Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: May 29, 2012 (PS3, Xbox 360); TBA (PC)
********MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.********
Any downloadable content latching onto Batman: Arkham City‘s runaway success would probably have an easy time. If you think about it, a game with such solid mechanics would probably just benefit from having more added onto it. Arkham City‘s newest DLC, named Harley Quinn’s Revenge, seemed like all it had to do was exist and it would get a free pass. Gameplay-wise, yes, it is the same ol’ Batman, but, narratively speaking, it doesn’t do much to reignite much interest.
Batman has been in a little bit of a mental pickle after the cavalcade of tragedies that came after Arkham City‘s conclusion. Joker and Talia croaked (well, one was brutally murdered) and Batman hasn’t been the same since, but he isn’t alone. Harley Quinn, now a mourning widow, switched her outfit to reflect her current sorrow, but has also taken hostages in her own personal area of Arkham City. On top of this, Batman has been missing for two days, which starts a search and rescue mission led by Robin. Perspective switches from each hero appropriately to take down Harley Quinn and save the day and put a stop to the insanity.
Arkham City‘s story was urgent and powerful, both of which factored into a pretty unforgettable narrative. Sadly, HQR‘s events aren’t really either. Story beats are fairly predictable and very run-of-the-mill. Hostages, keys, bombs, and the usual are all in effect here leaving everything to become rather hum drum. Harley Quinn doesn’t ever seem like much of a threat because her plans aren’t that grandiose. A handful of cops are in her possession for a few short hours, which is fairly tame given the other possible stakes.
Batman and Harley Quinn’s psyche aren’t ever delved into either. With the different wardrobe and early dialogue sequences, it foreshadows how each of the two have been affected by Joker’s passing, but Batman seems fine. I know he suppresses his feelings but he snapped more than a few elbows without any sense of discomfort and didn’t seem different in any way. I wasn’t expecting him to watch soap operas, eat ice cream, and cry, but something should have happened. Harley seems a bit more off her rocker (what else is new?), but other than her redecoration, she doesn’t do much else of interest besides openly mourn. It falls short even without the overcast of the main game’s big shadow.
Playing the DLC is immediately familiar. Robin is playable for a good portion, but he was available in the challenge maps as DLC so it doesn’t feel new. This isn’t bad because both the Dark Knight and Robin are pretty badass. Scratch that, very badass. Countering, gadget use, special moves, and punching are still as satisfying as ever because of the fluidity and responsiveness this system displays. Yes, this is still some of the best brawling around and it hasn’t changed.
Stealth remains as gratifying as ever as well. Outsmarting and intimidating the goons makes the player feel like a real predator, picking off the prey one at a time. Robin might take some getting used to if this is your first time, but his tricks get the job done just as well as the Bat.
However, the objectives seem to have taken from the video game cliche barrel. In the short hour and a half I spent in HQR‘s campaign, every mission seemed to hinge on collecting various interpretations of keys. Find this key to open that door to open this door that leads to another locked object. When these are spread out evenly, they are less noticeable. Being a smaller piece of content, the blandness sticks out.
I didn’t hate Harley Quinn’s Revenge, I was just a little underwhelmed. More Batman is always a positive, but given the brevity, lackluster assignments, price, and less than ideal story, I didn’t walk away thinking it was Batman’s greatest moment despite maintaining brilliant combat, having new areas, and sharp vocal performances. Die hard fans might just get it for the sake of getting it and that’s fine, but just be warned of the few scratches in the once-pristine Batsuit.
+More of the signature Batman combat and stealth action
+Playing as Robin and Batman is a good change
-Almost every objective is fetch quest-y and seems like padding
-Very short for the price
-Doesn’t delve into any of Batman’s psyche after the incidents of Arkham City