The Nightwing Bundle Pack is the first piece of paid downloadable content for Batman: Arkham City and, as the name suggests, it brings Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, as a playable character. However you will not be playing as the former boy wonder in the streets of Arkham City, instead you can test your might against the Riddler and his challenge maps.
The actual character design is probably the most faithful to the comics out of every character to be in an Arkham game. There has been no substantial redesign, or alternative take on the character’s looks, which will likely please Nightwing fans out there.
As an added bonus Nightwing comes with a costume based on his look in the Batman Animated Series from the mid 1990′s. Much like the Animated Series costumes for Batman, Catwoman, and Robin there is a superimposed quality to the character model that makes it resemble the way animated characters were paired with real life actors in films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Cool World.
The pack includes two extra challenge maps that can be used with all playable characters in the game (Batman, Catwoman, Nightwing, and Robin, who is set to be made available to the public on 22nd November) that take place inside of Wayne Manor. Nightwing is also fully playable in every other challenge map, including downloadable maps such as the Joker’s Funhouse (a retailer specific preorder incentive) and the Iceberg Lounge (which came with the Special Edition version of the game).
The first challenge room, Wayne Manor Armoury, is a Combat Challenge that pits you against four waves of increasingly tough enemies. When playing as Nightwing it is clear that he is no mere reskin of Batman; Nightwing has his own distinct moves and animations and, despite utilising the same combat system, really feels like a different character. Nightwing is more agile and nimble than Batman, and this is apparent in the way he fights – when dodging enemies Nightwing gracefully rolls past enemies, flipping over them with ease, before landing a flurry of devastating blows.
Nightwing has fewer combat combos in his arsenal of moves than Batman, for instance Batman has a combo that can destroy enemy weapons, while Nightwing does not. This adds an extra level of challenge, almost like a handicap in some ways, making it fairly difficult to earn the required high scores in order to earn all three medals on each of the challenge maps.
The second map, taking place in Wayne Manor’s main hall, is a Silent Predator challenge in which you must stealthily take down a group of patrolling enemies. It is in the Silent Predator challenges that you really get to see what differentiates Nightwing from Batman. As Nightwing does not have a cape, he cannot freely glide around the level. He can use his grapple to pull himself on to high ledges and, being a former circus acrobat, he is able to leap across large distances without too much trouble. However, this lack of a glide can make some of the challenge maps incredibly difficult to navigate through without being spotted.
As well has sharing some of Batman’s weapons (batarangs, grapple, and explosive gel) Nightwing has a few unique devices, most notable are his combat sticks, which can be thrown at enemies or used to stun them with an electric shock, and his wrist gauntlet that can be used to fire stun darts at enemies. When aiming the wrist darts the view shifts to the first person perspective, as if you were looking through Nightwing’s eyes as he lines up his shot. While it isn’t a significant game changer, it is pleasing to see that Rocksteady are trying to do something different with this character.
Similarly Nightwing’s detective vision is a stripped down version of Batman’s, with a new addition that is exclusive to Nightwing. While Nightwing cannot differentiate between enemies that are armed with firearms and those that are not, he has a radar. This only seems to activate when you are performing a takedown, or have just disposed of an enemy, but it is very useful at indicating when there is an enemy just outside your field of vision.
Having said that, I cannot shake the feeling that Nightwing will be defined by what he cannot do more than what he can. Much like Robin and Catwoman, the more you play as these additional characters, the better they make Batman seem.Yes, it is nice to be able to use a bullet shield, or a whip, or electrified batons, but at the end of the day it doesn’t get any better than being Batman and beating the snot out of a dozen men with you bare hands.
As for the maps themselves, die hard Batman fans may get a thrill out of exploring parts of Wayne Manor – an area that has yet to feature in any of the Arkham games – but for the most part they are fairly generic. Where the Robin Bundle Pack really excelled was in the way its Freight Train challenge changed to the 2D side scrolling perspective, which was a breath of fresh air, and showed a lot of potential for the future. Beyond the inclusion of first person aiming with Nightwing’s gauntlet, there are no similar changes in this pack.
Graphics – 5/5: Nightwing enthusiasts will be pleased to see that they have not dramatically redesigned the character’s look, and the addition of the Animated Series Nightwing costume only sweetens the deal.
Sound – 3/5: Aside from the odd grunt and groan when he gets hit, Nightwing is essentially mute, which is disappointing. The music and sound effects are as great as ever.
Gameplay – 4/5: In some ways Nightwing is defined by his limitations – he doesn’t have as many combos as Batman, and he cannot glide. Having said that, his unique weapons are fun to use and bring something new to the table.
Longevity – 4/5: Nightwing is playable in every challenge map in the game, including any other challenges you download. Likewise Nightwing’s challenge maps are playable with Batman, Catwoman, Robin, and any other downloadable character they may release in the future.
Overall: 4 out of 5
For the fairly low asking price of 560 Microsoft points (or £5.49 on Playstation 3) you can potentially get a number of hours of gameplay out of this downloadable pack, not just with the two new maps, but by revisiting old maps as Nightwing. Considering that Arkham City is one of the best games of the year (if not the best) any reason to continue playing is a good thing.
- Luke Mears