The first thing to know about Liberation is that it looks and sounds like a full Assassin’s Creed release. If the game had not been announced as a Vita title, I think I would have assumed it was going to be a console release, because it looks fantastic. The game is being built with the same engine as Assassin’s Creed III, and if they’ve scaled anything back graphically to fit the game on the smaller system, they’ve done an excellent job hiding it.

Our demo begins with Assassin’s Creed’s first female protagonist, Aveline, making her way across a series of roofs in New Orleans towards a gathering of Spanish soldiers in the middle of spat with some of the locals. The city is in the middle of an uprising against the Spanish. Spain was given Louisiana by France after the Revolutionary War, which doesn’t sit will with the residents of the state.

After jumping on a soldier from a rooftop, a fight breaks out. Combat looks like the defensive sword fighting seen in previous Assassins titles. The biggest change from the console versions of the game appears to be the new chain kill bar. Ubisoft said that the name of this new combat mechanic may change by the time Liberation releases, but chain kill bar is an apt description. After performing a number of assassinations, you have a charge bar that will fill allowing you to pause the game and physically tap your opponents on screen. After the game resumes, Aveline automatically chains a series of attacks together to kill everyone you tapped. If enemies are far away, Aveline uses her gun. If they are close, she uses her blade. It recalls a similar system that appeared in another Ubisoft game, Splinter Cell: Conviction, that allowed Sam Fisher to take out multiple enemies in quick succession.

After dispatching the enemies, Aveline moves onto a new section; driving a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of New Orleans. Her cargo is a series of explosive barrels. Enemies fire on Aveline setting her cargo on fire, so she has to rush to her destination in hopes that the barrels don’t explode before she can get where she needs to go. She has a specific location where she wants to the barrels to blow up, after all. To speed up the horses, you have to tap the side of the screen. I asked if you have to use the touch screen exclusively to snap the reigns, and Ubisoft said that it wants to give players the option to use either the touch screen or the buttons for those kinds of actions. At the moment, however, touch screen is the only option. The touch screen was also used to select and equip assorted items in your inventory. Ubisoft said it will likely incorporate the back touch panel in some way, but didn’t have anything to show off in the demo we were seeing.

Our demo ended with a quick romp around the city to see some of the sites. Aveline took a walk through Jackson Square, climbed St. Louis Cathedral, rotated the camera to take in the open city, and did the all too familiar jump into a hay bale below.

Assassin’s Creed III Liberation is coming to the Vita on October 30.