Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington - The Redemption is more entertaining and action-packed than the sluggish second episode, The Betrayal. The story moves at a rapid pace, the missions are full of variety, and evil George Washington is given the face time his villainous character so rightly deserves. Sadly, for all the intriguing mysteries raised by the downloadable content's alternate universe setting, the ending is a total cop-out. If you were hoping for greater insight into the wider lore of the Assassin's Creed universe, you will be sorely disappointed.
After the repetitive fetch quests of The Betrayal, seeing Connor on board the Aquila for The Redemption's action-packed opening comes as a relief. The naval battles were a highlight in Assassin's Creed III and are similarly entertaining here as you blast the Aquila's cannons at a fleet of ships and enter New York City. It's there that Washington is securing his place as the king of the United States by building a pyramid, right in the heart of the city. This hasn't gone down well with Connor, who immediately breaks out his herbal tea to summon another animal spirit.
This time, you're endowed with the power of the bear, a stomping physical attack with a wide blast radius that's particularly handy when you're surrounded by a large group of enemies. It's a very satisfying attack to use, especially when you see enemies being thrown into the air like rag dolls, but it does sap a fair bit of your health away when you use it. This means that, more often than not, the power of the bear works better as a last resort than a first line of attack.
And you may end up being surrounded more often than you expect, thanks to the sheer number of enemies scattered around the streets of New York: you can't so much as set foot on the ground before being surrounded by some burly bluecoats. That means most of the time you're forced up onto the rooftops, zapping between them using Conner's eagle power, or jumping to missions using fast travel. The high soldier count makes sense within the narrative, but it leaves little opportunity for you to explore the city.
Unlike the largely unchanged Boston from The Betrayal, the altered New York City is something you want to explore. It's dominated by Washington's pyramid, which lies smack-bang in the center of the city. Surrounding it are Washington's many workers who--in a nicely detailed touch--toil away at the building while you sneak about the rooftops. These workers and the other downtrodden citizens of New York become the key to overthrowing Washington's regime.
They also help mix up the mission structure, as the game foregoes the fetch quests that dominated previous episodes. One mission sees you protecting a food cart from waves of bluecoats in order to feed starving citizens. Another has you creating civil unrest by hanging enemies in public squares, destroying statues, and dishing out damage to Washington's public speakers. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson give you help along the way, although these characters are largely relegated to a few brief cutscenes.
The focus is on the conflict between Conner and Washington, who by this point is in full-on tyrant mode, the Apple of Eden having warped his mind to the point of insanity. Conner is wrestling with his mind, too, because of the corrupting influence of his animal powers, but that parallel isn't explored anywhere near as much as it should be. When the two finally meet after an enjoyable platforming jaunt through the pyramid, it's not the grand event you might expect. Instead, you're plonked into a cheesy boss battle, followed by an underwhelming ending that's far too predictable.
For all the fresh ideas and narrative puzzles introduced in the first episode, to end the series on such a low point is massively disappointing. As an individual episode, The Redemption is a more enjoyable effort than The Betrayal, and it comes close to the excitement of The Infamy. But it also makes the series as a whole less compelling. Those keen to absorb absolutely everything the Assassin's Creed III universe has to offer will find a few enjoyable moments in The Tyranny of King Washington, but it's ultimately an empty experience.