Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy Review for PC

Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy Review for PC

The Path Washington Didn’t Take

Ubisoft has already confirmed that the next Assassin’s Creed will leave Connor and the American Revolution behind. But for those of us who wouldn’t mind spending more time in the world of ACIII, there’s The Tyranny of King Washington, a new DLC series whose three installments will be released on a monthly schedule. Each episode will cost $10; the season pass is $30 and includes some smaller DLC packs in addition to the Tyranny trilogy.

It’s not clear what Tyranny is, exactly. Whereas most Assassin’s Creed games purport to explain what really happened behind the major events of history, Tyranny goes off the timeline entirely. In the first episode, Connor wakes up, meets his mother (who was supposed to be dead), and discovers that George Washington has become king. Corrupted by the Apple of Eden, King Washington has launched a brutal campaign to enslave American Indians.

Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy Screenshot

We don’t know if this is some kind of dream, or an Animus glitch, or a drug trip, or what. In fact, outside of the pause menu, the post-mission summaries of how well you “synchronized,” and a bizarre alternative-reality sequence, we don’t see much evidence of the Animus at all. Desmond, the series’ modern-day protagonist, does not appear.

But at any rate, breaking off from the timeline—and away from the Brotherhood, as Connor is not a member in this timeline—allows the developers to let their hair down a bit, ditching many of the franchise’s major features in favor of something more experimental. Most interestingly, the game takes up the role of animals in American Indian culture, and Connor is given a special relationship to wolves. Apparently he will gain other animal powers over the course of the next two episodes.

Much as other Assassin games let you call on Brotherhood members to help you out, here you can summon a wolf pack to join the fight. But more dramatically, you can use a wolf stealth ability. Much like cloaking in Crysis, it allows you to walk right past enemies unnoticed, but its use is very limited. (Here it drains your health instead of a separate energy bar.) To complicate matters still further—and to keep the game from getting too easy—the enemies in Tyranny often bring dogs along, and dogs can sniff right through your disguise.

Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy Screenshot

All of this works out just fine. As in Crysis, the way to do stealth in Tyranny is to turn on your cloak, move from one hiding place to the next, and then turn it off to recharge. Of course, the presence of dogs makes it tougher; you’ll need to bait them if you want to stay undetected, which is required for one of this episode’s biggest missions. If you get into a fight, it’s handled the same way it was before—the same old enemy types are present, and they require the same old tactics. (For the big guys with backpacks, you need to break their guard before attacking, and some of the other enemies require you to counter and disarm them.)

But it’s hard to finish the first episode without getting a feeling of “That’s it?” All three episodes combined are expected to add just seven hours of gameplay, and the DLC seems to eschew the series’ open world roots. Sure, there’s plenty of treasure scattered around the map, and there are a few randomly occurring side quests (attack the convoys carrying captured American Indians, help starving civilians), but the overall sense of progress and scope is just gone completely.

Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy Screenshot

To me, Assassin’s Creed has always been about starting small and building up a resistance movement until you control a huge city, and it doesn’t seem that Tyranny will provide that experience. At least in this first episode, it’s more of a linear storyline that plays out on big maps. You don’t need to sync viewpoints either—another sign of the Animus that’s missing—which makes the series’ signature climbing mechanics much less important.

Also, this first episode can feel more like a teaser than like a meaty chunk of the story. We hardly see George Washington at all; instead, the plot focuses on Connor’s effort to drink a tea that gives him wolf powers, and then on Israel Putnam and Benedict Arnold. I really hope the next two installments are bigger in every sense of the word. The ending here doesn’t give many hints—as we leave Connor, he’s heading to a completely new territory, and anything could happen there.

Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy Screenshot

Meanwhile, as is standard for DLC, the basics haven’t changed. The wolf powers are simply integrated into the preexisting control scheme, the graphics still look fantastic, and the voice acting and music are up to the series’ standards. Playing on the PC, I didn’t notice any obvious lack of polish—Ubisoft treated this release with the care it deserves.

Bottom line: The Tyranny of King Washington’s first episode will set you back $10, it lasts only a couple of hours, and it provides an interesting twist on the Assassin’s Creed III experience. There are new mechanics and a storyline unlike anything the series has done before—but the game also lacks some basic Assassin’s Creed features, most importantly the experience of taking over a gigantic territory. Whether the first episode is a good buy will depend on where the next two go—if this installment sets up a fantastic tale, it’s easily worth it, but if the next two sections are similarly slight, it could be a bust.

And so, we wait.

ACIII’s graphics were great, and the DLC continues that trend. 3.8 Control
The still-somewhat-clunky climbing controls from ACIII return, but there isn’t much climbing here. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
They’re up to series standards. 3.2 Play Value
This first episode leaves you with a feeling of “That’s it?” 3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • George Washington, blinded by a thirst for unlimited power, has declared himself king.
  • Connor awakes in this reality as Ratonhnhaké:ton – never having joined the Assassin order – and accepts a new mission to take Washington down.
  • Acquire all-new skills to fend off this new threat to freedom.
  • Live history as it never happened, and ignite a new revolution!

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