Leonardo da Vinci spent a lot of time in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood sitting on benches, waiting for Ezio to sit next to him. Developer Ubisoft Montreal has decided it's time for the artist/inventor to take a more central role, hence The Da Vinci Disappearance, an upcoming add-on that sends you back to Rome to uncover more of the Renaissance's conspiratorial secrets. At Microsoft's 2011 February Games Showcase, we played the DLC's first five missions, which reintroduce sexy siren Lucretia Borgia, along with a new character, da Vinci's flamboyant assistant.
The content is integrated into the main game, so you can play the Disappearance missions anytime after Sequence 3. As Ezio, you begin the related missions with a visit to Leonardo's workshop, where the master is researching the matter of heavenly spheres and symbols and how they may relate to the all-important Apple of Eden. Ezio's concern is a ship captain Leonardo might introduce him to, but he has forgotten the captain's name and suggests you speak to Salai, Leonardo's assistant.
You find Salai in the nearby Thieves' Guild, and he makes an immediate impression. His curled locks cascade down the sides of his face, and he suggestively remarks to Ezio that he has a special interest in men, after complimenting Ezio's hood. You leave with Salai, and after a short battle with the guild's guards, you follow the assistant through streets and across rooftops as he explains that Leonardo has been acting strangely, always consumed with his enigmatic new project. And it's clear that this project concerns others as well, for when you return to the workshop, Leonardo is missing, having apparently left a short message scratched on the floor. Ezio deduces from the message that the answers lie in the paintings he thought burned in the villa's fires. But as it turns out, they are in the Borgias' possession--and so he makes off for Lucretia's country manor to retrieve them.
The following sequence has you stealthily leaping across the palace's beams and running along ropes while avoiding the guards patrolling below. As in Brotherhood's lairs, the camera often turns to communicate the next jump in the sequence, though the second half of this mission, which takes place in a courtyard, gives you more freedom of movement. Once inside, Ezio confronts Lucretia in a sexy scene in which Ezio turns on the charm--only to leave Lucretia high and dry. The mission ends with a high-adrenaline chase sequence in which you must escape a horde of angry guards.
This manor is one of two new environments The Da Vinci Disappearance will introduce, though Ubisoft was tight-lipped on what the second area might be. Fortunately, Assassin's Creed fans needn't wait long: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - The Da Vinci Disappearance arrives on March 8, 2011.