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The Borgia have fallen. Rome has been restored. There is peace (relatively speaking) at last. Time for Ezio to put his feet up right? Wrong. The year is 1506, and a new cult has arisen and come to prominence from the shadows. Known as The Hermeticists, they are the main antagonists you face in Ubisoft's newest helping of downloadable content for its flagship franchise.
Ezio comes into conflict with the group (who all happen to bear a striking resemblance to La Volpe in their dress sense) as a direct result of their kidnapping the famed polymath (and Ezio's good friend) Leonardo Da Vinci, as well as their attack on himself and Leonardo's apprentice/ lover, Salai. This sequence of events sets the scene for another jaunt across Italy, as you set out to locate and recover 5 of Leo's lost paintings, which hold the key to getting him back. If and when you do get Leo back, you both then proceed on to the mysterious Pythagorean Temple, which Leo had discovered prior to his kidnap.
The initial stages of this new adventure have a very Splinter Cell-esque feel to it. Despite Ezio's numerous skills, stealth and non detection are the watchwords you need to keep close to throughout. Certain sections will automatically de-synch you if you get detected. Others will just make your life incredibly difficult. Interestingly enough, if you have Assassins (or recruits) available, they can come to your aid at various points of the journey. There is even (SPOILER WARNING) one of the new achievements that requires you to make use of them.
Ubisoft does extremely well to showcase all of Ezio's talent, including some superhuman sleuthing that would put Batman and Superman to shame. Jokes aside, it makes for great pacing, in amongst all the stabbing, chasing, rooftop running and stabbing (poison makes for an excellent distraction when you absolutely have to move guards from one spot to another)
All in all, the Da Vinci Disappearance is a fun addition to what was already an excellent single player campaign. On average, it will take players about 2 hours to complete, and the 360 version adds 10 achievements for a total of 250 Gamerscore. The Da Vinci Disappearance is immediately accessible upon download (1.6GB) from the map as a restored memory for Desmond. A brief reference is made to Desmond's current plight as seen at the end credits of the main single player story. Be sure to pay close attention, as there is some info at the end sure to generate even more debate.
The multiplayer component of the DLC sees the introduction of 1 new map, 2 new game modes (Escort and Assassinate) and 4 new characters.
Players who are already at Level 50 and have unlocked Elite Gear and Extra Colours for their personas can immediately have access to that gear and colour sets for the new characters.
The Escort Game mode sees 2 teams of up to 4, each having to either protect or assassinate designated VIP targets. The HUNTER team have to kill the VIPs, but can only stun the PROTECTORS. Those PROTECTORS need to keep the VIP alive along a set path, and kill any HUNTERS trying to get to the VIP. The PROTECTOR team score points each time the VIP reaches a checkpoint. For them, quality kills, as well as good escort skills are the key. Each round lasts 4 minutes, after which, the roles are reversed.
The Assassinate mode sees a departure from the
"cat and mouse" game that players have become used to, especially in
Wanted mode. This takes on a more deathmatch style free for all, where the
objective is for players to identify other Templars. Potential targets are
marked on the compass. You'll have to observe suspicious behaviour and attempt
to assassinate targets without exposing yourself. To secure a contract on a
potential target, the player must lock on. Cue plenty of Templars dropping dead
from sneaky poison kills in this mode.
It is good to see that Ubisoft have taken notice of the pleas from fans, and merged the other two Animus Project updates into this one. Both the Escort and Assassinate modes appear in rotation on both the day and night versions of Mont St Michel (Animus Update 1) and Pienza (Animus Update 2). Furthermore, Chest Capture showed up in rotation on the day and night versions of the new map, Alhambra.
The Da Vinci Disappearance DLC pack continues Ubisoft's strong content support for Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. At 800 MS Points, this is extremely good value for money, be you a fan of the mystery and intrigue of the single player story, or a paranoid Templar agent who drops smoke bombs at the slightest sign of trouble in the multiplayer Animus.