I'm back again for another review; with the upcoming release episode 2 Betrayal of this DLC, I wanted to do a review that also recaps on what we discovered last time in episode 1.
As the name would suggest, George Washington is not the man he was shown as in the main game of Assassin's Creed III. The episode starts very strangely with scenes of Connor by a camp fire talking to George Washington; no speech is noted but just distinct pictures. Connor is then awoken by his mother who we saw die at the start of ACIII; he appears in an attire very different to that which he wore in ACIII as well. But it is still heavily influenced by the assassin's design; it is primarily made of pelts with a wolf hood.
|AC3 Connor talking to Washington who is holding the Apple|
He is confused as to why his mother is there as he remembers her dying in a fire when he was younger; she tells him they must go to a local town where she has heard screaming. Mentioning that all this could be her fault. They rescue a woman from some blue coats and afterwards Connor learns that Washington is not the man he remembers. He has become dark, mad with power and calls himself King and is on the search for Connor's mother. They rush to a local town where blue coats are still searching for her and have locked men, women and children in a church and are about to set it on fire. After which they use cannons to get rid of the remaining blue coats in the area and meet King Washington himself; holding the sceptre; Connor tries to reason with him but he sends more blue coats at them.
|Connor receiving the hidden blades from his mother|
Connor being still rather confused about the events as he clearly remembers Washington being a kind man. His mother leads him back to the village; where the tribes chief wants the warriors to drink the tea made from the bow of the great willow; his mother explains its a a drink that gives great powers but each power it gives, it robs a piece of the mind. The tribe mother and Connors mother argue about the use of the tea; before Connor's mother gives him the hidden blades left to him by his father and as soon as she does; Blue Coats led by Washington, Arnold and Putnam attack the village. Connor's mother is killed....again and Connor left for dead after taking on Washington and being devastated by the Sceptre and being shot numerous times.
|Connor being shot by Washington at the village|
He is awoken by two warriors and the Tribe Mother; where he agrees to drink the tea of the great willow; due to his mother bringing down the pain that is befalling the land. After Connor drinks it he goes on a spirit walk where he obtains the power of the wolf; which we'll go into in the gameplay features. Connor leads revolts across the frontier; rescuing other tribes people and gaining more strength; but after doing so he returns to find the clan mother murdered and goes to find out who has done this. Learning that it appears to be Benedict Arnold; Connor leads a one man march on the base he is in and kills Arnold where he stands.
|Connor killing Benedict Arnold|
Connor tells him that he told him he would get him back for west point (for those who have played the Benedict Arnold DLC) but he does not know who Connor is and dies before giving vital information on Washington. As he does Putnam appears behind Connor and knocks him out and locking him in a cell cart. Where he is being led to Boston and the start of episode 2 Betrayal.
|Connor being transported to Boston|
There are a total of 6 main missions in this DLC that have the usual synchronisation missions along with them. These missions; whilst quite brief cover a lot of story in a short amount of time, so they keep the player enthralled with the events that are happening and wanting them to learn more.
There are also 3 different side missions for the player to complete as they go around the frontier
Attack Convoy - some of your tribes people are being transported in cages; you must defeat the blue coats and free your tribes people.
Help the Hungry - There are people around the frontier who are starving; give them some meat and they will be grateful
Wolf Rescue - one of your tribesmen is being attacked by a pack of wolves so you must kill the wolves.
Whilst these help break up the running back and forth in the snowy frontier; for those who want to 100% the episode; it can be annoying as you need to comeplete 5/6 of each to get full sync with them. However they could be anywhere on the frontier; and only appear when you are quite close to them.
There are also the chests to collect throughout the winter frontier, that give you items, weapons and meats as well as the special Lucid Memory Artifacts. These 3 pieces are spaced out around the frontier for the player to collect; and when found an image of events that happened in Connor's reality appear in the air. An example; Connor killing Charles Lee. When the player has found all 3; a hologram of ACIII Connor appears in a cave behind where the tribes mother was settled; talking to it shows a brief event of Connor sat by the camp fire and George Washington turning up on a horse.
|Connor looking on at an image of him Killing Charles Lee|
Whilst retaining the majority of the same aspects of what Assassin's Creed III brought to the table; such as exploring the frontier, baiting and hunting animals, more stealth than any of its predecessors. This dlc brings a lot more to it.
|Connor's spirit walk; lead by the Wolves|
After drinking the tea of the great Willow; Connor goes on a spirit walk where he is guided by wolves in order to hunt and elk; but after awakening he sees that the Elk is dead beside him; and unsure if what he just went through was a dream or he actually hunted it.
|Connor and the dead Elk|
He comes to slowly and realises that his equipment has been taken by blue coats; but also learns that he has gained a new ability. The Wolf Cloak; this is an ability that makes Connor practically invisible and able to stealthily stalk and hunt down blue coats. Whilst this may seem broken compared to how the game usually works; it is balanced out by Connor gradually losing health the longer he is in the Wolf Cloak, so it works really well and isn't game breaking or anything like that. Also with this other animals can see you; especially wolves, so you can't use it against them or if you run with it you will automatically decloak. What is good about this; is that it adds a lot more stealth to the game, using it to charge after an enemy use the hidden blade or weapon of your choosing then stab them, you can run back to a bush and decloak in there without being seen.
|Connor stalking a blue coat using the Wolf Cloak ability|
The other new ability that Connor gains is the ability to summon a pack of three wolves that will go out and devastate enemies; this works similarly to calling on recruits; in that you can summon them but you have to wait for it to recharge before you can use it again. Balancing it out that you can use it sparingly in dire situations.
|Connor sending the Wolf Pack to kill the Blue Coats|
Overall this is a great way of introducing another story into the game; without continuing it on from the main story. Giving it a new twist that Assassin's Creed is famous for; with how Washington is in this compared to how he was in the main story of Assassin's Creed III; it shows a fantastic change in characterisation. Although it is short and throws so much at you; it leaves you wanting more.
Roll on Episode II!!!!
Story Score - 8/10 - a superb twist on what actually happened; using both historical events and the events of ACIII; the only issue is that due to it being episodic, the story of it is a bit rushed with trying to put as much in as possible.
Gameplay Score - 9/10 Fantastic new mechanics to add to the stealth side of things and helps add more depth and danger to it; whilst also keeping good gameplay balance. The only real thing that lets it down is the finding the sides missions and chests as there are many of them out there; although they are optional.
Overall Score - 8.5