tasked with staying hidden and stealing data from the invadee by staying within a given area. The invadee must find and kill the invader before he manages to collect the data. This game mode is fun, intense, and really capitalizes on the hacking theme. For less aggressive players, a invasion that merely requires the invader to follow and observe the invadee is also available, though can still end with the invader being killed should the player be conspicuous. While the racing matches are nothing to be thrilled about (especially considering the driving controls), the invasion-styled game modes are worthy additions that help spice up the singleplayer experience.

    When I first started playing Watch Dogs, the controls (almost entirely the driving) had me only playing in short bursts to conserve my sanity, but as I grew accustomed to everything non-driving I couldn't put the game down. This is a game that is a proof of concept for an open world hacking thriller, and Watch Dogs does just that. These high notes are contrasted by the controls, the atrocious driving, and slightly above average plot. While I wouldn't recommended going out and buying the game immediately, this is certainly a game worth playing at some point and a franchise to look out for in the near future.

    - CJ

    ConceptHacking and conspiracies with open world shooting and parkour in the Windy City.
    GraphicsGraphics were good but nothing mindblowing. My review is for the Xbox 360 version, however, so it should be obvious that the PC/PS4/Xbox One versions are shinier.
    SoundVoice acting is good, though some may find Aiden's gruff "Christian Bale Batman" voice irritating. The soundtrack is underwhelming, with a mix between a mediocre licensed playlist and an original electronic score than fails to have a standout piece.
    PlayabilityOverall controls take some getting used to. Driving controls are the stuff of nightmares.
    EntertainmentThe hacking abilities and different take on accomplishing missions is worth experiencing.
    MultiplayerThe drop-in invasions are exciting and tense, though can be annoying you are in the middle of something, such as gathering collectables. Free roam is also available.
    Overall Score7/10 - Good*

    *New rating system! See the contributor section for more details.

    Thief Review
    Thief Review
    Thief Review


    Thief 2014

    There are some obvious comparisons to be made between the new Thief reboot and Dishonored, Arkane Studiosí hit-game from 2011. One is a first person stealth game about a thief in a steampunk city, in the Unreal engine, the other is a first person stealth game about an assassin in a steampunk city, in Unreal engine. Oh, and more importantly I really like both of them. At least that was my initial feeling, but then I emerged from the Clock Tower on my second mission or so, and suddenly it wasnít all that likable anymore...

    Thief, the reboot of the popular games from 1998, 2000 and 2004 as well as the spiritual younger brother of Dishonored, is a Square Enix creation. Square Enix isnít the best of news according to many people which is why I was a bit scared to buy Thief in the first place, though also because it has not received the best of reviews and hands-on examinations, but I thought why the hell not, and got it anyway. Iím not regretting that. What I do regret, a bit anyway, is that I still havenít played the original Thief games, so I really donít know much about the lore, about Garrett, the protagonist, or about the City. I do however know itís a game about stealing, and thatís something I should think is easy enough.

    Garrett, the master thief with a leather fetish

    The game is about Garrett the master thief. He steals in order to buy tools which he use to steal more. He steals from the rich and the poor alike.

    Well, at least thatís what you would think itís about, but apparently there is a whole other story going on. The City is near the brink of civil war, the lower classes have had enough of the Baronsí industrial revolution and the tyranny of the city watch. Itís your basic ďpower to the peopleĒ plot, with a bearded hero and a number of fanatic followers. And a plague of course, what is a fantasy victorian city without a horrible plague killing everything?

    As if a revolution and a plague wasnít bad enough, Garrett is hunted by...dreams, in want of a better word, where his ex-protegťe, Erin speaks with him. Itís all very emotional and whoever thought about putting the protagonist in a dream world in order to talk to people in a stealth game before?

