Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment / Developer: Rocksteady Studios / Price: 800 Microsoft Points / Played on: Xbox 360 / ESRB: Teen [Alcohol Reference, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence, Mild Language]
Batman: Arkham City was flat-out one of the best games from 2011, an impressive feat to pull off considering its competition. But despite its huge critical and financial successes, the game’s DLC offerings have been restricted to cosmetic add-ons or extra challenge maps. Even the DLC including Nightwing as a playable character failed to add to the game’s excellent story campaign. Thankfully, “Harley Quinn’s Revenge” finally delivers a satisfying (if short) follow-up to Arkham City.
You start off taking control of Batman’s longtime crimefighting partner, Robin, who made a brief guest appearance in the game’s main campaign, as well as in challenge maps available as DLC when the game was first released. As the campaign continues, you switch between Batman and Robin based solely on the demands of the story—no tag-team takedowns of the bad guys here, sadly.
The tasks ahead of the Dynamic Duo seems kind of like a “greatest hits” compilation of some of the most fun gameplay elements from the main story campaign. You infiltrate Harley Quinn’s hideout (in a brand-new environment) while taking down packs of thugs using combinations of stealth, gadgets, and the game’s elegant combat system. Gathering evidence, interrogating henchmen, and disarming bombs also pop up to provide plenty of variations in your objectives. There are also a few really fun predator sequences, where you take out your enemies without being spotted, instilling fear into the hearts of your criminal prey. And without giving anything away, there’s even a really satisfying new enemy type to take down that ratchets up the challenge without becoming frustrating.
Learning to use Robin’s new gadgets is fun, too. While he doesn’t have quite as many toys as Batman, some of his tools prove to be pretty useful. The bullet shield gets put through its paces, as does the zip kick, which is similar to Batman’s grapnel. Out of combat, you can use it to traverse long distances while it zips you right to an enemy when used in-combat. Robin’s flashbang is a little stun-disc that you stick on a bad guy’s back or a nearby surface and detonate to knock everyone onto the ground for a few seconds.
As cool as the new gadgets are, sometimes using them felt a little forced. Instead of letting you figure out the way you want to progress through each section, the game will often instruct you with exactly what you should do and which gadget you should use. That would be fine for the first time you’re using a tool, but the two hours of gameplay aren’t quite enough to provide more chances to be creative in how you progress. At the same time, I fully realize that this is like complaining about not having enough delicious ice cream, rather than just being happy with the ice cream’s deliciousness. Everything that’s here is really great—I just want more.
The plot picks up where Arkham City left off. Batman’s been missing for two days after trying to save some kidnapped cops from inside Arkham City, and Robin has arrived to find him. As the story continues, there aren’t any new revelations or secrets discovered—well, maybe one. It’s a little tough to describe what happens without spoiling it for those who haven’t finished the main campaign, but suffice it to say, the story and writing are really good.
Despite the brevity of the add-on, gamers are still treated to some excellent characterization and dialogue. Batman and Robin only have a few short scenes together, but because of how good the writing is, we get a great glimpse into how their dynamic works in this version of Gotham City. And while it doesn’t quite end on a cliffhanger in terms of plot, there are some serious questions raised about what Batman will do next and how he’ll deal with the ramifications of the events of Arkham City. I need a sequel now, please.
Visuals and Sound
The same high level of visual detail is on display here as they are in the main game. Since Harley Quinn is the main bad guy this time around, the bad guys you beat up sport harlequin-themed outfits, a nice visual touch that continues to display the game’s devotion to the world of its story.
As for sound, there’s definitely some new music that keeps the action and intrigue at a high level when the game calls for it. And the voice acting is top-notch. Again, considering how limited his appearance in the main game was, Troy Baker’s performance as Robin is excellent, offering a fully defined portrait of what the game’s unique version of Robin is like. And, as ever, Kevin Conroy’s Batman is second-to-none. Tara Strong’s grief-wracked (but still head-whacked) Harley Quinn provides an appropriate antagonist for the campaign, and all three together offer a pitch-perfect finish for Arkham City.
The only reason Batman fans could hesitate in purchasing “Harley Quinn’s Revenge” is the fact that the $10 price tag feels slightly steep for only two hours of content. Despite taking my time with the campaign, I was a little disappointed by how quickly it was over. Even still, I haven’t yet unlocked all of the DLC’s achievements, and given how much fun it was to go back to the world of Arkham City, I can say without a doubt that I’ll be going back to play through it again really soon. The fact that it’s included in the “Game of the Year” edition means that newcomers to the title are in for a value-packed treat. All in all, everything here is fantastic—I just wish that there were about twice as much of it.