Who is looking for Redemption in the final part of the Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington DLC? Is Connor looking to redeem his failure to protect his mother and their tribe? Or is George Washington looking to redeem himself for his cowardly and vicious behaviour? Episode three looks to bring this interesting “what if” scenario to its dramatic conclusion, but after a strong first part, followed by a lacklustre middle entry, what can we expect from the final chapter?
If Part One was all about setting the story, and Part Two focused almost solely on action, Part Three does attempt somewhat to combine the two into a more even experience. Connor has liberated Benjamin Franklin from the control of the Apple of Eden, and he and his new allies in the rebellion head to New York – Washington’s seat of power – to overthrow the maniacal monarch. You must find more like-minded individuals to bolster your forces, before looking to launch a final assault on the Pyramid that Washington has been building as his new palace.
Just like Part Two, the pace is blistering throughout this episode and you won’t sit still for long, and even though there are a selection of side quests and collectables to go searching after, you will most likely just want to move onto the next story-based objective as soon as possible so you can find out what happens next. That isn’t necessarily to say that the story is fascinating though. It jumps somewhat from one event to the next, never really explaining why you are doing what you have now been tasked with. You want to get to the next mission, as you hope it will explain what is happening a bit more clearly, but not always because you are so engrossed in the tale being told.
Thankfully, this episode doesn’t ramp up the violence quite to the levels seen in the second episode, and the shock factor on display there doesn’t seem to be the focus in The Redemption. This time around, the violence is simply used to emphasise how unpleasant and tyrannical Washington has become – adding fuel to the fires of revenge that drive Connor. So players will want to hunt down and kill Washington, despite perhaps not being all that invested in the story. It is therefore a shame that the ending is actually something of a cop-out, and seems like the easy option to tie things up with a nice, neat bow.
Interestingly, the New York map is actually quite different in this DLC than it appeared in the main game. Some of the city is the same, but for the first time in this DLC series, a large new area has now been created, which is taken up by the Pyramid that Washington has been constructing to hide within. This is a new an interesting area to explore and has clearly been optimised for all of your new super-powers, but the map suffers the same problems as Boston did last time round: you can rarely actually sneak around, making combat almost unavoidable. This is a bit of a let-down for a game series that is traditionally about stealth and silent killing.
Irritatingly, once again the identical set of side quests are present here, and by now players will be pretty fed up with feeding the poor, intercepting convoys and the like – and it is more than likely that most gamers will simply bypass these additional tasks and stick to the story missions. There is no incentive – other than one achievement – to complete all of these tasks, and with the sheer amount of guards scattered throughout this map it is a rather hard task to complete them all without entering full combat every five seconds. There is a story mission in which you must cause chaos around the city – which includes you pulling off a series of stunts, such as beating up proclaimers and hanging Bluecoats in the street – which does add some much-needed variety to the objectives in-game, and perhaps more should have been made of these instead of the other side missions.
As you might expect by now, Connor learns another new animal power for this final instalment. Strangely, whereas you have learned two different skills linked to both the Wolf and Eagle previously, in your final spirit journey you meet a giant Bear, and only gain one new power. It is a shame that only one power is linked to the bear, as seeing how these new skills are linked to each animal is quite fascinating. The level for the spirit journey itself is quite interesting and is pulled off in a dramatic way, which is quite different from how the previous ones were put together. This certainly adds a little variety and artistic flair to proceedings, but is all too short, unfortunately.
The Bear Smash is the only new move that you will learn this time, which is a devastating radius-based move which will kill all enemies in the area, sending them flying – whilst also quickly depleting your health bar. Previous animal skills have always been linked to your health bar in order to stop players from just spamming them, but the Bear power is the first one that really drains your meter quickly. You really have to keep an eye on your health, as you can easily just use the smash twice and end up being in the red, in danger of death. This is good, so that you won’t simply run around killing everyone with ease, but the Eagle flight power still uses up so little health that you’re still likely to resort to flying away whenever you’re in trouble.
VERDICT: As much as the animal powers have given this DLC series its own identity and a sense of variety, they are also the architects of its downfall. Fans of the Assassin’s Creed series are likely to find the gameplay too distant from what they came to love in the main series. The wolf powers take away all the skill of being stealthy, Eagle powers eliminate the need for climbing, jumping and free-running, and the Bear power makes combat a lot easier. What then, really remains from the core game mechanics?
And this isn’t helped at all by the overall lack of variety from episode to episode. Too many of the missions are similar to one another, and all of the side quests are generic and lazy. You get to do some sea-faring this time around, but that was never one of the finer points of the third game anyway. There are a few stand-out moments, such as sneaking your way into Washington’s Pyramid and climbing around inside, where the game feels more like a real Assassin’s Creed title, but with this being the final area in the whole trilogy, it all seems too little, too late. What started as an exciting premise has ended up finishing with a bit of a whimper, and whilst not terrible in any way, this add-on just can’t find the balance between interesting new ideas and maintaining the feel of the series it has spawned from. A strange and intriguing chapter in the Assassin’s Creed lore, but not a necessary one by any means.