    Garrett and Orion, the bearded hero of the people

    Garrett begins his journey at the beginning of a robbery. There is a 30 minute prologue which is relatively easy, and then the real game begins, but where I would have hoped for a large, open world map to explore and lots of houses and NPCs to steal from I got a near empty box with a few lifeless dummies staring at each other, at most walking around in pre-destined routes, always with the same dialogue, never with their lips moving. What makes it worse is that none of the NPCís, save the guards of course, do anything to try to stop the thief taking all their stuff! I once walked into a shed, took everything the couple who lived in it owned, and walked back out, without a reaction from anyone! Frankly large parts of the game feel completely unfinished and lazy and as if that wasnít bad enough, there are multiple cases where guards start glitching, get stuck in lampposts or just fly around in circles.

    It does have some better parts though, especially if you play a stealth playthrough like mine was. I tried to make sure never to be seen, and I never killed. Which on the one hand makes the game extremely easy, because it really isnít difficult to go through the game without killing anyone, it just requires a bit of patience and some reloading if you should get killed. On the other hand though, it feels good when after five reloads you have finally managed to sneak through a light room with two guards and a maid without getting seen, stealing all their belongings as you go along. It makes you feel like Garrett, and thatís a good thing.

    Garrett has a variety of different kinds of arrows to his disposal

    Something that does annoy me about the game is constant cutscenes with horrible voice acting. I had to turn the subtitles on just to hear what people were saying, and my audio was about as loud as it could be. Cutscenes destroy pretty much all the pride you gain by being sneaky, you make it to the room where the thing youíre after is hidden and...a cutscene, a group of guards break into the room and thenÖ a chase over the rooftops? What were they thinking?! And for an open world game there are ridiculously many loading screens. There are loading screens for walking through gates, there are loading screens for going through piles of rubble (all of which are identical Square), sometimes there are even loading screens for going through windows!

    Garrett has a number of tools to his disposal, including a blackjack, a bow, a grappling claw and other things, like vast amounts of arrows and flashbombs.

    The whole openess of Dishonored and the earlier Thief games is almost completely gone. Before you could shoot your rope arrows anywhere and climb up it, but now there are pre-destined pillars you shoot them at. In Dishonored there were countless ways to face your target, now thereís usually a single path to follow. The only choice you really get is if you want to play as a thoughtless killer or a stealthy thief, and that doesnít make for replayability.

    Despite all my gripes with the game I still think itís worth playing if you enjoy stealth. It has a replay missions feature, so you can try a different approach. Want to kill everything that moves? Go ahead! Did you (like me) completely miss the whole collectibles part of the game until mission 3? Go back and find them all!

    ​Basso, the shady fence who gives you jobs and stuff

    I donít really have much to say about graphics to be honest; Itís what you would expect from an AAA game in 2014, nice modelling, nice texturing, nice animations (though I have a creeping suspicion Garrett is just a flying camera with hands).

    As I already mentioned the voice acting is something that should have been done better. Itís probably not the highest priority of everyone, not me either, but itís terrible when you have to watch a cutscene with no idea what anyone is saying. Garrettís voice is for the most part fine, but when it comes to the bearded hero I mentioned earlier...

    Well, what to say. Is it a bad game? No. Itís not bad, though some people wonít agree with me here of course. Did I enjoy playing it? Yes, I most certainly did, because I like stealth and I think thereís a certain thrill in sneaking your way through a game. Would I give it game of the year, a 9 out of 10 or any other high praise? No, because it feels unfinished, and though some parts are great, others are just pure bad.

    The Cave Review
    The Cave Review
    The Cave Review

    The Cave (2013)
    The Cave Ever wanted to play a game where you explore the dark pasts of seven playable characters all while experiencing some of the strangest puzzles and darkest humor in a video game? Look no further.

