X360A Review: Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington - The Redemption
Written Wednesday, April 24, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
It's all been leading up to this. The final episode in Assassin's Creed III's single-player DLC set in an alternate universe, so far The Tyranny of King Washington has seen Ratonhnhaké:ton visiting the Sky World twice to acquire the powers of the Wolf Cloak and Eagle Flight. All of this in an effort to bring down King Washington, who's gone mad with power thanks to the Apple of Eden, and is only growing even more insane and unscrupulous over time. So much so in fact, that he spends most of this third episode sitting and brooding in the throne room of his enormous New York palace, his Apple of Eden sceptre never far away.
After another 'previously on...' sequence, The Redemption picks up where The Betrayal left off with Ratonhnhaké:ton sailing aboard the Aquila towards Washington's New York stronghold. This means a welcome return for a brief slice of naval warfare as you take on the king's armada, and a nice little throwaway teaser for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Once again, you'll find yourself mounting support for your cause to depose King Washington, rescuing New York's citizens from bluecoats, feeding the hungry, freeing slaves from bluecoat convoys and so on.
The Redemption's Sky World journey has Ratonhnhaké:ton climbing an enormous bear spirit to acquire Bear Might, enabling him to unleash devastating quakes that take down any enemies within its radius. Of the three powers, Bear Might isn't quite as empowering as Eagle Flight, although it proves invaluable when you're surrounded by enemies, and there are several opportunities to wreak havoc with it throughout the DLC.
However, using Bear Might has its downside, as it can reduce your health to a sliver in no time, leaving you massively vulnerable to a single attack that leads to you being desynchronised. Judicious use is vital, as simply spamming your bear powers will invariably lead to you kissing the dirt and having to retry the same section over and over. While this can prove somewhat frustrating, remembering to use Ratonhnhaké:ton's other powers in conjunction with Bear Might will soon become second nature, unlocking a whole range of possibilities.
Mapping all three of Ratonhnhaké:ton's animal powers to the d-pad enables you to quickly cycle between each ability, meaning you can be grinding soldiers into the ground one minute and sneaking or flying away the next. It all suits the open plazas, narrow alleyways and rooftops of New York perfectly, before you find yourself facing up to the front door of King Washington's imposing palace, where some light navigational challenges await.
You never quite get the full experience of an Assassin's Creed II or Brotherhood-style tomb to explore in The Redemption, unfortunately, but at least it's nice to have even a vague flicker of that old magic in this DLC. And like the previous two episodes, there are a few side missions to seek out on the streets of New York, all of which fit the same template as before. Nothing major to write home about there then, although you do get an extra insight into the story if you collect all of the memory fragments across the three episodes.
'Nothing to write home about' can also be said of the achievements, as they're essentially the same kind of thing as the first two episodes. Achieve 100% synchronisation, finish the DLC, and fulfil an objective with your power. Here the goal is to kill 125 enemies with your Bear Might, which like the 'travel 1km' achievement using your Eagle Flight from The Betrayal, will pop within minutes. Overall, The Tyranny of King Washington's achievement list has been pretty much entirely bereft of creativity, which seems like a huge missed opportunity.
This is Assassin's Creed III's last hurrah, and as such The Redemption brings together a lot of what makes the game so entertaining in the first place, but it's being able to draw upon the complete set of animal powers that makes this final episode the most exciting. It's just a shame that there isn't a little more meat on The Tyranny of King Washington's bones to allow Ratonhnhaké:ton to really go off the leash and flex his animal powers. Sometimes it can feel like you're going through the motions, using the right power at the right time because the game says so.
As a three-episode story arc, Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington proves enjoyable enough, but we can't help but feel that more could have been made of Ratonhnhaké:ton's powers with some more imaginative free-roam tasks to complete rather than the somewhat disposable and repetitive side missions you're presented with here. This third episode follows suit as a fun sojourn away from Connor's narrative, and offers just as much value as the first two instalments for a lower price, which is nice.
There's also the promise of that all-important resolution too, and as payoffs go, it's not too bad, with a memorable final showdown with the King himself. You might not necessarily be picking your jaw up off of the floor once you complete The Tyranny of King Washington, but you should feel quietly satisfied and perhaps even a little upset that there'll be no more Assassin's Creed for a whole six months. That's when Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag will be coming out, but as Ratonhnhaké:ton says, “that's a story for another day.”