THE LITTLE THINGS
When Liberation lets you play it like an Assassin's Creed game, free-running and sneaking around and killing Templars from above, it feels like the game that it should have been 100 percent of the time. Unfortunately, linear missions, awful AI, and some really strange design decisions prevent it from always feeling that great.
One late-game mission could have been challenging if it simply asked you to find a way to distract a nearby blacksmith. Instead, the mission goals become a linear checklist: Pick up that powder keg. Place it right there. Grab a musket. Shoot the keg. MISSION COMPLETE. On you go.
Let's talk about the "persona" system, the elephant you didn't even know was in the room. Aveline has three identities: Assassin, Slave, and Lady. They involve a change of clothes, equipment and abilities, and each has a separate notoriety meter (a "wanted level," in Grand Theft Auto terms). The Slave is a weak fighter, but can run and blend in easily with other slaves. The Lady's even worse in a fight, and can't free-run or jump, but can charm guards. The Assassin has it all, but enemies are automatically suspicious of her.
The first problem is that Aveline can only change personas in designated "dressing chambers," as if any haystack or nearby alley wouldn't work just as well. To compound this, many missions force you into one guise or another. I became stuck on a mission that required playing as the Lady when that persona's notoriety filled up so high that guards attacked her on sight, despite her pretty dress. Every time I turned a corner to kill another witness and reduce her notoriety, there was another pack of guards waiting to pounce. There's no running away as the Lady—she's too slow. So the only option was to fight, sending her notoriety skyrocketing back up. That was a frustrating hour or so.
A side note: besides tapping the screen to open the map and weapon selector, every "unique" PS Vita mechanic involving the gyroscope, camera or touch pad in Liberation is gimmicky and poorly implemented. Please stop doing this, developers.