    The Cave is a puzzle-platforming 2D sidescrolling game, but do not let that discourage you. This game is rather interesting in that it manages to keep gameplay fresh and increase replayability by offering you the chance to play as seven characters(okay, eight...one of the characters involves a pair of rather creepy twin children) all with varying degrees of dark pasts. The Cave allows the player to take them down into an omnipotent cave in three person teams to explore these dark events as well as other playable chambers in order. With every character comes a unique memory, requiring the player to complete the game at least three times to explore the past of every character. Every character also has a unique ability that allows them to traverse their portion of the cave as well as be useful elsewhere.
    There are several positive attributes of this game. For one, the sheer nature of gameplay means that the player must replay the game at least three times in order to fully play the game, with that number increasing dramatically should the player wish to do all the small side activities associated with different chambers. Every character is unique with a rather interesting past, which combined with the need to replay it anyway adds greatly to the the replayability of the cave. The game also has a rather dark sense of humor, comparable to that of the Portal games, mostly played out through the narration of the omnipotent cave (yes, the cave is the narrator of the game). Extremely cynical and morbid, the humor of the game might often leave you in shock followed by nervous laughter as you realize the implications of what is being done or said. Another positive attribute of the game is the rather unique and intricate puzzles, creatively arranged to be both frustrating and fun as you finally put the pieces together to figure it out to complete that portion of the cave. One rather unique puzzle involves time traveling through three different time periods (using the Time Traveler character, of course) to wipe out the history of an entire family tree just so that one person would not exist in the future. These puzzles forces the player to use each of their three characters to perform different tasks in each chamber, often needing to be in a precise order to effectively solve the puzzle. These puzzles are the highlight of the game along with the humor, and really require you to think outside of the box in order to solve some of them.

    As with all games, The Cave does come with its negatives. Fortunately they are few, and not exactly gamebreaking. For one, exploration of the cave naturally requires platforming sections, and in this regard the game sometimes falls a bit flat. Sometimes the controls do not quite react the way they should, leading to some sloppy jumps or landings that can often result in a time consuming backtrack or an inconvenience in the form of death. Not a huge deal as deaths do not count towards anything in the game, but the controls do present a problem at some times. The other minor gripe is that the game sometimes has some rather annoying lag and frame rate issues. This is not a huge problem, as they really only occur during non-crucial events such as loading the next chamber, but it can be a bit frustrating to see since the game is not exactly graphically intensive and should not see such drops. But these are really the only issues in the game, and should not hinder gameplay even a little.
    While perhaps not the most exciting of games, The Cave is a fun adventure into the dark side of human interaction. The puzzles are unique, the humor is morbid, and the game is short enough to justify the large number of times you would need to replay it to do everything. It is a simple game, yet in its simplicity, it shines. If you can get it for a cheap price (I got it for free), I recommend it.


    Assassin's Creed Liberation HD Review
    AC Liberation HD Review
    AC Liberation HD Review

    Assassin's Creed Liberation HD
    "I stand with those who stand with me. I lure my prey through the guise of a lady. I escape unnoticed through the veil of a slave. And though I may conceal my identity, one thing is certain: commit injustice in this world, and I'll send you to the next. I am Aveline de Grandprť, I am an Assassin, and I fight for liberation."
    Assassin's Creed Liberation HD Aveline de Grandprť lives a dual lifestyle. In one world, she is the doting daughter of a wealthy trader and her stepmother, both of whom love her dearly. Despite her status as the daughter of a slave whom her father loved, Avelineís beauty and status leaves her as desirable attraction for the men of the city of New Orleans. In the other world, Aveline is a deadly Assassin with a desire to free her people from the bonds of servitude. She must carefully balance these two worlds, but as her story progresses, the line between her lives begins to blur. Her hunt for her mother, the mysterious Templar agent known as the Company Man, and a mysterious artifact she discovers will have drastic consequences on her life.
    Assassin's Creed Liberation HD

    In the present day, an excited person has just recently unboxed a brand new game to play on their favorite system. As they load up the game, they delve into an exciting world of eighteenth century New Orleans, opening up exciting possibilities as they play a character known as Aveline de Grandpre. As they play through Avelineís life, they see a woman who is torn between two worlds as she tries to bring her ideals to fruition. But there is more to the story of Aveline than the game is showing, and only through further exploration does the player come to understand the true nature of the past.

