THIS TOOK GUTS

Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation more closely resembles its bigger, better cousins on consoles than any past portable spin-off, but its narrative structure is hugely different. There is no present-day frame in Liberation; not in any real sense, at least. The experience is presented as a simulation in Abstergo's newly commercialized Animus, a machine that lets you relive your ancestors' memories. But despite the fact that Aveline, the series' new protagonist, is an Assassin, most references to the Brotherhood and its rival Templars have been "censored" out by Abstergo, the public face of the modern-day evildoers.

So what we're left with is a sporadically interesting and often poorly-told tale about a free black woman helping slaves and killing lot of people in 18th century New Orleans. The game begins with a dream-like sequence showing a young Aveline being separated from her mother and set upon by attackers, then jumps ahead in time to a point at which she's already become an Assassin. A lot happens in between, and though much is revealed here and there throughout the game, it still feels like a huge chunk of the story is missing.

In Liberation's favor, I can't think of many games that star black females or deal so directly with serious topics like slavery. But compared to Assassin's Creed 3, which spends its first five hours just setting up the main character, Liberation can feel downright sloppy at times.

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