Assassin’s Creed III: The Betrayal ReviewMarch 25, 2013
The Betrayal is rough around the edges, but hardcore Assassin’s Creed fans will have fun with it.
Part One of Assassin’s Creed III‘s three-part story DLC, The Infamy, was a decent enough expansion to the core game for fans looking for a reason to dust off their copy of the game. The idea behind this DLC is intriguing: a power-drunk George Washington takes hold of the Assassin’s Creed macguffin, the Apple of Eden, and becomes a comic-book style, mustache-twirling evil caricature of himself. In episode one we saw him murder most of Ratonhnhaké:ton’s – or Connor’s – tribe, including his mother. All of this happens in a sort-of ‘what if’ side-story fashion, but Ubisoft has been hinting that somehow all of this is canon. Episode Two, The Betrayal, doesn’t shed any more light on how this is possible, and I’m assuming it will be found to all have been a dream, or something similar, in part three.
The Infamy was not a bad start to this expansion, but it definitely left a lot to be desired. Though the cloaking mechanic was an enjoyable addition, a lot of things just didn’t feel play-tested enough – it all felt a bit sloppy. The mission structures and the addition of incredibly annoying dogs that you had to bait with meat really brought down the experience for me. In The Betrayal, the dogs are back (damnit), but at least in this episode we’re graced with another cool supernatural power: the ability to harness the flight of an eagle. I found this power to be much more interesting and fun to use than the cloaking; flying from rooftop to rooftop is a great way to easily get away from guards, and you can even use the mechanic to assassinate enemies from afar. It’s also great for getting away from those damned dogs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold up when the player is forced to use these powers for high-speed chases. The trigger point for using the power is too unforgiving, and you need to aim the camera directly at sharp angles in the scenery, which is tough when you’re moving quickly through the landscape. It’s sort of like Dishonored’s blink mechanic in that respect, except you can’t point anywhere like you could in that game. I found that guards seemed hyper-aware of your location in this episode – guards on the ground could easily spot you on a rooftop, for instance. You also can’t fly freely- which would have been a hundred times more awesome, and probably would have controlled better, as well. It felt smooth when you could fly (semi) freely in the Sky Journey sequence, at least.
Unfortunately, despite the core game receiving two massive patches, I still encountered a number of graphical and quest bugs as well. Nothing game breaking, but it’s a bit astonishing that after all this time these things still aren’t ironed out. The strangest bug, which I encountered in the first episode as well, is nigh-unkillable enemies. There was a point in The Betrayal that I literally stabbed a normal guard about 20+ times before he finally fell, and I don’t remember this happening during the core gameplay experience. Also, while not a glitch, the way that the game requires you to quickly switch between both the Power of the Wolf and Power of the Eagle just is not intuitive. Having these powers mapped to one of your item/ weapon slots kind of sucks, because between those two powers and the meat you often need on hand for baiting the dogs, you’re only left with one open slot, say for the rope darts- essential for taking out certain enemies.
Unfortunately, The Betrayal really doesn’t move the story forward at all either. King Washington only makes the briefest of appearances in this episode, one of which may or may not have actually happened. Considering that there’s only one episode left, Ubisoft has roughly one-to-two hours left to wrap this sucker up, and at this point in time it doesn’t look like it will have a rewarding conclusion. Here’s hoping they prove me wrong though.
Overall, The Betrayal feels stronger in some ways than The Infamy, but it’s still far from perfect. I’m enjoying getting back into the game, though, and I wish more companies would release story DLC like this after release. The Betrayal is rough around the edges, but hardcore Assassin’s Creed fans will have fun with it. I’m definitely excited to see what power Connor controls in episode three- but I’m not psyched about losing another item slot and juggling powers like some peyote-fueled drunken Indian clown.