    Assassinís Creed Liberation takes place in Colonial America, at the end of the French and Indian War. Avelineís world is small compared to the other games in the series, consisting primarily of the city of New Orleans, the swampy Louisiana Bayou, and the tropical Chichen Itza Mayan complex. New Orleans and the Bayou are by far the most utilized maps, and also the largest. Both New Orleans and the Bayou are fun to explore despite their small size compared to other games, and do have a fair amount of side activities to do. Chichen Itza is more mission-specific and smaller than the other two, so there is not much to do there unfortunately. However, the world despite the limitations imposed on it is still quite beautiful and unique in its own way.

    A brand new mechanic to the game is the use of three ďpersonasĒ, which are essentially different costumes for Aveline. Aveline can change these at various dressing chambers scattered throughout New Orleans and the Bayou, though they must be purchased in order to do so. However, the costumes are much more than simple aesthetic differences. The three personas allow for Aveline to maneuver through her world in a variety of ways, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The first guise is the lady persona. Arguably the most underused one, the lady persona permits Aveline to act and appear as a proper lady, which bestows on her a variety of abilities. For one, she can charm and bribe guards to allow her to pass through restricted areas, as well as charm gentlemen to grant her a degree of social stealth. The second guise, the slave persona, grants Aveline the ability to blend in with the slaves of New Orleans, also allowing her access to otherwise restricted areas. The third is Avelineís Assassin guise, which does not need much explanation other than this is where Aveline is her most deadly. Each persona has their own notoriety level, as well as their own methods for lowering it that adds a degree of variety to the game, and each persona obtains notoriety at different rates. But while each persona has their own advantages, they also have minor disadvantages. The lady persona may gain notoriety very slowly, but it cannot run very fast, cannot free run, and only has access to hidden blades, a parasol blow gun, and a small pistol (which Aveline must purchase). The Assassin persona has full access to all weapons and abilities, but is also permanently set to notoriety level one (out of four), which means that guards will always notice this persona, and it is much easier to gain notoriety in this persona. The slave persona is kind of a blend of the two, with access to more weapons than the lady persona and gains notoriety a bit faster than it as well. The slave and lady personas also have much less health than the Assassin persona as well. The persona system gives Liberation a surprising degree of uniqueness, and offers multiple ways to play some missions where only one persona is allowed. However, this feature falls short a bit due to the fact that most players, myself included, will not see much use in sneaking around as the slave or lady when it is much more fun to just charge in as the Assassin and lay waste to all in site. But for those that wish to be more stealthy and creative, the other two personas can be quite fun.

    Combat is pretty simple, remaining rather similar to Assassinís Creed III. The key difference is the different approaches and weaknesses inherent with the personas (you really do not want to be caught in a battle in the dress of the lady persona), as well as new weapons. While they were new for me in my review of Black Flag, this is the first game where you can use blow darts. These darts are useful for stealthy kills, and can be used by all three personas, albeit in different ways. The slave and Assassin persona utilize a regular blow gun, the use of which in the open will quickly catch the attention of guards if they spot you using it. The lady persona has access to a far stealthier parasol blow gun that can be used in sight of guards without arousing suspicion. Slightly different from Black Flag is the type of darts employed, consisting of a fast-killing dart that kills enemies within seconds, and a berserk dart (also used in Black Flag) that makes enemies go insane and start killing their allies. Either way the enemy goes down. Aveline also has access to a new weapon in the whip, acquired during a mission. Utilizing the whip, Aveline can strangle people from rooftops or other high surfaces, similar to the rope darts, but without the need for falling to the ground to string them up. The whip also allows Aveline to essentially grab onto someone from a distance and pull them to her, either to knock them out or pull them to the ground. Itís a useful tool for dealing with difficult enemies, and also allows Aveline to swing across gaps should the need arise if the environment is appropriate. Finally, the HD version retains the chain kill mechanic from Vita that is essentially a way to quickly kill several guards by essentially pausing the game and selecting them, then executing them in quick succession. Avelineís style and mechanics of combat is unique, but does present some minor annoyances. For one, Aveline does have her own unique fighting animations within regards to her use of the sword and hidden blades, but she shares animations with Connor and his use of the tomahawk when she uses her machete. This is more distracting than anything, as that style seems quite out of place for her, and comes across as kind of lazy by Ubisoft. In addition, the AI is rather easy to beat (a problem with all games utilizing the AnvilNext engine, it seems), and the chain kill, despite needing to recharge after use, can make combat even easier. Thankfully, it is simple to avoid using it; in fact, I forgot about it entirely after the tutorial. But one big plus that I have to mention is that unlike Assassinís Creed III and Black Flag, the use of double counters is quite often in this game, and while it makes dealing with enemies a bit easier, the animations are quite fun to watch, and nice to finally be able to use them after only doing it a handful of times with Connor and maybe twice with Edward.

