Being a big Assassin’s Creed fan, I was disappointed when it was announced that Liberation was going to be a Vita exclusive. It sounded interesting, with its new protagonist and disguise system, but I didn’t want to buy a Vita just to play it. So I was pleased to hear that Liberation was going to be remade for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

The game follows Aveline de Grandpré, a young woman living in 18th century New Orleans, a few years into her career as an Assassin. Her father is a well-off French merchant, her mother a former slave. Aveline’s mixed heritage puts her in an odd position within society, allowing her to blend in amongst slaves and noblewomen alike. Using this to her advantage, Aveline embarks on a mission to free as many slaves as possible, as well as uncover a Templar plot.

She’s an endearing protagonist, intelligent and humorous. The fact that she begins the game a fully-trained Assassin is also good news, as the player isn’t subjected to long, dull tutorials. However, the game does feel rather short, with some later sequences containing only a couple of missions. Considering the game costs half as much as a “full” Assassin’s Creed game, this isn’t surprising, but it’s still underwhelming.

One of the most frustrating things about the game’s short length is that there are many parts of the story that are begging to be expanded upon. For example, Aveline’s relationship with her mentor Agaté becomes increasingly strained over the course of the game, but the significance of this is undermined by how little the player sees of their original relationship. The in-game database mentions that he saved her life when she was young, and it seems odd that this wasn’t even given a simple cutscene, especially given that the game opens with a flashback to her childhood.

Liberation mostly takes place within New Orleans and its nearby Bayou. The city is home to most of the shops where Aveline can purchase weapons and clothing from. There are also “dressing chambers” scattered around the city, which Aveline can purchase and use to change her persona (more on that later). The Bayou is more sparsely populated than the city, and can be explored through the tree-tops or with a canoe. It is home to hostile wildlife, which can be fought off through quicktime events. Throughout the world’s maps there are various treasure chests, collectibles, and side missions available for the player. Looking for these usually rewards the player with new shops or special outfits to purchase.

In terms of gameplay, Liberation plays much like the main games of the franchise. It provides all the running, climbing, and stabbing that players have come to expect from the series. Oddly some of the controls and mechanics differ from Black Flag, which was released a mere three months ago. The blow-pipe (a weapon the Vita Liberation introduced to the franchise), for instance, is controlled completely differently, which was jarring after only having just played Black Flag.

Eagle Vision, the ability Assassins use to highlight enemies, allies, and subjects of interest, has also been reduced in power. In Black Flag, players could use it to spot potential hiding places such as bushes. In Liberation, this function is gone. This made some of the night-time Bayou missions more frustrating, as it was difficult to differentiate between hiding spots and scenery.

Liberation’s biggest innovation is its persona system, in which the player can switch between three identities – Assassin, Lady, and Slave – by changing clothes. The Assassin persona is the best of the three, giving Aveline access to the full range of weapons, as well as a full health bar. It also allows her to climb and free-run. The downside is that guards notice her more quickly, making stealth in some areas much more difficult. The Lady person cannot climb or free-run, and has less weaponry and health. However, she can easily bypass guards by bribing and charming them, and she is rarely treated with suspicion. The Slave persona is as agile as the Assassin, but again with less health. Climbing in the Slave persona also accumulates notoriety more quickly, and it doesn’t take long for the city to be plastered in wanted posters. Like the Lady, the Slave persona is better suited to stealth, and has access to fewer weapons.

The addition, these personas do add some variety to gameplay, allowing the player to implement different degrees of stealth. Unfortunately, the game tends to force you into specific personas for most of the missions. It would have been more interesting had more of the missions allowed the player to take alternate paths depending on what persona they were in, and would have added to the game’s replay value.

The graphics of Liberation are good, but not great. Again, the game suffers from being released post-Black Flag, as it is visually a step backwards. This is particularly evident in cutscenes, where characters’ faces sometimes looked strangely blank. The game also fails to fully escape its handheld roots as important information is often provided through text boxes rather than dialogue and animation. Early in the game it is also evident that an escort mission from the original was choppily removed. I also experienced some minor glitches, such as markers failing to appear on the map, and animals attacking Aveline mid-mission. Nothing major, but frustrating nonetheless.

Overall, Liberation HD is an enjoyable, if flawed experience. The protagonist and persona system are interesting, and many of the gameplay elements players enjoy from the main series are still present. However, the game doesn’t live up to its potential, and I’d only recommend it to people who want to see more of the Assassin’s Creed universe while they wait for the next game’s announcement.

Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD is available via Steam, the Playstation Network, and Xbox Live Arcade. This review is based on the Xbox 360 version.

On May 2, 2016, J.K. Rowling commemorated the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts by apologizing for killing Lupin, and telling us that the Grim Reaper almost chose Arthur instead.

