Version tested Xbox 360
Spoiler alert: We've tried not to give much away here, but if you haven't finished ACII and don't want so much as a hint of what's to come, best come back when you're done.
Battle of Forli is a bit of an oddball in the world of downloadable content. Apparently culled from the original game in order to meet the deadline, it's essentially another excuse to sell diehard fans a 'deleted scene' to plug a gaping hole in the story.
It's a tactic that's catching on, and done properly, it's not necessarily as ugly and cynical as it appears. Gears of War 2's Road to Ruin DLC certainly proved that point forcefully with a slab of content that was well worth the asking price and pleasingly replayable to boot.
Ubisoft has similarly grand plans for the Assassin's Creed II DLC. Rather than simply bolt on an episode that has no real connection to the main storyline, both Battle of Forli and next month's Bonfire of The Vanities slot seamlessly into the existing game, effectively 'patching' in what was missing from the boxed release - for 320 Microsoft Points a pop, equivalent to £2.70 (PSN price TBC).
Let's face it, there was a fairly significant plot hole for Ubisoft to fill. Those of you who've already put the game through its paces will recall Rebecca Crane suddenly chiming in to inform Ezio that the next two sequences were 'corrupt'. Slightly ludicrously, the story skipped forward to the climactic sequence, and everyone was left wondering what happened in-between.
Well, wonder no more. Thanks to the magic of extra development time (and the lure of extra cash), the first of these corrupt sequences has been 'repaired'. The DLC allows you to rejoin the story in 1488 in Romagna. Ezio must journey to Caterina Sforza and battle his way into the Rocca di Ravaldino, the citadel inside the walled city of Forli.
Circumventing its watery defences as gaming's most athletic man, you spend much of your time battling alongside both Caterina Sforza and Niccolo Machiavelli - characters encountered briefly in the run-up to Sequence 12.
With most of your focus on protecting them from hapless guards, Battle of Forli quickly settles into a succession of regulation angry mob encounters, allowing Ezio to hack, slash, and occasionally shoot his way through a determined mob, while also keeping one eye on the respective health bars of Caterina and Niccolo.
Should either perish the game returns you to the last checkpoint, making the task at hand much more of a nannying process than usual. And stripped of your more powerful weaponry (such as your spear, axe, mace and longsword) the combat is, in theory, somewhat more challenging than it might otherwise be. You're forced to focus on attacking with double hidden blades, poison blade, throwing knives, pistol and smoke bombs.
The combat feels easier than ever, amplifying some of the foibles of the parent game - such as the ability to assassinate multiple characters in quick succession, making many of the 'battles' little more than perfunctory exercises. By simply hitting the attack button repeatedly at the start of the rumpus, you can take out at least three guards before they're even aware of the danger.