    The missions and story are kind of a mix for me. The missions are rather straightforward and easy, with some only needing a few minutes to complete. Many of them are quite fun, and suit the locations and story of Aveline quite nicely. The side missions are also quite a bit of fun, with each persona having their own set of side missions that involve a large degree of variety. The game does suffer a bit from the old formula of missions, but otherwise the missions are different enough to ensure that the experience is still fresh. Where the game falls a bit short in this regard is the story. The story is often a bit convoluted, and seems a bit rushed despite its relatively focused plot. The story of Aveline is quite frustrating in that you start the game playing Aveline as a child whose mother disappears suddenly, and then fast forwards you fifteen years or so to Aveline as an Assassin. There is little to no explanation as to how she got there, how she met her mentor Agate, or anything of the sort. After seeing the nice degree of development for Ezio, Connor, Edward, and even Adťwalť in their path into the Assassin order, Avelineís rushed transition feels hollow and rather boring. The nature of the game, which is a product of Abstergo Entertainment in-universe, also adds to the frustrating nature of the game by having only part of the story told, the nature of the Templar-run business censoring the more controversial aspects of their predecessors who met their end at the hands of Aveline, as well as other scenes that are changed in order to make it seem like the Templars are at best ambiguous. The issue comes when a mysterious entity known as CitizenE hacks the game in order to show you, the player of the in-universe game, the ďrealĒ story by showing you uncut events that Aveline experiences that show the Templars for what they really are. It is a different mechanic for sure, and makes the game a unique experience, but the fact that you must search for some of these CitizenE triggers yourself or come across them by accident can often lead to you finding out the uncut scene a long time after you actually experience the memory. It is quite confusing, and does not do the story any favors. The game also jumps through the years rather whimsically that leaves frustrating gaps in the story. The search for Avelineís mother is also kind of underwhelming, as is the story overall to some degree, but the game does have a rather interesting difference to the others. Throughout Avelineís journey, she seems to grow somewhat disillusioned with her Creed, a first in the franchise. This does lead to some interesting developments, but like much of the game and its features, feels rather underused by the end. Additionally, the HD version offers fifteen new missions. These missions are not main missions, unfortunately, but persona specific side missions that were not present in the Vita version. The Connor mission, advertised as the connection between Assassin's Creed III and Liberation, was also rather annoying in that Connor and the mission itself was a rather boring aspect of the game, despite its incredible importance to the story. It's also possible to play as Connor in that mission if you spend the Uplay points, but he looks and acts different compared to his ACIII appearance: he looks like a beta version, and does not even have his own animations, instead sharing them with Aveline. Overall, the story was rather rushed: Avelineís main quest for the Templar agent known as the Company Man felt kind of like an afterthought overall, as did its resolution. In addition, a lot of the game was running from cut scene to cut scene, awkward transitions, and other issues that just made the gameplay a little awkward at times.

