Harley Quinn’s Revenge is the first story based downloadable add on for Batman Arkham City and it reportedly also holds the distinction of being the final piece of downloadable content for the game. When this expansion was first announced it was widely promoted as the definitive end to the Arkham City story, promising a satisfying and fulfilling conclusion.
Now that it is available to download and we have had a chance to play through it a few times we can safely say that, while it is a strong addition to an already phenomenal title, those looking for satisfying endings and complete closure ahead of the inevitable sequel may find themselves feeling a little disappointed.
First things first, the premise: Following the events of Arkham City Harley Quinn has escaped from custody, taken a number of police officers hostage, and has bunkered down inside the old steel works. Batman was initially sent in to rescue the hostages, but he has not been heard from after entering Quinn’s base. Two days later Robin decides to venture in to see if he can find out what has happened to his mentor. This is a fairly decent way of allowing players to control both Batman and Robin, and doesn’t ever feel forced.
Anyone that has played the previously released Robin Challenge Maps DLC will immediately feel at home controlling the Boy Wonder. While his basic attacks are pretty much the same as Batman’s (punch, jump, stun, and counter) Robin has an entirely unique set of animations that really make him feel like a unique character. He also has a small arsenal consisting of (mostly) exclusive weapons, including the Zip Wire, which propels him towards enemies at a high speed, and the Bullet Shield, which protects him from gunfire for a short time and allows him to bash enemies’ heads in.
Making the game slightly more challenging is the fact that Robin’s repertoire of moves is significantly weaker than Batman’s. For instance Robin is incapable of destroying enemy weapons, and as such facing large crowds of enemies that are armed is significantly more challenging. Similarly he is incapable of performing the inverted takedown, making the stealthy sections more challenging. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that if you’re the sort of player that relies heavily on these moves then you may find it more difficult.
In terms of narrative, once you complete an objective with Robin, the next section of the game flashes back in time allowing you to play as Batman. One thing that is a little disappointing is that there are no new gadgets or moves to learn, and you earn no experience from defeating enemies in combat.
Another disappointment is the fact that the environment that this mission takes place in is so confined. When playing as Robin you are limited to wandering around the Steel Mill and the new Dry Docks area, while as Batman you can wander around the Industrial District of Arkham City. Should you try to venture into any other part of the city Batman automatically turns around and says that he can’t go anywhere else as he has too much work to do.
Upon completing the expansion you are returned to the main menu, with no option to free-roam the city as Robin. When clicking on the Harley Quinn’s Revenge icon at the main menu you simply restart the whole mission again.
Scattered around the environment are dozens of destructible Harley Quinn balloons that awards a generous achievement/trophy once they have all been popped. It wouldn’t really make sense for there to be additional Riddler Challenges, but the lack of additional side objectives, one of the best things about the Arkham games, can sorely be felt.
That’s not to say that this is not worth downloading of course, as the combat is as expertly constructed (as ever) and Rocksteady continue to experiment with their implementation of boss battles, but it feels more like a throw away idea, or smaller part of a bigger project. For the final segment of such an exquisite game I would have liked to have seen something grander and more complete.
Graphics:- 5/5 – The same gritty art style used by Arkham City. Harley Quinn’s new “mourning” look suits the character well and her new-look thugs all look great.
Sound: 5/5 – As ever, excellent work from the cast, with particular praise for Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Tara Strong (Harley Quinn).
Gameplay: 4/5 – For the most part the gameplay is pretty simple. Combat, as ever, is perfectly balanced and responsive, while Rocksteady’s efforts to experiment with boss encounters is appreciated.
Longevity: 2/5 – The story element will likely take around two hours to complete, if not slightly less, but it will take a long time to find all of Harley’s balloons. The lack of any significant side missions does hamper the overall experience in my view.
Overall: 3.5 out of 5
Arkham City’s conclusion ends not with a bang but more of a wet thud. It’s a perfectly functional little slice of the Arkham City experience that gives the fans some of the things they have been asking for without being too ambitious.