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ACII DLC: Bonfire of the Vanities

The second and final piece of DLC for Assassin’s Creed 2 has just been released this Thursday on the Xbox Live marketplace and PSN. However two versions are up for purchase: The standard version that comes with the 10 memories or the deluxe version that includes 3 secret templar locations, previously only available in the special Black edition of Assassin’s Creed 2. The normal version is priced at $4 or about £3 and the deluxe version at $6.50 or about £5. Both versions include 10 new memories, a new area of Florence and a new move, the spring-jump. This chapter is all about trying to get back the piece of Eden stolen by the monk Savonaralo who is now using it to control Florence.  I bought the deluxe edition simply because I loved the interior/Assassin’s Tomb sections in AC2 and wanted more for, what I though was, a reasonable price. 

As I said before this DLC is about mainly about taking down Savonaralo. So you meet with your friend Machiavelli who fills you in on the situation; Savonaralo is using the piece of Eden to take control of various figures of mild power and influence to take control of the rest of the citizens for Florence. He’s then got all of them to get all the books and paintings and burn them in large bonfires, hence the name.  You then get round to plotting, Savonaralo is too powerful to get so you decide to go after his lieutenants, 9 in total. With them dead he should lose influence and the disgruntled citizens should do the rest. Cue 9 assassination missions. Now when this first popped up I sighed, my bad experience with the assassination missions in AC2 had left a bitter taste in my mouth but I was pleasantly surprised. I expected 9 very repetitive, unexciting and overall short lived missions but what I got was quite the contrary. The 9 assassinations missions come in a variety of forms: some you can just charge in while other have to be done without being spotted. There were two especially fun missions. One was a stealth mission, your target was on a boat and you had to swim around and pull people off the sides without the others spotting you. I required timing and skill but was very fun. The other one was the polar opposite. You start the mission in a closed off square, your target spots you and sends down his guards. once you kill them you climb a ladder to the roof of a church and have a massive sword fight on the roof, before killing your target. All I can say was, apart from being incredibly fun, it also looked epic, like something straight from Hollywood. The other 7 missions are good too, but these were my personal favourites. Once you have killed all 9 men the citizens rebel and send Savonaralo to a fiery death. That leaves you free to grab the piece of Eden before heading off on your mission to Rome.

Now game also unlocks the southern district of Florence, separated by the river Arno. It roughly half the size of Florence but is interesting enough. The DLC also features a new move the “spring-jump”. I was actually quite excited about this. I, like many others, had hoped it would be some new type of assassination move, where you spring across a plaza and stab your target in the face before you can say “renaissance”! The move, unfortunately, is basically a jump. Only it’s a jump that propels you slightly further (<—sarcasm)!  It’s very underwhelming, and that’s only added to by the fact it can only be done from certain flag polls that only appear in the southern district of Florence. So it’s an unexciting move that can’t be used in about 90% of the games, very disappointing.

I’m now going to go into the 3 secret locations you get with deluxe version of the DLC. The first is the Palazzo Medici, the home of the Medici family which has been invaded by Templars. Your mission is to rescue Lorenzo Medici from his treasure room (it’s a hard life) before the Templars get to him. This level is great fun, balancing platforming and combat perfectly. The second is the Santa Maria de Frarii, a church in Venice. It’s a level built entirely around climbing around the churches masonry in order to find yet another treasure room. This level is again good fun but does get a little repetitive especially after playing through some of the other Assassin’s tomb missions in ACII. The final mission is in the dry docks of Venice, called the Arsenal Shipyard. This is again a balance of platforming and combat as you make your way through drains and over half built ships. This was again a really fun mission, if not for the fairly good free running then for the enviroment. Over all I’d say these 3 locations are worth the extra £2 or $2.50. While they don’t add that much gameplay time the level are incredibly fun to play and are at some points quite a challenge. Even if the goal, the treasure rooms, do get very boring.

Overall quite good, it adds a good chunk of story and the assassination missions are some of the best in the game. It will keep you entertained for at least 2-3 hours and for any of you that have cold feet about the last DLC pack, do not fear, I’d recommend at least getting the basic version and if you enjoyed the Assassin’s tomb mission get the deluxe version.

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