For the most part, though, these assassination missions aren't much of a challenge, and they tend blur into one another as you quickly realise you're going through the motions. There's precious little invention, and no real narrative hook to drive you from one to the next. As beautiful as the game world is, and as slick as the mechanics are, you find yourself wishing that the DLC would dare to do something outside of the basic comfort zone.
With no more upgrades or new weapons to play for, the incentive to keep plugging away fades very quickly. Strangely the package doesn't even offer the added bonus of extra Achievement points or Trophies, leaving what feels like a meaningless bolt-on. The addition of the new Spring Jump move is utterly superfluous, and made worse by the fact that the game fails to adequately demonstrate how you use it, or in which context. The truth is that you never need to use it even once.
Also to make matters needlessly complicated, there are actually two distinct options for buying The Bonfire of the Vanities DLC. One simply tacks on Memory Sequence 13 into the game for your 320 points, while the other also adds three new Templars' Lairs to explore for an all-inclusive price of 560 points. If you bought the limited edition Black version of the game, then you'll own all the Templars' Lairs already, but for everyone else the more expensive option is well worth the extra. Sadly you can't actually buy the Templars' Lairs separately if you happen to buy the cheaper pack first.
That annoyance to one side, all three Templars' Lairs are well worth investigating, adding the kind of hand-crafted experiences that we all hoped the other DLC would provide. As ever, the general idea is to explore the innards of an intricate interior location in search of treasure. Spiritually aligned to both Prince of Persia and Tomb Raider, the emphasis is firmly on athletic platform-puzzling, with plenty of patient trial-and-error required to pick your way through these devious locations. Occasionally a chase ensues, or a minor scuffle, but for the most part the emphasis is firmly on figuring out how to get from A to B.
As usual, a little persistence goes a long way with these enjoyable nuggets, offering a welcome change of emphasis to what's usually expected from Ezio. Although the additional Templars' Lairs are nowhere near as challenging as some of those featured in the main game, they still offer a good hour or so of absorbing entertainment that works better as downloadable content than the "deleted scenes".
Now that we've finally experienced all 14 memory sequences, it's easy to see why 12 and 13 were removed from the final cut, such is the humdrum nature of the missions. As much as the delightful cut-scenes provide interesting insight into the events leading up to the climax, the tasks provided for you amount to little more than half-baked side-quests that most people would have ignored the first time around.
Completists will certainly enjoy the three Templars' Lairs bundled alongside The Bonfire of the Vanities, but being forced to buy the accompanying memory sequence to access them leaves a bad taste in the mouth. If Ubisoft plans to release any more DLC for Assassin's Creed II, then some serious quality control is in order.
6 / 10