Yesterday, after getting all of the trophies for Assassin’s Creed II I had a hankering to stab some more people in the throat and run over rooftops. I downloaded the DLC currently available: The Battle of Forli and The Bonfire of the Vanities: Black Edition with 3 Templar Lairs. All of this cost me $10.98.
The DLC was not all that.
The Battle of Forli was $3.99. I played through it in less than 20 minutes. The concept is that Forli is under attack and you have to defend it. The problem is that most of the action is pitched battles. You run through the town and fight big groups of attackers. While you can do this is in ACII it’s not where the game shines. It completely disregards the stealth aspects of the game, the free running and the general character of the previous material. It’s boring and tedious and requires no planning or cleverness. There is some stealth required for the last two missions but no real challenge. The last mission has a ten minute time limit. I finished it in less than four.
You do get to go ride Leonardo’s flying machine through the countryside if you want but it’s not required. There is no real reason to ride the thing other than messing around with it. A cute but useless feature.
In The Bonfire of the Vanities the DLC picks up its game. It is a series of assassinations that need to be performed in order to depose Savonarola, the mad monk tyrant of Florence. This took a couple of hours and was quite fun. The skills ingrained from playing the main content were called for in spades. None of the assassinations was particularly difficult but several of them were quite satisfying. Sonic would have been proud of the last one I completed. I methodically killed off the guards around the target. I remained undetected the entire time as I threw them off the roof of a very tall church and occasionally just shot one of them. I waited and observed their patrol patterns to determine the perfect moment to eliminate them.
The third part of the DLC was three Templar Lairs; Palazzo Medici in Florence, Santa Maria Dei Friari and Aresenale in Venice. These are very similar to the Assassins’ tombs from the main game. They are primarily jumping/timing puzzles to get you to a secret room filled with treasure. It seems a trifle ridiculous to me as at this point in the game I am rolling with about a half million florins in my pocket. If I had bought them when I first got the game I could have used the cash but now it’s trifling.
The biggest failing of the Templar lairs were the camera angles. I would be very interested to know when in the production of the game they were programmed. Unlike the assassins’ tombs where I never had this trouble, the poor camera angles made the lairs almost unplayable at times.
The lair puzzles were also not as good as the puzzles in the tombs. They were obviously trying to add value to some of the lairs but instead of making clever puzzles they just cheaped out and put in these bullshit little barriers. You have to constantly go back and climb some shit again because you hit the water six inches to the right and the whole time this guard is talking like he has to get away from you and the chase music is playing but really, there is no time limit. Once again the designers called on the player to utilize a cool game mechanic to solve parts of the puzzles. It’s the only time in the whole game that you’ll ever use the jump backwards off a wall or run up a wall and jump sideways. “Hey lead designer man: I’m happy you programmed this in and put the QA guys through hell to get it right. If you have to force me to use it maybe you should just save the time and money for better level design.”
I would say the DLC is necessary only to the obsessive completionist and the Ezio addict. I am both so it suited me. Your mileage may vary.
P.S. I do in fact have all the Assassins’ Tombs for my completion percentage. I don’t care what the god damned server says. I have the armor of Altair and how do I get that without having all the tombs? Come on, give me my 100%!