In a distant time and faraway place, the planet of Earth floats deep in space. Blue skies, one sun, land of precious bore, the gold rush brought the British in by the score! And then one day an Assassin appeared, with powers of wolf, eagle and bear! Protector of peace, mystic native from afar, Brotherhood member Connor!
For the missteps that Assassin’s Creed 3 made last year, it still got quite a few things right. Authenticity, visuals, voice-acting and a world that was perhaps too damn big were some of those ideas done right. But in the latest DLC, it’s tossing the realism of the game out of the window, taking players to an alternate history where American icon and first president George Washington somehow came into contact with a piece of ancient technology, the Apple of Eden.
Harnessing that power into a +15 sceptre of paranoia and super-powers, Washington quickly took over the fledgling colonies, proclaiming himself King and anyone who stood against him as deader than disco. It’s at this point that Connor awakes, garbed in more traditional native American garb and finding himself lost in a world that doesn’t recognise him while his mother somehow still lives.
The first episode in a three part series, The Infamy has players eventually encountering King George , before being decisively outmatched and left for dead. Realising that he’ll need more than just his assassin training and natural skills to survive, Connor agrees to drink the risky tea of the Willow tree, a concoction that grants him great power, but at a price.
Episode one grants players two of those Bravestarr powers, which adds a small wrinkle to the dynamic of how the game is actually played. The first such power allows players to call in a spiritual wolf pack, three spectral lupines that ring of an Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood influence. The more noteworthy power however, is Power of the Wolf.
Activating that ability allows Connor to see the world in monochromatic vision, while also giving him a slight stalking speed boost and the very handy skill of being completely invisible to the naked eye. While that power allows for chaining quick stealth kills and attacks or escape, it also comes with a price. Activating that lupine skills quickly drains your health bar, leaving you around less than half a minute to remain cloaked before your health goes too far into the red zone.
From that point on, you’ll find yourself stalking iconic American figures again, in a quest that will take you around…two hours. I’m not joking, even by DLC standards, the infamy is painfully short. And with a new power to take advantage of, it’s a damn shame. It actually is pretty fun to make use of these new powers in the game, as Ubisoft has managed to craft them in a manner where they don’t kill the challenge level of the core gameplay experience. Oh, and don’t forget the random bugs that still pop up in this game, like this bit where I had to deal with a moonwalking soldier.
But after spending over an hour getting to the point where you acquire those powers, and less than that actually using them in missions, it’s an absolute cock-tease to see the game cliffhanger itself finished. Once the end credits roll, you’ll find yourself stuck in a single wilderness zone, with very little incentive to actually carry on. Without a solid mission structure, things become tiresome, and raiding a slave caravan or ambushing a “Bluecoat” patrol quickly gets tiring.
The Infamy boasts the same level of visual and audio quality that the original Assassin’s Creed 3 game offered, but after a two hour stint with very little replay value, that 800 MS Points price tag hits home a little too hard. That’s not to say I’m not not looking forward to other episodes, but hopefully parts two and three will actually be able to hold the attention of a player for more than an afternoon when they arrive.