Assassin’s Creed 3 ‘Hidden Secrets’ DLC Review

Season Passes are all the rage among developers and publishers these days. They usually as much as double the price players pay for a game, and guarantee that you’ll be paying attention to a title deep into its life — which helps keep other players interested by bringing up word of mouth or maintaining populations in multiplayer games.

But that also means that developers have to keep providing content at intervals to make a season pass actually worth something, and that can occasionally lead to somewhat lackluster downloadable content. “Hidden Secrets” is the latest small batch of Assassin’s Creed 3 DLC to show up and help in tiding players over until the release of “The Tyranny of King Washington,” but it’s a bit on the thin, simplistic side.

Assassin’s Creed 3 ‘Hidden Secrets’ DLC (PC [Reviewed], Playstation 3, Xbox 360)
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Dec. 11, 2012
MSRP: $4.99

Hidden Secrets adds a few missions to the list of side quests you can undertake once you’ve completed Sequence 6 in the main campaign of Assassin’s Creed 3. That’s the point when you get access to your own ship and the run of most of the game world, along with all your assassin gear. The pack primarily comprises three single-player events: two naval missions (one a two-parter) and a mission that has you exploring a Mayan temple to find the sword of Captain Kidd.

All three missions are accessed from the docks at the Homestead, including the temple mission, to which you’ll travel by ship. That one is the most visually stunning of the three single-player bits of content, and probably the most disappointing, too.

Exploring the Mayan temple is actually a great idea for Assassin’s Creed 3. You land in Mexico, make your way through a cave, and suddenly emerge in a jungle area at the temple’s base. The rest of the mission has you scaling trees, cliffs and walls in an attempt to get inside the temple and nab its treasure. It’s basically one big environmental puzzle, something Assassin’s Creed 3 is sorely lacking.

We saw a lot of these big, building-filling puzzles in Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and both were some of the best things the games had going for them. Those were ambitious levels that took some doing to complete, however — they weren’t easy, both in figuring out how exactly to move through them and in executing the necessary moves. Though AC3 has further refined movement in the series to make the second part work better, the level is actually missing the first part: the puzzle itself is not much of a puzzle at all.

Scaling the Mayan temple looks great. It includes a number of cool moments in which Connor makes huge, stunning jumps or dodges under a low-hanging branch, only to nearly fall to his death. These moments add a bit of cinematic flair to the proceedings, and Connor’s brief run through jungle trees will give players a sense of where the series could go with what Assassin’s Creed 3 added to the canon of game systems in the franchise. Unfortunately, on all fronts, there’s just not enough of it.

The Mayan mission, simple as it is, is over within 10 minutes or so. Connor climbs up the temple, falls back down, climbs back up. Your reward is a sword, unlocked for purchase in the shops. The environmental puzzle isn’t the 30-minute affair that we saw underneath the landmarks of AC2 or AC:B, and that’s a shame. It’s a pretty vista for a second, and then it’s over.

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2 Comments on Assassin’s Creed 3 ‘Hidden Secrets’ DLC Review

Ray

On January 10, 2013 at 3:41 am

Nice review. Fully agree about the lack of environmental puzzles in AC3. They were some of the best parts of earlier AC games; amazing views and quality gameplay combined. Unfortunately though the new simplified controls might make them a bit easy.

R.J.

On January 21, 2013 at 6:11 pm

This is about what I expected from this since it’s really just selling a pre-order bonus. The DLC for this series hasn’t been very good since the Da Vinci DLC for Brotherhood, and it’s pretty disappointing to hear that the environmental puzzle here is so short, since those were my favorite parts from AC2 and ACB. As Ray pointed out, the simplified controls in 3 seem like a hindrance to the challenge of something like this. While playing 3, I felt like the goal of making the controls more “accessible” overshot the mark and took out much of what I liked about having to actually analyze a climb in favor of making the same technique the solution most of the time.

I’m definitely pleased that I decided to not buy the season pass for this game. The Tyranny of King Washington comprises three of the five bits of DLC, and then another part is this, and the other is MP, which I don’t play for this series, so it really isn’t worth it for me.