Version tested Xbox 360
It's been a busy few weeks in the Creedverse. Since The Tyranny of King Washington's first part was released, Ubisoft has announced and revealed much of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, the series' next enormous adventure. The studio has introduced its next star and setting. On top of that, the latest round of leaks suggests a new PlayStation Vita game, Rising Phoenix, is on the way too.
The downside of Ubisoft's relentless marketing schedule and its inability to plug leaks is that last year's game seems very much like last year's news. But here we are again, back in Boston with Assassin Creed 3's Connor and a few other old faces. The Betrayal, Tyranny's middle portion, gets straight to the action. Connor's stuck in jail and must escape (again), although this time he has his new Ghost Recon-style cloak to make things a bit different.
With the alternate history already set up, Ubisoft now seems happy to continue its new storyline with little further discussion of its mysterious origins. It's a shame, as the cause of this narrative splinter is one of this expansion's selling points. There are more scattered memory artefacts to collect for another tease of the answer, but don't expect to find any huge revelations before next month's finale.
The episode's saving grace is its clever new flight power, the ability to soar eagle-like from one rooftop edge to another in a single swift movement. Like Arkham City's grapple tool, you can activate the ability mid-jump for extra distance, or use it to land on and launch into attacks on distant foes.
You first get to test the ability in a darkened room full of enemies, Connor perched aloft on a series of dusty beams. As in Arkham, you can scan your prey below and swoop down for stealth attacks. But the aerial power is most fun outside, on the tiled rooftops above Boston's crowded streets. Here you can spam the ability to repeatedly string jumps together. It allows you to cover huge distances in very little time and refreshes the series' trademark chase sequences.
Story-wise, the tale follows a similar pattern to the preceding episode. After an introductory sequence and the ability to test out your new power, Connor gets his target. This time it's cigar-chewing General Israel Putnam, the other of King Washington's new cronies and the last man standing in the way of next episode's showdown.
There are more cameos from familiar faces and, free from the bounds of any focus on true history, plenty of time with eccentric inventor Benjamin Franklin. The relationship between him and Connor is very different to the old bromance between Ezio and Leonardo in Assassin's Creed 2, but there are more than a few nods back to that repartee.
Again, there's a new wave of side-missions to complete across the city and a darker theme to your surroundings. Heralds now give messages about conscription and curfews while dissenters can be seen being lined up in the street and executed by firing squads.
It's a safe if not spectacular middle episode to Ubisoft's mostly enjoyable yarn - one that neither sets up new mysteries or concludes any existing ones. It wraps things up with a sequence that suggests we're within reach of the season's denouement, with another shift in location to New York and a cliffhanger that promises a more dramatic conclusion.
6 / 10