    The game does have other, more minor things that should be discussed. The game, while somewhat nice looking, does suffer from its Vita origins. Its status as an HD remake is certainly justified in comparison to its Vita version from the little I have seen, but it is simply not as nice looking as the other AnvilNext-era games (III and Black Flag). Part of this is certainly its origins as a hand held game, but Ubisoft did not take the opportunity in this release to really make the game look and feel like a console or PC release. It just feels and looks like a slightly reworked port. Another small gripe is the use of sort of ďbubblesĒ that are used as sort of a way to point things out to the player (such as a waypoints) that are kind of immersion breaking, though not a huge deal. Additionally, the games had an annoying issue where tutorial messages continued to pop up even late in the game, and were entirely redundant by that point. In addition to this, the voice acting and other audio-related things suffer from glitches and really poor synching of the voices and the faces. It does not help that the music and ambient sounds also suffer with sounds often coming late, and music really not being present or obvious. Also not helping is the rather poor scripting, which really makes the already bad voice acting stand out. The gameplay also suffers from a lack of places to really explore, despite the nice size of both New Orleans and the Bayou maps. There are few secrets to discover, and compared to the predecessors, relatively little to do. Finally, though many of the features unique to this game are fun, they are tragically underutilized, especially taking on different guises. In some of the missions where you are forced into a certain guise, it can certainly feel like a restriction rather than a thoughtful look into subverting the issues such as race and sex. This is not necessarily a huge problem for someone like me because I typically do not care about such things in games, but since that seems to be the point of the system, it just does not seem to have been implemented well.

    However, perhaps I am being unfair. If I was playing this on the Vita, it would be easy to say that these issues are just a result of the small-scope of the game; everything had to fit under a certain amount of memory, and this does hurt the game a bit. Despite its small size, there are certainly things to do and collect, with a fair amount of side activities to keep you occupied. The trade system is a bit of fun, consisting of buying and sending ships to different ports to trade. The collectibles and side missions are also kind of fun to do. The soundtrack, when it works, is also quite good, and really stands out even when on its own. The main theme in particular is one of my favorites (this is usually the case with this franchise, though, so perhaps I am a bit biased). Maybe I am giving it a pass because of its origins, but the game, despite its limitations and issues, is still a good one.

    Overall, Assassinís Creed Liberation HD is not your ordinary Assassin's Creed game. There is really no ďpresent dayĒ element to it, which some will consider as a good thing, while others consider it bad. Avelineís story is unique and rather emotional, as she is a woman torn between two worlds as she tries to live both a normal life and one as an Assassin. The overall plot device of the First Civilization does make an appearance, but is rather underplayed, again could be either good or bad depending on your preferences. Where this game does unfortunately stumble is that many of the rather cool elements and the opportunities presented with them are squandered. This game had the potential to be a great game with its setting, story, and mechanics, but just did not live up to that potential. It is unfortunate, because I believe that if this game had been given the care and development that was given to the likes of Assassinís Creed III and Black Flag, this could have been an amazing game. Instead, it was delegated to a minor Ubisoft studio, and released initially as a Vita game. And even more unfortunately, it seems like Ubisoft did not take the opportunity with this HD release to drastically improve on the game. Minor issues remain, but are otherwise not game breaking. While it does seem like I am being quite critical of this game, this game is actually quite fun. In fact, I cannot think of a single moment in the game where I was not enjoying myself. This game is not an important or must play game in regards to the whole franchise, but I do not regret buying it at all. It was an enjoyable experience, and I hope to see its mechanics added and improved on in another game. Aveline is a likable character, and definitely an intriguing one. It is just a shame that her spot in the overall story is squandered by not taking advantage of the opportunities presented.


    Assassin's Creed Liberation HD PS Vita Review
    AC Liberation HD PS Vita Review
    AC Liberation HD PS Vita Review

    Assassin's Creed III Liberation [Vita] (2012)

    Short Vita Version Review
    So I have had a chance to play the Vita version of the game, and I have to say it has given me a whole new fondness for the HD upgrade. I have been playing both free roam as well as the missions. Results were mixed.

