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Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – The Da Vinci Disappearance DLC review

By the end of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Ezio Auditore has effectively conquered Rome and eliminated the heads of the Borgia family, but that doesn’t mean his story has to be over. There’s still a lot of content that can potentially be wrung out of the Renaissance setting, and hell, one of Assassin’s Creed’s most interesting characters – the series’ manic version of Leonardo Da Vinci – was relegated to a practically insignificant role in Brotherhood’s story, reduced to selling Ezio a handful of upgrades instead of being an awesome font of creativity and story progression.

Above: Look at that haggard expression. Da Vinci clearly knows he was underutilized

To correct this gross oversight, The Da Vinci Disappearance add-on revolves almost entirely around the artist-engineer, delivering a new eight-mission storyline that picks up shortly after the Borgias are kicked out of Rome (along with a few multiplayer additions to really make it worth the $10 or 800 MS Points). As the name implies, though, Leonardo doesn’t appear in it too often; aside from showing up at the beginning and the end, he spends most of the new adventure kidnapped by the Hermeticists – a shadowy cult that follows the teachings of Greek mathematician Pythagoras – leaving it to Ezio to track him down.

Doing that means deciphering clues Leonardo left behind in paintings given to Ezio – which, since the destruction of Ezio’s villa, have been scattered all over the place (naturally). During his search, Ezio will run into a few familiar faces, do a lot of sneaking (and a lot of fighting), and enlist the help of Leonardo’s heretofore-unseen apprentice/lover, Salai.

Showing up on the map during normal play as “Recovered Memories,” the new missions shouldn’t take most players more than a couple of hours to finish. They’re still pretty substantial, though, adding a couple of new platform-puzzle locations to the game and interspersing various stealth-based objectives with battles against hordes of brown-robed Hermeticists (who incidentally can be looted for enough cool items to fulfill most of the shop quests, if you haven’t already).

Above: These guys are basically treasure chests with cruddier dress sense

It’s worth noting that fully half the missions feature some kind of stealth segment in which being seen equals instant failure, and that’s lame (although considering that most of the people downloading this will likely be pretty far along in the core game, it has to challenge powerful players somehow.) Assuming you can look past that, though, there are plenty of more enjoyable things to do, like beating up a crowd of thugs hired by one of Ezio’s old enemies, or scanning Leonardo’s paintings (once you’ve collected them all) for clues to his whereabouts.

On the multiplayer front, The Da Vinci Disappearance brings a new map (patterned after Spain’s famous Alhambra palace), four new Templar characters and two new match types, Assassinate and Escort. Assassinate is a little difficult to get used to at first; basically a deathmatch, it tasks players with roaming around, stalking anyone you think might be another player and then – when you’re sure – murdering them. Tagging other characters for assassination takes practice, as the targeting reticule is kind of unreliable, but the randomness of it adds a bigger – and oddly more fun – element of uncertainty.

In Escort, meanwhile, one team of four players has to escort a VIP to a designated safe zone, while the other team tries to hunt them down. Identifying the other team out in the open isn’t too hard, since everyone on a team has to use the same character model, and it’s a little too easy to get separated from your VIP if you’re one of the defenders, but it’s still pretty enjoyable. Just maybe not quite as enjoyable as some of the other modes.

Rounding out the package is a new collection of Achievements/Trophies, only a couple of which directly relate to the add-on itself. The others are weird challenges, like killing a guard with the bag from a lift, throwing weapons at guards or stealing horses by leaping from one to another. Weird or no, though, they’re a fun reason to keep playing – as is everything else in The Da Vinci Disappearance. It’s occasionally frustrating, a little short and a little too heavy on stealth, but fans who think they’ve exhausted Brotherhood’s potential will definitely want to grab this.

Mar 8, 2011

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After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.