Batman: Arkham City – Robin DLC Bundle Review

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: November 22, 2011 (or day one if you bought the core game from Best Buy)

Two trailer park girls go ’round the outside, ’round the outside, ’round the outside… Okay enough with shenanigans with comparing Robin to Eminem’s likeness in the “Without Me” video (but seriously I can’t get over it). Like Nightwing (being just as much of a mute), a new character has been thrown in the Batman: Arkham City pantheon of heroes to play as. Robin has had this stigma as being the pathetic asshole sidekick that Batman lugs around Gotham City for… well I don’t really know. Sidekicks don’t really get a fair wrap these days and when you’re second in command to Batman, you’ll always seem like a worthless prick. Thankfully, this DLC expels these conjured up negative feelings I had towards Robin, as he carries the Arkham City tradition of being fun as hell to play as.

Robin has basically the same root set of moves as Batman, as he should. Stunning, countering, dodging, and attacking all function similarly which makes getting into this character a breeze. He does, however, differ in a few ways. His special moves involve the popular instant takedown that everyone has, wide stun move (sort of like Batman’s bat stun ability), and, my favorite, the throw takedown. When you press the dodge and stun buttons simultaneously, Robin grabs the thug you are aimed and throws him into another enemy. It reminds me of the throw move in Arkham Asylum, but this has a better chance of knocking out more guys in the process. I was glad to see this move live on through Batman’s apprentice.

Not as many gadgets have been carried over besides the batarang knock-offs and explosive gel, making Robin a bit more diverse in that sense. The grapnel kick has been swapped out for the zip kick, which brings Robin swiftly to the target, kicking him in the mouth in the process. Double tapping the crouch button brings out the bullet shield, which, in combat, acts as a fast way to knock someone over. In stealth modes, the shield blocks bullets and gives you time to escape, making it a nice addition if you find yourself in a pinch. Another new gadget is the snap blast which is something new the series hasn’t seen. Predator modes have it where you pin a patch to an unsuspecting enemy’s back, detonating it when you please. It would be easier to just use a silent takedown if you were that close, but I’m sure there is some strategy that I just couldn’t push my monkey brain to figure out. Combat has a much more interesting take on this piece of hardware. Using its quickfire button combo, Robin will take a second and slap it on an opponent’s backside. If it is successful, the large blast radius puts a large amount of foes helpless on the ground, each begging for a ground takedown. That is, if you can pull it off. This move takes a few seconds to execute, throwing in an interesting risk and reward situation into the tense, hectic combat.

The $7 you’ll spend on Robin (unless you’re one of the people who purchased the game at Best Buy) will also net you some challenge maps. The predator map is nothing out of the ordinary, as it is a fun map playable with all characters, but the combat map deserves to be broken down. It doesn’t follow the formula of arena based combat, but instead goes for a brawler-like side-scrolling affair on a train with a fight against Black Mask at the end. I like how it tried to go for a different feel and it’s not a complete train wreck (pun sort of intended), but it doesn’t work out as much as the other traditional maps. The side of the train obstructs most of the view you get, meaning cheap hits can happen if you aren’t careful. Also, a big part in how I play this game depends on how I position the camera, something this map doesn’t offer because of its two-dimensional perspective. I had a hard time telling what direction my character was facing too, meaning combos would get more easily messed up and I get hit more times in the process. Taking a risk in changing it up is respectable, but it doesn’t always result in a golden map.

With that slight map quibble aside and along with him being completely quiet, I still wholly recommend Arkham City fans (which should be everyone) picking this one up through their platform’s downloadable service. More, slightly tweaked characters is such a fantastic way to extend the life of a title, especially one that is this good. Robin can also be played in any other of the maps with his own medals, meaning you may never get to put this game down if you want to go for everything. Besides being a good piece of meaty, retroactive content, Robin has relinquished my personal thought of him just being Batman’s bitch, which may be a bigger win in the grand scheme of things.

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