Now I’m not saying that the Assassin’s Creed series is a happy fluffy bunny kind of story, but the latest batch of DLC heading our way for Assassin’s Creed 3 takes a very dark turn, and I was fortunate to get the chance to play through the first chapter.
Welcome to the world of a “What if…“ story full of conflict, turmoil and a lot of dead bodies.
Split across three episodes – “The Infamy”, “The Betrayal”, and lastly “The Redemption” – we find ourselves delving into a world where George Washington has let power go to his head and the old adage “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” comes frighteningly to life.
Washington, instead of being the good man that the history books tell us, takes a shocking turn at the end of the revolution. The brave new world of America that Washington has fought so hard for needs a ruler, and that ruler is going to be him. The tale of King Washington is born… and of the man that will try to stop him.
The story initially starts off with some large and very intense set pieces introducing you to the chaos that has fallen upon the land under Washington’s boot.
Placing you in the role of Ratonhnhaké:ton, defending and protecting your people against the forces of Washington’s army is your mission, but you’re not going in empty handed. The trusty weapons from the main Assassin’s Creed game are at your disposal. But along with these there are some new tricks in your arsenal in the form of powers, a new one coming to your aid in each of the three installments.
The Wolf Cloak, Eagle Flight and Bear Might will be at your command. Yes, I know this sounds very similar to a certain kid’s cartoon series but believe me, there’s nothing about these or the setting that you’re in that should be making you think of sitting down with a bowl of cereal on a Saturday morning in your PJ’s – and you will quickly discover that they’re essential to your survival and the completion of your quest.
The Wolf cloak is your first port of call and the power that I got to play with. A quick tap of a button gives you an instant stealth power, allowing you to walk among your foes, listening to conversations and plotting the best way to take down the enemy and complete your objective. This power comes with a price though, your health is constantly being drained. Leave it too long and you’ll find yourself dropping out of this stealth mode with very little health. All well and good if you’re next to a handy hiding place that you can pop into to let your health recover, not so good if you’re in the middle of an army camp surrounded by troops who’s only mission is to turn you into a very dead person.
Careful managing of that power is required, and it will be one of your most useful assets. Along with the stealth aspect you’ll gain access to the wolf pack, as the name implies this is a pack of wolves that you can summon and use to attack soldiers and thin the numbers down before you dive in to mop up the leftovers. I should mention they’re also invisible, nothing strikes fear into the enemy like being savaged by an invisible wolf pack…
These powers will compliment your tomahawk and rope dart nicely, but your main weapon will still be your wits.
Which you’ll need about you for the task at hand. Although there are tribesmen (and women) to back you up, your shoulders are the ones that will bear the responsibility of defeating the mad king.
After spending a year in development, what’s presented to us is essentially a self contained story set within the the world of AC3 but not, if you see what I mean. Think of it as an homage to those episodes of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits that asked you to think on what if things had happened differently.
That year in production shows though, with everything looking crisp and sharp as you’d expect. Also a completely new score has been composed for it, which I urge you to pay attention to as it’s really rather good. In fact, the audio in general is fantastic, especially when experienced through a headset – I got carried away running through the snow for a couple of minutes just listening to the satisfying crunch underfoot. Wonderful stuff.
Fans of the series will not be disappointed. However, given the explorative nature of the AC games, they may be surprised by the length of this DLC. All three episodes together will probably set you back about 9hrs in total depending on your skill level.
Now to me this is a god send as it means I’m more likely to finish it. Heck, with all the releases that have been flying around, there are titles that came out before Christmas that I’ve yet to get around to playing!!
Don’t let the length put you off though. It may not be the longest of tales, but it’s a very satisfying one and this dark alternate version of the AC3 world is definitely one to add to your list of places visited.
The first episode of “The Tyranny of King Washington” – The Infamy – will be available tomorrow, February 19th, for Xbox360, PS3 and PC.