Father figures have always been an important aspect of the Harry Potter series, and Rowling always knew that a few of them (RIP Sirius, Dumbledore, Lupin) would have to be killed during the Chosen One’s seven-year journey. Interestingly, Rowling revealed this week that Lupin could’ve been alive today if it weren’t for the fact that Arthur Weasley made it through Order of the Phoenix. As the author explains it:

This is a hard pill to swallow, and the first time we’re explicitly hearing that Arthur living meant Lupin dying. So, we thought we should debate this topic. Did J.K. Rowling make the right choice when she chose to kill Remus Lupin over Arthur Weasley? We asked two of our writers to each defend a position.

Selina: Yes, killing Lupin was the right choice

arthur-weasley-and-harry-potter

Let’s journey back in time. The year is 2003, and you’ve been up for 72 hours straight, ploughing through the overwhelmingly long Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It’s been a bumpy ride, Harry’s fifth year being decidedly unpleasant, and you’re emotionally exhausted. Then you get to the Department of Mysteries, and here we are: Sirius is dead. Just like that, the man who could have been Harry’s adoptive father, his way out of the hellish Dursley household, is gone.

Now imagine you going through all that, except Arthur Weasley had also died in the middle of the book. You wouldn’t have been able to take it.

Ultimately we might argue that J.K. Rowling should just have kept them both alive, but at the end of the day, it was important for her to kill off one of the series’ two fathers, to achieve the symmetry of leaving a child without its parent(s) like Harry had been.

Not only did killing both Lupin and Tonks leave baby Teddy an orphan, perfectly mirroring Harry’s own experience, but it was also — arguably — an act of mercy to kill Lupin rather than Arthur. Teddy Lupin would still get to grow up with people who loved him, knowing that his parents died heroes, while Harry and the Weasleys (who’d already lost Fred) would get to keep their family intact. Considering the lengths J.K. Rowling went to to effectively end Harry’s childhood (killing Sirius, Dumbledore, and Hedwig), leaving both Weasley parents alive allowed us to end the series on a hopeful note. The parents don’t always have to die in order for the children to grow up.

I’m not glad that Lupin died. But if the choice was between him and Arthur, I think Jo made the right call. Knowing that Harry and his friends could still visit the Burrow after the Battle of Hogwarts — and that even if the place was a lot less bright without Fred, it still felt like a safe, loving home — is a great comfort, especially knowing how much Harry valued the Weasleys and the surrogate family they formed around him.

Laura: Killing Lupin was wrong, she sacrificed the last of the Marauders and the keys to the past

lupin-and-harry-potter

Let’s revise the top of this article, shall we? His name is Remus Lupin, not just Lupin, the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher that Harry and company ever had. Without Remus Lupin the trio would have been dead: no Expecto Patronum, no recognizing Bogarts, no practical experience with Grindylows, Red Caps, or Hinkypunks. Harry and every student in his year was left with a substandard skill set thanks to Quirrell and Lockhart. Without question, Remus Lupin laid the groundwork for the success that was later achieved by Dumbledore’s Army. He made up for lost time, in a positive and uplifting manner, and was the friendly guidance the students needed.

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and what better fictional teacher to appreciate than Remus Lupin. He never underestimated his students, he challenged them to do more than they ever thought possible. He didn’t just spend time with shining stars like Hermione, but he made time for people that no one else cared to. Would Neville Longbottom have ever had the confidence to succeed in leading Hogwarts without Harry, Ron, and Hermione without Remus Lupin having taken a personal interest? Every other teacher wrote Neville off as either incompetent, a fool, or both.

The one thing Remus Lupin provided to Harry that Arthur Wesley couldn’t was insight into Harry’s past. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on Arthur, but it’s not a role Arthur could ever fill. Remus Lupin could talk about James and Lily from first-hand experience: funny stories, hopes, sadness, all of it. Harry was left with no one to fill that role. There is an irreplaceable void in Harry’s life thanks to Remus’ death. Harry needed Remus.

Had Arthur died it would have been tragic, but his tightly bonded family would have had each other. His children were well grounded, knew who they were, and were ready to face the world. Arthur had done an amazing job raising them along with Molly. Remus didn’t have the chance to reach his fullest potential. Had Remus lived, he and Harry would have been new parents at relatively the same time. They would have progressed from a teacher/student relationship to just being friends. They would have watched their boys grow up together and been there for each other as parents in the post-war world.

Now it’s your turn! Vote in our poll and hit the comments to debate it

‘Wayward Pines’ season 2: What we know so far

Meet the cast of new and familiar faces.

11:00 am EDT, May 3, 2016

We’re still about three weeks away from the Wayward Pines season 2 premiere, but we’re now getting our first look at the largely new cast.

Wayward Pines season 2 will have a lot of new characters, as season 1 ended with the death of main character Ethan Burke, played by Matt Dillon, and saw the surviving adults placed back into suspended animation while the First Generation took over the town, which had become perhaps the last surviving hold of mankind in the year 4028.

