Last October, gamers and comic fans were treated to Batman: Arkham City, one of the few comic book games (aside from its predecessor, Arkham Asylum) that delivered on its promise to make gamers feel like the titular superhero. Since its release, Arkham City has seen a fair share of DLC: alternate costumes, challenge maps and additional characters to play as in the challenge maps. But on May 29, developer Rocksteady released the first piece of story DLC, Harley Quinn’s Revenge, which returns players to Arkham City for one last mission.
GAME NAME: Batman: Arkham City Harley Quinn’s Revenge
DEVELOPER(S): Warner Bros. Interactive
PUBLISHER(S): Rocksteady Studios
PLATFORM(S): PS3, Xbox 360, PC
RELEASE DATE(S): May 29, 2012
If you haven’t finished the main story mode in Arkham City, go do that, because the DLC contains major spoilers from the main game. As a tremendous Batman and comic book fan, I committed myself to the game as deeply as Batman is committed to his crusade on crime. After playing through the story mode six times, solving all riddles, completing all side missions, completing all challenge maps as Batman and getting a platinum trophy, it was safe to say that my itch for being Batman was well scratched. But then Rocksteady announced their plans to release Harley Quinn’s Revenge as DLC, and I started feeling itchy all over again.
Harley Quinn’s Revenge picks up a few weeks after the end of Arkham City. Batman’s allies are worried about his mental state since the Joker’s death and when he goes missing for two days, it’s up to the Boy Wonder to find him. Unfortunately, Robin’s gameplay is confined to new areas of the steel mill and doesn’t allow you to free roam across the city, making it feel a little confined and bit like going from challenge map to challenge map. This might have been a problem for me, had it not been for the well-designed environments that allow you to test out Robin’s gadgets. Not to mention that beating thugs with a bo staff never gets old. Robin’s combat is exactly the same as it is in the challenge maps but since each group of thugs you encounter is a bit different, the combat doesn’t get stale.
Like the rest of the game, fans will find Easter eggs scattered throughout. Comic fans will spot a poster for Cadmus Labs early on, and should notice a few other things as creep through the steel mill. You only play as Robin for a short while before the story rewinds back to when Batman disappeared. A few cops have been kidnapped by Harley Quinn and a grumpier-than-usual Batman returns to Arkham City to save them. While you can free roam as Batman, you’re still confined to the industrial district area and steel mill during the DLC. Gliding and creeping through the industrial district, which has undergone a few changes since your last visit, there’s really nothing extra to do aside from some new Harley balloons to pop and thugs to beat up. After playing the main story, which is filled with Riddler challenges, side missions and all kinds of other secrets, the industrial district feels a bit empty and lonely with none of these extras.
Batman’s portions of the DLC are exactly the same as the main game. You’ll hunt down thugs with access codes, hack into security drives, disarm bombs and fight more thugs. You will encounter some new enemies, but nothing that challenges you to come up with new combat strategies. Most of the DLC’s fun comes from playing as Robin, but with just about an hour of gameplay you’ll be left wanting more. While trying out Robin’s gadgets in a story setting is great, the short length only allows you try your new gizmos in a few short instances with very little room for variation. Robin’s portions felt like an extended tutorial that never really leads to anything.
Overall the two-hour adventure is still a lot of fun and well worth the $10 or 800 Microsoft points, especially if you’re a hardcore Bat-fan. Unless you plan on hunting down all 30 Harley ballons, you’ll probably only play it once or twice. Story-wise, Harley Quinn’s Revenge feels more like a prologue to the next game, instead of the epilogue I expected. The dialogue keeps hinting at Batman being mentally unstable, but nothing ever comes of it and things are just left open at the end. It’s a minor complaint and I have faith that Rocksteady will address the plot in a sequel, additional DLC or maybe in the Arkham Unhinged digital comics. As a hardcore fan myself, I do have one major fanboy complaint: At no point during the DLC do Batman and Robin fight together. Here we have the dynamic duo together in a video game, and we don’t get to control them fighting back-to-back Burt Ward and Adam West style? Huge oversight, Rocksteady! But I’m willing to overlook it and offer you a blank check for whatever Batman DLC or games you have planned next.