The Assassin’s Creed series is going through some significant changes for its third numbered title. The gameplay is evolving, the setting is changing completely, and for the first time a full length spin-off adventure will be making its way to the PlayStation Vita in the form of Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation.

Liberation, as revealed during Sony’s E3 press conference, is a completely separate story from its console counterpart. Aveline is the first female assassin and her journey takes place alongside Connor’s, halfway across the country in New Orleans, Louisiana. Many of the additions of Assassin’s Creed 3 are making their way to the portable game, such as the enhanced combat system, but Ubisoft wants to make sure Liberation stands out as a unique product for the Vita.

The city of New Orleans will be completely explorable, with scalable buildings and trees to leap from as Aveline hunts down her targets. Between missions, side quests and small objectives will be available within the city to keep the exploration fresh and give players a reason to run around the streets. Too much commotion will alert the guards, so blending in with the crowd is as important as ever. In other words, this is a full Assassin’s Creed game.

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What differentiates it is Ubisoft’s focus on making Liberation the best portable experience it can be. Many of the recent Vita releases have demonstrated the amazing graphical capability and processing power of the system, but they have neglected to take advantage of the fact that the Vita is built for on-the-go gaming.

The way Ubisoft plans on making Liberation work for the Vita is by shortening the mission length significantly. Rather than task the player with long treks across the city or multiple step assassinations, the missions will be closer to five minutes long on average. This will give gamers the opportunity to finish a mission or two without having to sit down and make any serious time commitments to the game.

One of the missions shown in the preview tasked Aveline with saving several townsfolk who had been trapped by the British inside a small building. She fought the first few baddies head on, which allowed the developer to demonstrate the revamped combat. The button mashing of the previous games has transformed into what the developer described as a rhythm game. Wailing on attackers will not be a successful strategy – countering and blocking are vital for survival.

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After besting the first group of Brits, Aveline scaled a staircase to come at the remaining soldiers from the side, allowing her to assassinate them before they could fight back. The civilians escaped, a short cutscene played, and the mission was completed. By providing players with bite-sized events, Ubisoft hopes to create a game made for taking on a commute or a flight.

Another unique feature to Liberation is an assassination meter that builds up throughout the game. Near the beginning of the demo, Aveline jumped off a roof and took out two soldiers in a group of seven. As she stood up, the game froze and the screen turned black and white. Sword icons appeared above each of the five remaining soldiers. The developer pointed out that four bars were filled in the assassination meter as he clicked on four of the sword icons above the five enemies. After confirming those kills by tapping the icons on the touch screen, a short cutscene played in which Aveline assassinated each enemy in turn, leaving only one left to fight.

From what I understand, this feature can be turned off, or at least avoided, for those that would rather fight large groups of enemies. This is just one more way Ubisoft is speeding up the Assassin’s Creed experience for the Vita.

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Fighting and climbing are not the only actions Aveline takes part in. Another mission had the assassin racing through the streets on a stolen, horse-drawn carriage, avoiding obstacles with the joysticks while tapping the screen to speed up the horse. Varied missions like this break up the action while also giving the touch screen a purpose.

The developer ended the demo by running around the open city, climbing to a high perch in order to show off the scope of Liberation‘s world. Although seemingly not quite as expansive as Venice and Florence, New Orleans was quite a sight to behold. Of course, much like in the console titles, there is a lot to see outside the city as well.

The demo only scratched the surface of what Liberation has to offer if the 15-20 hour length is indeed the potential playtime. The Assassin’s Creed 3 Wii U preview┬ásurprised us with how well Ubisoft has translated the series to a previously untouched platform, and this Vita title follows suit.

Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation will be released exclusively for the Vita.

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