Human civilization died out nearly 2,000 years earlier, and what remained mutated into carnivorous creatures called “Abbies” (short for “Aberrations”). A scientist named David Pilcher foresaw the calamity and created Wayward Pines as a sort of ark to preserve the human race with a select group of people — and whose children would become the first generation of Wayward Pines.

The new season will explore the First Generation’s “iron-fisted rule” of the town and the rebellion that follows.

Now we have our first promotional photos for season 2. First, the full cast promotional shot:

Wayward Pines season 2 group shot

Next, meet the main cast members:

Jason Patric as Dr. Theo Yedlin

Wayward Pines season 2 Theo Yedlin

Per Fox, Dr. Yedlin “awakens from suspended animation and finds himself in the middle of this rebellion, as he tries to understand what Wayward Pines really is and help preserve the endangered human race.”

Djimon Hounsou as CJ Mitchum

Wayward Pines season 2 CJ Mitchum

CJ is “an original resident of Wayward Pines and a historian for the town with extensive knowledge of its complex origins, and the one person who can provide a unique bridge between the current world of Wayward Pines and the previous world that humans inhabited.”

Hope Davis as Megan Fisher

Wayward Pines Megan Fisher

Megan Fisher was a major player in Wayward Pines season 1, using her skills as a hypnotherapist to head Wayward Pines Academy, which taught the First Generation. In season 2, per SpoilerTV, Megan “is in charge of the scientific research being conducted on the Abbies, and remains deeply involved in the development of the hearts and minds of the future of humanity—Wayward Pines’ ‘First Generation’.”

Tom Stevens as Jason Higgins

Wayward Pines Jason Higgins

Another character who appeared in season 1, Jason was a devoted follower of David Pilcher. He became the leader of the new Wayward Pines led by the First Generation. No doubt he will be the leader of one side of the civil war going on in Wayward Pines.

Nimrat Kaur as Rebecca Yedlin

Wayward Pines Rebecca Yedlin

Per EW, Rebecca is an accomplished architect and Theo’s wife. Shocking nobody, she “has her own secrets she keeps” from her husband.

Josh Helman as Xander Beck

Wayward Pines Xander Beck

Xander is described as “a self-assured charmer” who is “working from within to undermine Wayward Pines.” That’s a role that sounds familiar from season 1, as there was an underground rebellion working to discover the truth behind the town led by Ethan’s ex, Kate, and her husband.

Kacey Rohl as Kerry Campbell

Wayward Pines season 2 Kerry Campbell

Kerry is another member of the First Generation. She is both “a member of Jason Higgins’ brain trust” as well as “one of his most trusted advisors.” This sounds like the role Nurse Pam played for David Pilcher in season 1.

Besides Davis and Stevens, the following season 1 cast members will appear in season 2: Carla Gugino (Kate Hewson), Toby Jones (David Pilcher), Melissa Leo (Nurse Pam), Tim Griffin (Adam Hassler), Shannyn Sossamon (Theresa Burke), and Charlie Tahan (Ben Burke). Terrence Howard (Sheriff Pope) is also expected to appear.

Finally, have a still from the season 2 premiere, featuring Dr. Yedlin and a familiar face from season 1:

Wayward Pines season 2, episode 1 Kate, Theo

Wayward Pines season 2 premieres Wednesday, May 25 on Fox.

Will you watch ‘Wayward Pines’ season 2?

UnREAL season 2 is gonna be amazing, if this trailer is anything to go by.

We were blown away by the first season of UnREAL, the Lifetime drama tracking the inner workings of a The Bachelor-style reality show.

Full of awful people doing awful things, UnREAL had it all: Romance, intrigue, betrayal, death, and love. It unravels the mysticism of reality show culture (tl;dr: It’s all made up for ratings), while telling pretty compelling stories about selfish people.

In season 2, Rachel (Shiri Appleby) and Quinn (Constance Zimmer) are back for Everlasting‘s new season, with new bachelor Darius Hill (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s B.J. Britt) ready to win the hearts of the female contestants.

And if this trailer is any indication, this season is gonna be even wilder than the last:

Refreshingly, UnREAL doesn’t shy away from contentious, real-world issues. Having a black contestant is something The Bachelor itself has not yet managed to do, and of course, the reactions to that on the show are going to reflect both the good and bad parts of humanity.

Related: Why we need UnREAL‘s complicated feminism (opinion)

We’re hugely excited to see how UnREAL handles that, and of course to find out what exactly happened to Rachel after the season 1 finale — where, if you remember her scorned ex-lover Jeremy liaised with her mother to get her back on the medication which Rachel claimed ruined her life.

On the topic of life-ruiners, another returning player this year is last season’s bachelor Adam Cromwell (Freddie Stroma), whose whirlwind relationship with Rachel almost destroyed the lives of everyone involved with the reality show’s production.

Creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro have said there is some unfinished business between the pair, but we can’t exactly imagine them riding off into the sunset together!

‘UnREAL’ season 2 premieres Monday, June 6 on Lifetime