Assassins Creed 2: The Battle of Forli DLC Review
Spoiler Warning: Some details about the missions and structure
320 MS Points or £2.74 is so close to nothing at all that I really have no expectations for something that costs that much. I’ve spent more than that on a damn coffee. For the opportunity to play some more Assassin’s Creed 2, however crappy it may or may not be, definitely is worth it to me.
When I loaded my post-completion save, Ezio immediately dropped dead and was loaded back up in Forli. You've got to love the janky things that developers have to do to get things working sometimes. While obsessively exploring the main game in my traditional style I had already completely cleared out this area of content, so I am already quite familiar with what Forli is all about. At the time I remember thinking it odd that they’d make a whole really unique looking area and introduce an important seeming character merely to be a tutorial on boat controls, so I am glad to be able to spend some quality time in this broody and depressing city. Upon arriving in Forli, the game quickly flashed up a couple of sentences describing what was happening in the story at this point in time, and two new memories appeared icons appeared on the map.
On of these icons is a ‘special’ memory which is basically a way to have a go on the flying machine again whenever you want, particularly useful if you didn’t managed to get the kicking achievement the first time through, though I’d probably argue that a real chapter select feature would be more effective. In this ‘additional special extra’ flying memory, they’ve set up fires all round Forli to keep you aloft, and you can fly around kicking guards till you inevitably crash into something. The first real memory sequence serves as an intro to the DLC and somehow flashes you back to Leonardo’s workshop in Venice and tells you to get your arse to Forli, where you already were... A bit clunky, but I guess it’s better than sending you to Venice to kick it off.
The first couple of missions involve a large scale attack on Forli, and have you running around while lots of enemies fight each other. Like the larger battles from the main game, these still aren’t the best. My main tactic is to find occupied soldiers and stick them in the back with a sword while they aren’t paying attention, rather than doing much one on one fighting. Unfortunately, for most of these sequences you have a couple of friendly characters to protect as well. As we all know, the world hates escort quests, so escort quests don’t seem like a good idea especially with the characters that have a tendency to run off, scale a building and gather up five soldiers to wail on them while you are left wondering what just happened. To be fair, none of them actually got killed so I guess it wasn’t too much of a pain. Still distracts you from any fun you might be having with the combat.
Okay, so checking the DNA menu, that’s half the blocks filled in after 30 minutes of playing, this seems like it might be a bit short (I am typing this as I am playing it!). To continue the annoying gameplay tropes, the next mission is an arbitrarily timed rescue mission! You have ten minutes to complete it for no adequately explained reason. I appear to of forgotten how to fight spear men in the time since I finished playing it, so one of those guys really gave me the business. The rest of the missions are either ‘go here for a cutscene’, or chasing someone down that you just met in a cutscene.
I feel like I should mention the main baddies of the chapter, two vaguely criminalish brothers. They have precisely 3 cutscenes worth of presence in the pack. The first cutscene where you meet them, and then one where you kill the first brother, and finally one where you kill the second one. I do wonder if this part of the game was originally supposed to be a bit longer, because I feel like the bit villains in the other chapters were built up slightly more than just this. The ending goes with a real whimper and basically tells you to go somewhere that isn’t Forli, and dumps you back to the post-game. I guess with the upcoming DLC pack Bonfire of the Vanities, this will lead into what you are doing there.
I think in the long run, the best way to enjoy this will be as part of the main game with it’s companion pack purchased as well. As there are no side-quests in the area other than in the original game, you can just blow right through it in under and hour. That along with none of the missions really playing to the strengths of the game means that on its own, it’s just a little bite of some of the lesser aspects of the main game. Like why isn’t there a single mission where you just kill someone who isn’t running, attacking an NPC, and with no time limit? Still, for £2.74 it’s hard to argue with the value.