Assassin’s Creed III – The Infamy DLC Review
Assassin’s Creed III’s The Infamy DLC is a solid start to the three-part series, but its execution is imperfect.
It feels like Ubisoft has been hyping up their Assassin’s Creed III DLC The Tyranny of King Washington forever now. Maybe that’s just because I’ve been excited for it ever since I saw the debut trailer for it. The idea behind TOKW is really cool and unique: in this “alternate reality” George Washington goes mad after obtaining an Apple of Eden, crowns himself King and starts brutally murdering Connor’s fellow tribesmen. Oh yeah, and he’s not Connor here- he never met Achilles, never became an assassin, and his village was never burned to the ground. His mother (Rosario Dawson) is even still alive, and he still goes by his birth name Ratonhnhaké:ton. The Tyranny of King Washington DLC is split into three parts, which will be released over a few months. The first part, available now, is called The Infamy, and is available for $9.99 on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 (reviewed). It can also be had by purchasing the Assassin’s Creed III season pass, which retails for $29.99.
Ratonhnhaké:ton feels appropriately more savage and less civilized in The Infamy. Though the DLC takes place primarily in the frontier, which Assassin’s Creed III players will have explored every inch of by now, Ubisoft did make the effort to make it feel fresh, with dead bodies hanging from trees, and rotting dead soldiers and animals littering the barren winter landscape. There’s blood everywhere, and on the whole The Infamy feels darker than the rest of Assassin’s Creed III.
It should be noted that this DLC is accessed through the main menu, and is completely separate from the main campaign, and nothing carries over between the two. Right at the start of The Infamy, players are thrust headfirst into this surreal world, where Ratonhnhaké:ton is awoken by his long-dead mother, who claims that Connor’s friend Washington is currently burning down a nearby village. After his people’s homes are devastated, and many of his friends and family are killed, the tribe mother demands that Ratonhnhaké:ton seek out a willow tree, to make a tea with its bark- drinking this supposedly makes one capable of supernatural abilities. (Side note: any enemy encounters I had before drinking this tea ended in me getting my ass completely handed to me. I’m unsure if there was some glitch or if I was forgetting some late-game combat upgrade, but the guard break just did not work at all on certain enemies. I essentially had to sneak around until I got to the willow tree. It may have been a good idea to have a short combat tutorial as an option for those just getting back into the game after a long absence.) His mother refuses and forbids him to do so, as it can have dangerous side effects- and she notes that he is the son of a man of anger, which could bring out undesirable qualities. Before long, this decision is placed out of his hands, and he has no choice but to take part in the ritual, immediately going into drug-fueled out-of-body experience.
This was the first of a few poorly-designed parts in The Infamy. In this dream sequence, you need to follow wolves, then listen for an Elk’s heartbeat and follow it. Trouble is, there are invisible walls everywhere. This part probably should have taken a few minutes, max, but I ran around like an idiot for much longer, begging for it to end. But I persevered, knowing that soon I would acquire the heavily-hyped new powers- controlling wolf spirits and invisibility. And to be fair, these powers are awesome and did not disappoint. And there are some stealth puzzles that seem like a great idea at first, utilizing the invisibility mechanic to run between buildings and bushes while silently dispatching guards. You need to use your cloaking lightly, as it very quickly drains your health.
However, I guess that Ubisoft still felt this ability was overpowered, and so they added attack dogs that can sniff you out, causing instant fails in one painful trailing sequence near the end of this two-hour DLC. This particular sequence, without question is one of the most ludicrously frustrating sequences I’ve experienced in an Assassin’s Creed game, second only to the infamous Charles Lee chase. You need to constantly switch between invisibility and raw meat, which you throw to bait the dogs away from you. But for some reason you need to disable your cloaking to throw the meat. This creates a problem as these dogs find you quickly, and always have soldiers nearby- who will see you as soon as you make the switch. This sequence, which seemed like it would be fun at first, became a tedious case of trial and error. However, it’s still great fun to take out enemies right in front of their allies while cloaked, and sicking the spirit dogs on a group of enemies is a great tactic for getting the upper hand before enemies engage you.
Once you complete the DLC, there are some side missions and story fragments to collect, which should pad out the length a bit. I felt that, much like the main Assassin’s Creed III campaign, The Infamy packs a solid amount of content to justify its price- it just could use some more polish. I feel as though some sections were not play-tested enough, or just could’ve been designed a bit better. All in all, though The Infamy has managed to maintain my interest in the Tyranny of King Washington story, and I’m excited to see how this tale plays out in the final two episodes. I just hope that the gameplay execution doesn’t continue to dampen my enjoyment. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of those damn dogs.