Initially scrapped from the main game due to time constraints, Battle of Forli seems like an acceptable casualty in Ubisoft's war to complete Assassin's Creed 2. Considering the grandeur of Ezio's quest, it's easy to see why this man got left behind -- or woman, rather.
In a significant upgrade from her brief role as glorified gondola tutorial, Caterina Sforza assumes the role of leader and custodian of Forli, the drab, melancholy settlement that acted as a rest stop on the way to Venice in Assassin's Creed 2. Ezio's unacknowledged meddling with 15th-century history proves to be the biggest draw of this DLC subplot, even though most of his participation involves putting sharp things through soft spots.
Unfortunately, that's where Sequence 12 (one of two missing segments to be woven into the game's overall story) gets off to a rough start. One of your first tasks is to protect Sforza and tag-along Machiavelli from a screen-cluttering mess of enemies (it's not called Mild Scuffle of Forli, after all) that can easily obscure Ezio himself. If you didn't like the combat in the game, this part will almost certainly cut away at your enjoyment.
It isn't until after the fighting takes a break that a pressured rescue mission swoops in to save the day, along with some good ol' assassination. It's more Assassin's Creed 2, and while these missions don't stand out as some of the game's best, they do provide some worthwhile background (in lieu of any Achievements, apparently). Much like a movie DVD's offering of a deleted scene, it's something non-essential that eager fans will find of interest.
That being said, I'd recommend playing Battle of Forli alongside next month's Bonfire of the Vanities DLC. There appears to be an interesting story connecting the two, and the latter's presence will bolster the underwhelming, one-hour length of this first pack.
Battle of Forli will be available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this Thursday, January 28, for 320 MS points / $3.99.
Editors' note: This review is based on Xbox 360 downloadable content provided by Ubisoft.