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History often seems lightyears away, doesn't it? Even game franchises like Civilization-where you zip from ancient Rome to space flight in the span of hours-put a layer of abstraction over the experience that make it feel distant. The Assassin's Creed games use history exceedingly well, but none of them have felt as personal as Assassin's Creed III: Liberation does. As a black man and parent of a bi-racial daughter, this game hits home for me. But what really surprised me is how this portable Assassin's Creed game comments on racial dynamics in a specific moment in time. You can feel history moving through the game.

Liberation proves that game design inspiration can be found in the ugliest moments of history. But American history doesn't just inspire the mechanics and rules of Liberation's gameplay. The game's story and characters feel more alive thanks to a smart infusion of tropes drawn from the history of black people in the United States. I'm going to point out few examples, some of which contain spoilers. If you want a fresh experience with Liberation's plot, stop reading now.

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Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away the only black man in the universe was Lando Calrissian a “Card player, gambler and scoundrel”. The only Asian People in comics were Kung-Fu masters and the only person of color you could play in a video game was a cheap knock-off of Mike Tyson. The sci-fi/comic/fantasy genre has come a long way over the last few years, with minorities taking on more (while still occasionally problematic) roles across the mediums. Unfortunately the one area that hasn’t seen much progress is the gaming world. I had hoped that Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation the first video game to ever feature a minority woman as a main playable character was a sign of progress, instead it was one of the most offensive and blatant examples of just how little things have changed in the gaming world.

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Push Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
You can’t fault Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation’s ambition. Ubisoft Sofia’s sprawling PlayStation Vita exclusive not only faithfully repurposes the free-roaming elimination escapades of its console counterparts, but through the corrupt recollections of mysterious protagonist Aveline de Grandpré it also attempts to imbue the franchise with something new. Frustratingly, a lot of the spin-off’s most fascinating ideas are unfathomable at the best of times.

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Since its announcement in mid-June at E3 2012, “Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation” has been a game to watch. Developed by Bulgarian offset, Ubisoft Sofia (Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, Prince of Persia Classic), “Liberation” is the second handheld Assassin’s Creed game exclusive for a PlayStation system --- the first being 2009’s “Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines” developed by Griptonite Games --- that looks to replicate the console experience of the yearly franchise that began in 2007.

weber_dubois22: (Aliens)
[personal profile] weber_dubois22 Steve’s Game of the Week: "Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
I’ve been playing an awful lot of Assassin’s Creed this week. No, I don’t mean that Assassin’s Creed game, I mean Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation (although I’ve been playing that other one, too).

Regardless of what you think of the Vita, Liberation is without a doubt the truest Assassin’s Creed game on any portable gaming device. Perhaps it’s too close to its console counterpart, in fact, as most of the issues I’ve been having with the game seem to be apparently in AC3 Standard as well.

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Assassin's Creed 3 Liberation

November 2013


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