• Review- Assassin's Creed II DLC's

    Single Issue XXVII (Written by Gen. Chris)

    Assassin's Creed II
    Battle of Forli & Bonfire of the Vanities(2010)

    Battle of Forli

    Set during the later stages of Ezio’s quest for vengeance, the two DLC additions further expand the story of Assassin’s Creed II by unlocking the two “corrupted” memory sequences that were locked out during the main campaign. And by unlocking, I of course mean paying extra for content that should have been in the game since the start.
    When the Assassin’s decide to hide their recently acquired Apple of Eden in the city of Forli, Ezio sets out to make a deal with Caterina Sforza, the ruler of that city and the region it calls home. However, once he arrives, Ezio discovers that the swampy city of Forli has been attacked and occupied by by the Orsi brothers, and the children of Caterina have been kidnapped in order to force her to be more compliant with their wishes if things became hostile in the city. Realizing that he must help Caterina recover her city as well as her children, Ezio prepares himself for battle.
    The Battle of Forli is easily the most exciting of the two add ons to the game. Virtually the whole sequence is one big battle as well as the immediate fallout of that battle, so the action in the mission chain is fast as well as pretty fresh compared to the rest of the campaign. There is nothing particularly new or different about this DLC compared to the rest of Assassin’s Creed II, though it does feel out of place compared to the rest of the main campaign in terms of tone and structure. It is also clear that this mission chain is more about the side character Caterina Sforza rather than a story about Ezio, which is kind of frustrating as it again feels more out of place than anything. It feels clear that this was designed to be a DLC to be released separately from the main game, and I will talk more about that later. The memory sequence does die down a bit towards the end in terms of excitement and the last mission ends on a kind of cliffhanger, yet it feels very anticlimactic. But it does provide for a decent lead in towards the second DLC, which is called Bonfire of the Vanities.

    Bonfire of the Vanities

    Nine years after the Apple of Eden was stolen by Girolamo Savonarola after The Battle of Forli, Savonarola has the city of Florence under his control. The Medicis have been expelled, leaving the city at the mercy of the priest who wishes to see the city return to its medieval ways at the expense of all the progress of the Italian Renaissance. Using the powerful Piece of Eden, Savonarola has put many people under his spell, and resolves to spread his influence beyond the city into the rest of Italy. Ezio, returning to his childhood home, resolves to save the city from the influence of the crazy priest and his entranced followers.
    While the Battle of Forli is in my opinion the more exciting DLC, I do feel that Bonfire of the Vanities is objectively the better campaign. Consisting of 12 memories scattered around the city of Florence, the Bonfire of the Vanities is a good old fashioned story of assassinations. Bonfire of the Vanities involves Ezio killing nine lieutenants of Savonarola across the city, concluding with the capture and death of the priest himself. The missions are much more varied than Battle of Forli and each assassination feels unique compared to the others. The reason for this is pretty simple, as each lieutenant is placed in a different location that require different strategies of reaching them, with different conditions for success, yet there is still some freedom in achieving these goals. This is very similar to the very first game where Altair killed nine Templars scattered across the game, so I suspect this was a very intentional homage towards the roots of the franchise. The conclusion is also much more meaningful, as it consists of a powerful message from Ezio towards a confused and enraged crowd as they watch the body of the priest burn on a pyre. It overall feels like a much better mini-story compared to the Battle of Forli, and it is a chain of missions that I wish I could play again. There are some minor graphical and audio issues during it that make it seem like it might have been rushed or of low priority like Forli, but they do not detract much from the overall experience.

