Ubisoft is in a privileged position with Assassin's Creed. It beat lukewarm reviews of the first game with a compelling, cryptic overarching story. It's created a world that people care about, a world so pregnant with confusion that we'll will happily stare at a wall full of jumbled letters in the hope that a clue will leap out. The Lost Archive feels a little bit like an abuse of that devotion.
The main chunk of the download is Subject 16's adventures in the Animus. Utterly absent is the elegant free-running that defines the series. The Lost Archive is, instead, a two-hour reprise of Desmond's block-conjuring platforming. The bits when you weren't doing the cool stuff, essentially.
In Revelations, these moments of first-person platforming were acceptable enough, a break from running from one end of Constantinople to the other, and back again. But as a stand-alone two-hour mission, and especially for 800MP, the action feels a little too thin.
You start with no powers - just tap A to do a weak-ankled hop. Hopping over tiny gaps between blocks isn't much fun, even in the forbidding, abstract landscapes of the Animus. You learn to conjure planks, and ramps, and eventually an impulse plate that can launch you into the air. The puzzles test these tools in every way imaginable, but that's not hard. They're not very versatile tools.
Solving a puzzle means progress, and progress triggers voiceovers, making this feel like a hugely simplified and jokeless take on Portal. If you came here for more story, it's mainly limited to Subject 16's identity, and Lucy's... well, any word here could be construed as a spoiler. There's not much about Desmond, and absolutely nothing about Ezio. There is, however, a bunch of cryptic codes and symbols towards the end, so expect some fevered analysis of those.
This is also a chance for anyone who didn't buy one of the many special editions of the game to unlock Vlad the Impaler's Prison. It's the only way to get Vlad's blade, and if you want to unlock it, make sure you check out the books in Sofia Sartor's house - that'll add it to your map. You'll also unlock the Crusader and Ottoman Jester multiplayer characters - also a limited edition exclusive, until now.
It's a slightly insulting bonus for people who forked out for the many and varied special editions, as they're precisely the kind of devotees who'll want to play this. But for the rest of us, any extra addition to this overpriced underexpansion is welcome.
The Lost Archive will blast an evening from your life, and give you something minor to chew on until Assassin's Creed 3. But this udder sac is pretty much drained.
Probably not what everyone wanted
- Abstract puzzle action
- Friendly difficulty level
- First-person platformers are not great
- Light on story