The episodic Assassin's Creed III DLC series, The Tyranny of King Washington, wraps up its storyline with The Redemption. The third installment in this alternative universe adventure sees Ratonhnhaké:ton arrive in New York, with the intention of taking down the mad King Washington once and for all.
After the naval tease at the close of The Betrayal, The Redemption opens with Ratonhnhaké:ton at the helm of the Aquila. It's a great way to kick off the final adventure, as the naval battles were arguably the most popular segments of the base game. You start off battling a small group of ships in deep water before navigating a mine field and launching a sneak attack on the vessels in the harbor.
Being in control of the Aquila is plenty of fun, but sadly, it is over all too soon. Before you know it, you're back on land, exploring the city of New York. Unlike Boston, which felt relatively confined, New York's landscape varies a noticeable amount. There are areas that are tightly built, while others are much more open. A good chunk of the city is destroyed, offering ruined buildings to explore.
As before, Ratonhnhaké:ton goes on a vision quest, this time adding the spirit of the bear to his repertoire. Using the power of Bear Might, Ratonhnhaké:ton can destroy weakened structures as well as take out any enemies in the immediate area. It's a powerful attack, tempered only by the large amount of health it consumes when used. Alas, the bear vision quest is also the simplest of the three vision quests, being nearly impossible to fail so long as you follow the prompts.
Once equipped with Bear Might, Ratonhnhaké:ton is given the chance to use the new power while defending Thomas Jefferson and his men. It's a melee battle within an enclosed area, so you have plenty of opportunities to ground pound and force the enemy back. It's also an ideal arena to practice hand-to-hand combat if that's your thing. The only real down side here is related to one of the in-game camera bugs.
Even though the area where Ratonhnhaké:ton is fighting is multi-level, the camera always tries to track nearby enemies. This is more of an annoyance than anything else, as there are snipers on the upper levels taking pot shots at Ratonhnhaké:ton and Jefferson. Instinctively, most people are going to try and look up, except the camera won't let you — at least not if there is an opponent anywhere nearby. In order to use Ratonhnhaké:ton's Eagle Flight, you'll need to dash away from the pack, quickly look up and fly away before anyone gets close.
The middle section of The Redemption has Ratonhnhaké:ton wandering around the city, causing as much havoc as possible to incite the citizens to revolt. This mission is classic open-world, as the targets vary and are presented in no particular order. In fact, there are more targets than necessary to complete the mission, so how you do it really is up to you. Given the focused nature of the second episode, having things open up here is a welcome change.
Finally, there is the final assault on King Washington's pyramid. Playing out much like the dungeon crawls in some of the earlier Assassin's Creed games, this mission should feel right at home to fans of the franchise. It's also a change from everything seen in The Tyranny of King Washington up until this point.
Oddly, the final battle against Washington is anticlimactic. The problem is that there is no sense of danger. For some reason, the developers chose to hide Ratonhnhaké:ton's life bar, making you seemingly invulnerable. Yes, Ratonhnhaké:ton can be knocked down by Washington, but it's simply a matter of getting back up and having another go. You do need to use all three of Ratonhnhaké:ton's animal powers to win the fight.
Given the variety of gameplay and the fact that it is just as long as The Infamy, the first episode, The Redemption could have easily been highly recommended — if it didn't exhibit such noticeable bugs. Some, such as the dead Bluecoats who stood at attention when killed (rather than falling down), were merely odd. Unfortunately, others had a detrimental effect on the gameplay.
The biggest problem was the inability to switch between animal powers. Given the focus on the new powers in The Tyranny of King Washington, you are going to use them for much of the episode. Every so often, however, the game refused to let us switch Ratonhnhaké:ton from his weapon to an animal power — at least not with the quick switch mapped to the d-pad. Whenever the game got "stuck" in this matter, it required bringing up the main inventory menu and selecting the power that way. It could be quite frustrating when it happened in the middle of a fight, leaving you unexpectedly vulnerable.
Power-switching also seemed to randomly fail within Washington's pyramid. There were two instances when Eagle Flight refused to lock on to the next target, leaving nowhere to go. Reloading the last checkpoint seemed to fix the issue.
As the cheapest and most versatile installment in the Tyranny of King Washington, The Redemption should be an easy recommendation. If the gameplay bugs were eradicated, it would have been. As is, though, it's merely an afternoon diversion that will be played once and then put aside.
Editor's Note: The Tyranny of King Washington – The Redemption is a single-player experience, but when purchased with the Season Pass on the Xbox 360, it can only be played while connected to Xbox Live. It cannot be played offline.
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