    Verdict on both DLC's

    Overall, both of the DLC memory sequences are good additions to the campaign. They both add more to the story of Ezio and his quest to free the people of Italy of Templar control. Both cost four dollars which is pretty cheap for a DLC and each provide an hour to and hour and a half of play or more depending on how fast one goes through the missions, with Bonfire of the Vanities always taking more time due to the sheer nature of assassination missions. They do have some minor problems though. The Battle of Forli does feel like one constant battle, but the actions of NPC’s in the city make it seem like its just a regular day, despite the fighting taking place between the guards of the city and the occupying soldiers. It feels like they could have done a bit more to make it seem like a city under siege. Perhaps it was an issue of time and development resources, but it makes it look like the developers were being a bit lazy with the Battle of Forli.
    Here’s the problem with these DLC sequences; there is literally no reason that they should have been made into DLCs. Unlike DLC campaigns that are attached to later Assassin’s Creed games, these sequences take place in the very middle of Ezio’s story during a large period of time that the original campaign skips if you have not acquired the missions. That means that you are literally skipping over a large part of the story. In a way, this is not a huge issue as the consequences of the missing Apple is resolved by the end, so even if you skipped over it you would not realize that the Apple had ever left the Assassin’s after reacquiring it.
    However in hindsight it does explain why nothing happened during the decade or so that the two sequences take place in when compared to the original game; with no Apple and originally no idea who took it, both the Assassins and the Templars were at a stalemate. For nearly ten years in the context of the game, nothing happened, and without the two sequences, it makes no sense to us as a player. That is a frustrating revelation, and should not have been the case. I do not mind paying for extra content as long as that content is exactly that; extra. But these two memories have been ripped out of the main story and that does have some minor consequences on how that story is presented. The issue is compounded by the fact that both of these DLC’s were originally released months after the main game, leaving any impact that they could have on players to be minimal as by then most players might not even remember what leads into those two memory sequences. That, in my mind, is unacceptable on Ubisoft’s part. Besides that, is it worth the cost? Two to three hours of extra content that you can, in theory, not even realize is wholly important to the story for a grand total of eight bucks? That is something I cannot really say for sure. However, since I am playing this now on the PS4 Ezio Collection that gives all DLC for free, I can say that the extra missions are good and it does not hurt to play them. In fact, I think they become mandatory in this version of the game, so you might as well sit back and do them anyway.

    Thankfully, none of these issues detract from the actual quality of the gameplay experience. There are some issues to be sure, but these sequences are still a fun way to spend more time with Ezio during this time period. I can think of worse ways to spend your time and money. Because of this, I would argue that any fan of Assassin’s Creed would do well to play these in order to better understand his story as well as the complete story of the Apple of Eden.

    Battle of Forli: 7.5/10
    Bonfire of the Vanities: 8/10

    (Special thanks to Radboud and Inarus for helping me with creating the poster image at the top)
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Commissar Caligula_'s Avatar
      Commissar Caligula_ -
      Words are cut off at the end of each sentence. Might just be the resolution I'm viewing it on?

      I never got around to playing any of the DLC, although Bonfire of the Vanities sounds interesting in that it actually involves assassinating people, like in Assassin's Creed 1.
    1. TheDarkKnight's Avatar
      TheDarkKnight -
      Hmmm that's weird. Never had that problem

      Fixed it.

      In any case...it's not a necessary story or stories to play but it definitely fills a gap in the story that always bugged me.
    1. Alwyn's Avatar
      Alwyn -
      Good review, it's helpful to see how these two DLCs compare to each other as well as how they compare to the main campaign. It sounds like these are enjoyable additions to the story. I like the sound of a series of challenges in which different strategies are needed and where there is some freedom to achieve the goals in different ways.
    1. Mhaedros's Avatar
      Mhaedros -
      And so Chris has finished the AC2 saga Great review, I just hope it gets a switch port someday to be honest (the game not the review).
    1. TheDarkKnight's Avatar
      TheDarkKnight -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mhaedros View Post
      And so Chris has finished the AC2 saga Great review, I just hope it gets a switch port someday to be honest (the game not the review).
      I would argue that I am not done with the AC2 Saga until I am done with Brotherhood and Revelations plus their DLCs...So...four more reviews to go!

      Then I need to review Black Flag and Freedom Cry on PS4...