The year is 1506 and after decades of torment, the Borgia influence in Rome is no more. Ezio is still his chipper self and the self-contained story that extends from within the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood DLC, The Da Vinci Disappearance, sees the cocky Italian search for clues following the disappearance of one of his closest friends, a Mr Leonardo Da Vinci.
The 8 mission strong DLC’s first mission kicks off in Da Vinci’s workshop. Da Vinci doesn’t seem his usual spunky self, and in a conversation with Ezio explains his displeasure with one of his upcoming paintings – a half-smiling portrait of a young lass called Lisa. It’s here where Da Vinci asks Ezio to head over to the Thieve’s Guild to get his apprentice, Salai, and bring him back to Da Vinci to assist him. Being the ever helpful friend, Ezio heads off to drag back the young apprentice.
The first mission then is a combat and avoidance heavy mission that has you pull Salai from amidst a dice game at the Thieve’s Guild, moments before being ambushed by a cult known as the Hermeticists. After dispatching a good 10-12 guards to meet their maker, Ezio must then make his way back to Da Vinci’s workshop, taking down any cult follower along the way towards the beginning and avoiding the heat near the end of the mission as the pair reach their final destination.
Upon arrival at the workshop, the pair are shocked to discover that Da Vinci has been kidnapped by the clan and it’s then up to Ezio to locate the five missing paintings that contain clues to Da Vinci’s whereabouts. Simple, right? Well, no, as Ezio will have to traipse across the whole of Rome to find these sought after paintings. Our first destination? Lucrezia’s Palazzo out in the countryside.
The Belriguardo Palazzo is about as prestigious as country homes get in Rome and seems to be about as well armed as a castle would be. Seeing as the 100% synchronisation for this mission was to get in without killing anyone, we opted to take a route through the barn, rather than wade in through the heavily fortified front gates.
The barn is as traditional as Assassin’s Creed interior navigations get, but even now, I have to say, it’s as thrilling as ever. Sure, they’re easy enough and it’s just a matter of steering the assassin in the right direction, but it still truly feels like you have the power of the assassin at your fingertips. After managing to traverse the rafters of the barn without being seen, we find ourselves in the picturesque yard, surrounded by guards, tall hedges, gazeboes drenched in lingering vines and the odd fountain or two.
Like a true assassin, we’re through the yard, following the almost pre-determined route of setup obstacles without being seen and we’re inside via an open window. A cutscene and encounter with Lucrezia later and we’re being pursued through the mansion’s grounds. With the timer ticking down and guards pouring in from all angles, we momentarily forget about the synchronisation goal and stab two guards in the neck. Oops! Oh well, that doesn’t break our stride and after navigating the exterior of the mansion we were able to dive out of an opening into a bail of hay, where we also managed to find the painting we were after with a stack of other paintings in a trailer out back. Result! That about wrapped up our hands-on, and considering that sequence of events – and two missions of the eight – took around 40 minutes, the longevity of the DLC is definitely not going to be The Da Vinci Disappearance’s sticking point. Plus, it’s the traditional Assassin’s Creed gameplay we’ve come to love, which can’t be bad.
It’s not just single-player DLC that The Da Vinci disappearance offers either, and for those invested in the multiplayer, there’s something in there for you too; including a new map set in Spain called Alhambra, four new character skins - the Pariah, the Dama Rossa, the Marquis and the Knight – as well as two new multiplayer modes called Escort and Assassinate. While Escort offers a team-based VIP protection and assassination mode, Assassinate offers players a more traditional straight up deathmatch.
After the disappointment that was the Assassin’s Creed II DLC, The Da Vinci disappearance looks set to wipe that dirty mark from the otherwise excellent Assassin’s Creed slate. With 2-3 hours of single-player and story-driven content, four new character skins, a new map and two new game modes, The Da Vinci Disappearance seems to be shaping up nicely to deliver a hell of a lot of content for what is a more than affordable price… which is a far cry from anything that preceded Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s The Da Vinci Disappearance DLC is heading your way on March 8th for $9.99.