Aveline de Grandpré burst onto the scene and into the hearts of gamers in “Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation”, and though she doesn’t figure into the main storyline of “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” (out everywhere Oct. 29), those who purchase the game for PlayStation will be treated to three missions featuring the feisty, freerunning femme fatale. Needless to say, beware ye who read beyond, there be spoilers here.
The three-part romp begins quite in medias rae. From the word go, players find themselves as Aveline in the middle of an uncertain, but lush, locale and immediately beset by a voiceover bidding them find a slave by the name of Patience Gibbs and convince her to consider joining the ranks of the Assassin Order.
But because in video games, as in life, nothing can ever be so simple as finding and talking to someone in a vaguely described area of unfamiliar territory, it quickly becomes transparent that Patience is in this area because she has been taken captive. So it follows that Aveline must dismantle the troops who have taken them captive, free the slaves in order to find Patience and win her loyalty and trust by assassinating a Templar doctor named Edmond Judge and recovering from him a mysterious artifact that Patience holds dear.
The missions play through swiftly, but pack in an incredible amount of action for their relative brevity. As is the want of the “Assassin’s Creed” world, players can go through these missions entirely their own way, playing it quiet or abandoning all pretext and going in loud and nasty. Aveline is more than capable of stealth, but being the firecracker of a gal that she is can admirably throw a beating to any number of armed men that want to try their luck. So, whether your style be assassinations, throwing knives and stalking bushes, or pistol-blasting, machete-swinging mayhem, you’ll find ample opportunity to strut your stuff.
The terrain and fort that Aveline must navigate in her quest for Patience are strikingly well-rendered and offer plenty of freerunning and climbing opportunities and challenges. For the most part her freerunning and combat controls are intuitive, but there are a few moments in which an action that feels as if it should follow fluidly requires some rhythm-jarring button mashing–i.e. having to manually instigate climbing up onto a platform after making a jump while freerunning. Though logic suggests that the action is not automatic for stealth purposes, the slight slow down this causes has the potential to lend an amount of exasperation during chase sequences.
Still, this is but a minor gripe in a wholly engaging and entertaining experience. The double x-chromosome wielding among us will particularly enjoy a return to kicking a** and taking names as Aveline, a genuinely powerhouse female character who isn’t squandered by unnecessarily overt sexuality.
All together now, show of hands if you want to see her return again and again. Good call, we do too.