It’s not the first time an Assassin’s Creed game has received story-related downloadable content. It is, however, unique for it not to rely entirely on the events of an Assassin’s Creed main story branch. Instead, the Tyranny of King Washington plans to give players a new perspective of main character, Connor. Will this three part episodic format do wonders for the franchise, or is the idea simply a stretch too far?

Find out in our review of the first episode, The Infamy.

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release Date: Out Now
Format: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Version Tested: Xbox 360
Price: 800MSP / £7.99

Georgie-Porgie Pudding and Pie

It’s fair to say the introduction to the Tyranny of King Washington almost feels like a completely new Assassin’s Creed adventure. This new version of Ratonhnhaké:ton is a closer representation to a typical native American. It’s an interesting take on a character who mostly lost touch with his roots in the main Assassin’s Creed 3 story.

As the title suggests, Ratonhnhaké:ton is waging war against George Washington, who is cast as the main villain of the downloadable content. The DLC offers a fascinating new take, allowing players to see the different roles familiar characters take on. This version of Connor is much more confident, and while understandably confused, – and the only one really questioning what is going on – he is still willing to fight for what he believes in. Once players have adjusted, there are plenty of hints throughout the episode as to what’s happened and how this has all come about. There is even a tantalizing look at future episodes as The Infamy draws to a close.

The story is held together by various mission objectives the player must complete. Unlike Assassin’s Creed 3, there’s no need to spend time walking around an area to find the next objective. Everything is designed in such a timely manner, that there is barely a moment to spare when the player isn’t involved in tasks.

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It’s refreshing to see a bigger variety of mission objectives given to the player. Most of them are action focused with Ratonhnhaké:ton fighting his way through hordes of enemies. One objective, in particular, requires players to stop enemies from blowing up houses with people trapped inside. The episode always keeps itself interesting since all missions tend to have different objectives to complete.

Unfortunately, Ubisoft insist on having mission objectives where the player must follow a target without being discovered. As usual, being found will result in instant failure and force the player to restart from a checkpoint. It’s a rather frustrating game mechanic that doesn’t leave any room for mistakes. Another mission objective forces the player look for clues within a designated area. Yet, despite the confined space, the clues remain extremely difficult to find, and the whole task quickly becomes tedious.

An Assassin in Wolf’s Clothing

Fortunately, there are some clever new ideas implemented in The Infamy that change the way these missions play out. One consists of spirit powers that Ratonhnhaké:ton obtains after embarking on spirit journeys. These journeys begin once Ratonhnhaké:ton drinks some special tea that renders him unconscious. It’s seriously potent stuff! The spirit journeys require players to get through a series of challenges within an abstract Animus style environment. Trying to adjust to a new power is a surreal experience, at first, but it dramatically improves the way some missions are played.

The first spirit power Ratonhnhaké:ton obtains is based on a wolf’s ability to approach its prey without being discovered. Earning this powers changes how the latter half of The Infamy plays out. It’s possible for Ratonhnhaké:ton to cloak himself, and become invisible to enemies. The catch? It uses life force, so it’s best to only use this power when necessary. Ratonhnhaké:ton can also set a pack of wolves on enemies, which comes in handy when dealing with large groups.

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Of course, to balance things out, there are limitations in place to ensure this power doesn’t make the rest of this episode too easy. Tracking dogs have been introduced to ensure players don’t abuse the power. Ratonhnhaké:ton will need to take the dogs out quickly, else they’ll blow his cover. It should also go without saying that Ratonhnhaké:ton mustn’t bump into enemies when hidden from view.

The addition of the wolves power is a clever way to make stealth-based mission objectives less frustrating. It also compliments typical covering spots that players are used to. In fact, cover plays a more tactical role than ever and has become a perfect spot for players to recharge life force used up by the cloaking power. It’s certainly an unusual and unique addition to the series, but it makes for an even better experience in the long run.

As for the visuals, they’re pretty much the same as those found in the retail release of Assassin’s Creed 3. Naturally, it makes sense for the developers to take advantage of the large areas previously created in the game, and this downloadable content does exactly that. There are still a few new areas for players to explore, however. The abstract Animus style area where the wolf cloak is obtained comes to mind.

One of the main highlights of The Infamy is the superb new soundtrack that fits in with the downloadable content’s new direction. It feels just as conducive to the Native American background, as the main character’s personality change in this downloadable content.

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The future of DLC?

Sadly, it won’t take long to finish the main story missions. Most of the time is spent trying to get through the tougher mission objectives, but there are still plenty of optional missions to tackle, such as feeding starving people or freeing slaves found all over the Frontier. Also, in typical Assassin’s Creed style, the developers have included collectibles and plied them with incentives so players can fully understand what is going on in the DLC.

The Infamy is a strong opener to a trilogy, and it certainly has the potential to change how players perceive downloadable content. The Infamy isn’t just an expansion to the main story; in fact, there are several moments where it feels more like a stand alone title.

The Infamy is slightly spoiled by some questionable mission objective design, but the implementation of the wolf cloak power is highly effective in ensuring players feel better integrated whilst completing missions.

Either way, this is definitely a good start for the Tyranny of King Washington and a promising first episode to, what will hopefully be, a trilogy of high quality downloadable content.

Pros:

  • Fascinating new take on the story from Assassin’s Creed 3.
  • New power idea is successfully implemented and makes for a better experience.
  • Lots of action scenes to keep players busy.

Cons

  • Frustrating stealth based sections that insta-fail the player if found.
  • Other missions, such as one that involves looking for clues, aren’t clearly explained.
  • Minor issues with some of the other missions is off-putting.

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

A great start to the trilogy, but some frustrating mission mechanics let down an otherwise engaging experience