    On the one hand, the game play and mechanics take full advantage of the Vita's capabilities. Using the touch screen, you can select the weapon menu and the map by simply touching the appropriate part of the screen, and then using your fingers to do whatever you wish on those menus. You can also use the touchscreen to specifically target the people you want with your ranged weapons, allowing you significantly more freedom in doing so that previous titles. You can also use the free aim mechanic as well, but the touch screen is a bit faster though will take some getting used to.

    On the downside, the game suffers from various issues. Glitches run amok throughout the free roam and the missions. None of them are horribly game breaking, but do detract noticeably from the experience. These glitches range from minor audio issues such as disappearing or off synch sound effects during combat as well as disappearing music and sounds varying greatly in volume, as well as more serious glitches such as invisible barriers where there should be none. One notable example of this is I literally tried running up nothing but air in one mission when I was about three feet or so away from anything that is climbable. The pop in issues concerning civilians and soldiers is also much more prevalent in the Vita version, leading to people appearing to materialize right next to you, which can be incredibly frustrating with guards. Related to this is the fact that often the minimap will show enemies where there are none. There is also one really notable glitch involving civilian NPCs; sometimes, a weird one pops up that acts more like a sprite than a model, walking strangely and sometimes disappearing into walls. No explanation at all for that sort of behavior, and quite immersion breaking. Dialogue also completely disappears at some points in missions, leading the player to rely on using subtitles when it should not be necessary. There are also some problems with the combat, notably Aveline never using combos appropriately or fully, and in other cases the mechanics do not fully work when they should. The touchscreen mechanics, while useful and natural in some cases, are gimmicky in others, such as using both the front and back touchscreens for opening letters, or utilizing the back screen for rowing the canoes. The game also uses the Vita's cameras in order to help Aveline decipher letters, which require the Vita to be held towards a light, which is rather gimmicky, unnecessary, and rather difficult to do if one is playing the game in the dark. The world also is significantly less detailed than any other game, including the very first Assassin's Creed game. I examined several locations and compared between the two versions and I found significantly more detailed elements in the HD upgrade than in the Vita version, making the Vita game much less beautiful and far less fun to look at. I suppose this is to be expected; after all, the Vita is not even close to the power of a console or PC. What IS strange, however, is the fact that this version of the game actually contains a form of weather effects; sequence three entirely takes place in the middle of a storm. This storm as well as weather in general is completely absent from the HD version of the game, which in all honesty does not make sense when you really start to think about it.

    Overall, the Vita game is a disappointment. Yes, I played the HD version first, so perhaps it is unfair. Playing the Vita game has given me new appreciation for the HD remake, and further convinces me that the game had a lot of potential but since it was developed as a handheld this potential was never realized. Still, as a handheld game, it is not terrible, but it is not very good either. However, if Ubisoft can learn and improve from the experience of this game, Assassin's Creed Liberation could indeed be a good starting point for a fantastic series of spin off games for handhelds.


    List of Contributors/Other
    List of Contributors
    Confederate Jeb - Editor/Writer
    - New ranking system! This is mostly for the purposes of scaling back the whole "score creep" issue.

    10 - Masterpiece: May not be perfect, but as good as it gets. Highly Recommended. Why haven't you bought this?
    9 - Great: Only a few things hold this back from "all-time" lists. Highly Recommended.
    8 - Very Good: A quality game. Highly Recommended.
    7 - Good: A solid game, but may not be enjoyable for everyone. Recommended.
    6 - Fine: The good outweighs the bad, but only just so. Recommended with asterisks.
    5 - Average: Remarkably average. Only a strong love for the genre/franchise would merit a purchase.
    4 - Bad: Mediocre; the bad outweighs the good, but only just so. Not recommended.
    3 - Very Bad: The only value here is "so bad it's good." Not recommended.
    2 - Horrible: Past the point of "so bad it's good." Highly not recommended.
    1 - Appaling, Atrocious, and Asinine: E.T. now has company. I pity those who bought this. I hope I got this for free...

    SturmChurro - Writer

    Manco - Writer

    Mhaedros - Writer

    IlluminatiRex - Writer

    Leonidas the Lion - Video Content Master

    Gen. Chris - Writer