X360A Review: Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington - The Infamy
Written Tuesday, February 19, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Remember that old Saturday morning cartoon, Brave Starr? Eyes of a hawk, speed of a puma, strength of a bear, ears of a wolf? Sure you do. Whether you do or you don't remember Brave Starr, we're willing to bet that someone, somewhere at Ubisoft Quebec definitely does, because it's those same kind of animal powers that are at the core of Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington.
For the uninitiated, The Tyranny of King Washington is a three-episode DLC that abandons the established Assassin's Creed III timeline in favour of an alternate reality in which George Washington acquires the ubiquitous Apple of Eden, becomes corrupted by the glowing orb of power, and is driven mad by said power. As a result, he crowns himself king, goes around burning villages and oppressing the people. He's not the American icon we all know and love. He's actually a bit of a shit.
With episode one, entitled 'The Infamy', we find Connor – known only by his original Native American name of Ratonhnhaké:ton – waking up in the Frontier, where all is not what it seems. “This is all wrong,” he exclaims in worried tones, before venturing to his home village to talk with the Clan Mother. It soon becomes clear that Connor - dressed in his badass wolfskin – needs to acquire powers to take on Washington, after surviving an altercation with the big cheese. Getting past that Apple won't be easy, but there's power to be gained from the virgin boughs of the Great Willow tree.
And so, Connor sets about acquiring said boughs to get himself juiced up for the fight that awaits him, starting with the Wolf Cloak and the faithful wolf pack that you can summon to help you take down multiple foes. By the end of the three-episode story arc, Ratonhnhaké:ton will have acquired the Power of the Eagle and Power of the Bear to complement his wolf powers, but episode one is designed purely with the Wolf Cloak in mind, and so you can't retroactively go back to it with your full set of powers. Yet even with this single power, the way in which you approach playing Assassin's Creed III is altered somewhat, as the cloak enables you to render Ratonhnhaké:ton invisible for as long as his health meter will allow (it runs down as you use your powers, but replenishes almost instantly when you turn them off).
Summoning your wolf pack works exactly in the same way as calling in your brotherhood of assassins, conjuring invisible wolves from the spirit world to rip out the throats of your enemies, it's all part of Connor's repertoire in The Infamy, proving to be invaluable tools as you zero in on Washington and his cronies, who also happen to be recognisable, high-profile faces from the annals of American history.
For the most part, The Infamy is familiar Assassin's Creed fare, with an eavesdrop mission chucked in, some stabby fighting action to engage in and more than a bit of stealth for you to flex your new powers. You can still attempt to 100% sync each mission, and there's still a portion of the game's open-world to explore. For The Infamy, you're given half of the Frontier to roam, with key locations dotted around the map transformed by King Washington's cruel and oppressive reign. There are starving people begging for food who you can feed with animal meat from your hunts, civilians to rescue and convoys carrying prisoners to intercept. These are the side missions you can tackle between the DLC's story chapters, and there's a fair few new activities to complete.
For those wanting a little more insight to the narrative, there's a also a few memory fragments to unearth that when pieced together, provide a video that sheds a bit more light on the nature of the alternate reality in which Connor finds himself. In this first episode, you'll discover that there's apparently more to it all than meets the eye, driving you forward through the story while offering a few tantalising hints at what we're hoping will be a killer twist in the tale. Of course, we won't really know how it all pans out until the final episode.
From a narrative perspective, you'll find that as the first episode, The Infamy does a lot of setting up the alternate reality, getting you up to speed with what's happened to America since the Revolution ended, so don't expect any major payoffs until the later episodes. Yet as a first episode, The Infamy does a fine job in making you want more, while providing enough to satisfy your desire for more single-player Assassin's Creed III. Credit has to go to Ubisoft too for trying something a little different, with the powers providing new gameplay opportunities that you simply wouldn't find in the main game itself.
As a single-player DLC, the first episode of Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington ticks all of the right boxes, providing more open-world exploration, plenty of combat, some new and exciting gameplay mechanics, and an intriguing set of story events that lead up to an inevitable cliffhanger ahead of episode two. Be warned: if you play through and finish episode one, you'll definitely want to see it all through to the end. And this version of Ratonhnhake:ton is an imposing badass in his wolfskin duds and war paint. With all these ingredients, The Infamy proves to be an interesting and enjoyable chunk of DLC, and one well worth checking out.