Warning: Due to the fact that these add-on packs take place during the final chapters of Assassin’s Creed II, this review unavoidably contains spoilers for Assassin’s Creed II.
Before we all begin salivating over the who’s, what’s and where’s of Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft has breathed more life into one of last year’s best games by offering two add-on packs for console gamers. And for that, I’m gateful. And you should be too.
While most add-on or expansion packs place their content at the end of their host game, or the content takes place entirely outside of the original storyline, Sequence 12 and 13 fall right into the main story of Assassin’s Creed II which makes them unique as far as expansion packs go. They flesh out a small piece of the story that isn’t 100% necessary to the overall arc of Assassin’s Creed II, but Memory Sequences 12 and 13 are certainly a welcome addition. While the expansions do have their downsides, overall, they’re a must-buy for fans of the Assassin’s Creed series.
Sequence 12: Battle of Forli
Shortly after Ezio wins the Apple from the Spaniard, the Assassin Order gathers together to discuss their newly won prize. After some minor experimentation, Ezio, Leonardo, Uncle Mario, and Machiavelli realize the danger the Apple represents. The Assassins decide to safeguard it against future Templar attacks in the largest fortress available to them — Lady Catarina Sforza’s fortress at Forli.
While at Forli, Ezio meets up again with Catarina — the woman who was stranded near the docks in Romagna — outside of town. Before Ezio and Catarina can make it back to the protection of Sforza’s city walls, the townspeople approach the Assassins and inform them that the town is under attack by mercenaries hired by the Templars. From there, the add-on packs unfold at a breakneck pace as Ezio does everything in his power to help Lady Catarina and her besieged city.
Out of the two repaired memories, Sequence 12 is more story-heavy and less action oriented. But that is not to say there isn’t anything or anyone to stab. The action in Sequence 12 is mostly based around surprisingly non-annoying escort missions, rescue missions, and an investigation that grants fans more insight into the power of the Pieces of Eden.
The story of Sequence 12 isn’t groundbreaking, but it is more than enough to hold the audience’s attention. It ends with a cliffhanger and it definitely adds a nice change of pace to the overall story of AC2.
Unfortunately, without playing through Sequence 12, Sequence 13 will make little sense. Not only is Sequence 12 the more story-driven of the two, but it is also the shorter of the two add-ons. For a mere $3.99 it’s downright silly to pass up this canonical extension.
Sequence 13: Bonfire of the Vanities
After tracking down the location of the missing Apple, Ezio must assassinate a corrupt member of the church before his influence is spread beyond the city’s borders. But before Ezio can directly confront the corrupted preacher, he must weaken the priest’s grasp of the community by first eliminating all his lieutenants in Florence. The missions that follow are without question the best stealth gameplay missions the series has seen. They embody everything that everyone loves about the Assassin’s Creed series. In fact, they remind me a lot of the original trailer for Assassin’s Creed that got everyone’s appetites whet in the first place.
Each lieutenant must first be located, then killed. Some need to be chased through the streets and rooftops of Florence in order to be assassinated, which makes for exciting gameplay. But most can be taken by surprise by hiding in the crowds, secretly eliminating guards, or hiding in haystacks and discreet locations. Each lieutenant is heavily guarded; much more heavily than most targets found in the Assassin’s Creed series. In the end, each kill is satisfying. Each kill feels very “earned” like a bird who has captured his prey.
Light on the story/ heavy on the stabbing, Sequence 13 has won a special place in my heart, right between buffalo chicken pizza and that feeling you get when a newegg.com package arrives in the mail. I’m convinced that if this content was present in the original release, Assassin’s Creed II might have won a few more game of the year awards.
Priced at $6.99, Sequence 13 is a little more expensive than Sequence 12, but it’s also longer and more challenging than the greater portion of Assassin’s Creed II. The stealth gameplay is simply fantastic and sets the bar at a new high for the series. For all Assassin’s Creed fans who have made it this far into the storyline, this is a must buy.
The best part to both of these sequences if, if you’ve already finished the game, you can go back and automatically start these memories at your own pace. You don’t need to restart a fresh game to experience them. However, if you haven’t finished the game, these sequences are inserted in their proper order within the story, so they don’t feel “tacked on.” Kudos, Ubisoft.
The Downside to the Repaired Sequences
While these two add-on packs are certainly welcome, they aren’t without their own minor flaws.
Cloaks are disabled in the add-ons. Your Medici, Venetian and Auditore capes cannot be equipped in these sequences. Instead of the developers popping up a message stating “your _____ cloak will have no effect in this sequence,” the outfitting of the cloaks is entirely disabled. This is not a game-breaker. It’s very minor, but if you’re used to seeing your Ezio wearing the Venetian cape, you might be taken by surprise when it’s suddenly gone from your shoulder.
At the end of Sequence 13, Ezio makes a rather lengthy speech to the citizens of Florence. While there is nothing wrong with the delivery of the speech, the content of the speech itself seems unfit for Ezio’s character. Ezio, like Altair, doesn’t seem to be the preachy type. But this speech seems to be a bit of the contrary. Again, this isn’t a game breaker and it’s a very minor gripe. It just doesn’t fit entirely with the character of Ezio.
Finally, it seems to be a poor decision to package the two sequences separately. They’re both very small. One is necessary to the other. Sequence 12 ends in suspense and Sequence 13 will make no sense to gamers without the story of Sequence 12. Why not simply package the two together and sell them that way? Together, they could have stood to win DLC of the year, but apart neither really stands a chance.
All in all, for a total of $10.98, Assassin’s Creed fans are in for a real bargain.
NOW let the speculation for Assassin’s Creed III begin!