Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tale of the Tape: Battle of Forli vs. Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Part 2

ROUND 2: Scope
Battle of Forli doesn't take us to any new places. Literally. You'll revisit the Forli map, where you had previously completed a short mission to rescue the apparently hydrophobic Catarina from, um, a few feet of water. (It's especially strange, then, that this same damsel in distress becomes a knife-wielding combatant who has no problem battling multiple enemies at once in the DLC.) Although you'll get to climb a couple buildings you might not have climbed before, the DLC adds no new maps, which I found disappointing. You'll get to complete six new missions, plus an optional bonus sequence on Leonardo's flying machine. These are all straightforward affairs which, while true to the ACII recipe, don't add much variety to the core game. The animations during the cutscenes are up to ACII's high standard, but the lack of new enemy types and the unmemorable antagonists, the Orci brothers, dull the experience. While Battle of Forli provides a welcome return to Ezio's world, it would have been nice if it took us to a new place in that world.

In contrast, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned offers four new maps, 25 new missions, the new enemy types and bosses described in the last entry, and a few fun surprises. One of these was the return of a previously introduced character - I won't spoil it, but you'll recognize this person right away. If you pay attention, there are a bunch of hilarious Easter eggs here too, including references to Thriller and Scooby-Doo. I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times, which made me appreciate the effort that went into creating these little moments. Oh, and those of us with Achievement/Trophy fetishes will also enjoy the five new ones Dr. Ned adds, especially in contrast to the zero offered by Battle of Forli. Overall, there's a lot of new content and variety here, adding several hours of gameplay and new opportunities to level up your character. Nothing about Dr. Ned felt tacked-on; while Battle of Forli is the videogame equivalent of a deleted scene on a DVD - something the very conceit of the "missing memory" makes obvious - Dr. Ned is a true extension of the core game, something added to the experience, not something taken away and then shoehorned back in for a few bucks.

ROUND 2 WINNER: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned

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