DLC Review:- Arkham City Challenge Map Packs

Barely a month after the release of Batman Arkham City developer Rocksteady studios have supported the title with an unprecedented amount of downloadable content. The first two pieces of DLC brought new characters to the game’s substantial Riddler’s Revenge challenge mode, Nightwing and Robin, as well as playing around with the game’s formula by introducing a side scrolling combat challenge.

Rocksteady have recently announced that a further three challenge maps will be available to purchase on 20th December. We have downloaded The Joker’s Carnival and Iceberg Lounge VIP Room challenges and can safely say that, while they are not ground breaking, they do manage to offer up unique experiences that you will not be able to find in the game’s default challenge maps.

It is worth noting that both of the challenge maps are playable with all of the game’s characters, Batman, Catwoman, Nightwing, and Robin, so if you have already purchased the two new characters and felt that there wasn’t enough to do with them, this may prolong your experience.

 The Joker’s Carnival

Originally offered as a preorder incentive with all copies of Arkham City bought at mega supermarket Tesco in the UK, initial reports indicated that the Joker’s Carnival challenge map would offer up to four hours of additional content. Well, unfortunately someone must have got their wires crossed somewhere along the line, as the Joker’s Carnival map is one single timed combat challenge.

However, what it does offer is a fresh new take on the game’s default combat challenge. The key to earning the top scores in The Joker’s Carnival is it defeat as many enemies as possible without having your combo interrupted (much like every other combat challenge out there), with the one substantial difference here being that, as you defeat more enemies, your score fills up a metre. The metre is broken up into multiple segments, and as you fill each segment more vicious types of enemies start to attack you.

In order to score points, and add extra precious seconds to the clock, you need to tactically bank your points. To score more points you simply need to take down stronger enemies, but by facing stronger foes you run the risk of getting hit and losing all of the points in your metre. It is a wonderful risk vs reward system that makes for an interesting gameplay experience.

The Joker's Carnival is sort of a punchy version of The Weakest Link

Throughout the entire proceedings The Joker offers commentary, including character specific remarks (my personal favourite was the Joker’s surprise at seeing Robin, as he thought he had already killed him). Mark Hamill excels as the Joker, and if you found yourself wanting to hear more from him then this is the download for you.

While you likely won’t be spending four hours playing The Joker’s Carnival, it once again shows that Rocksteady are willing to experiment with the gameplay, rather than resting on their laurels.

Review Round-Up

Graphics: 4/5 – The Joker’s Carnival is fairly empty, giving you plenty of room to move about in. The characters are lifted straight from the main game, and as such look great.

Sound: 5/5 – Fantastic performance from Mark Hamill as the Joker, and some great music.

Gameplay: 4/5 – The whole risk reward mechanic of banking points is an interesting new take on the typical combat challenge. If you are able to perpetuate a combo and take out more enemies, bigger and tougher enemies will take their place, granting your more points. However, if you get hit or break your own combo all of your stored up points are lost.

Longevity: 3/5 – Despite early reports this will not last four hours. However that doesn’t mean that there isn’t the chance to get plenty of gameplay out of it. You can play this map as each of the game’s playable characters, potentially multiplying its longevity.

Score: 4 out of 5

Ok, you’re not likely to get four hours of content out of this challenge map, but don’t let that put you off. The Joker’s Carnival is a fun and difficult combat challenge that delivers a new take on the established formula.

Iceberg Lounge VIP Room

The Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge was one of Gotham’s trendiest nightclubs before the walls of Arkham City were put up around it. Throughout the game Batman hears chatter about how Penguin has now turned the club into his own deadly version of fight club, with only the best fighters going on to join his ranks. Well now you can fight your way through the endless legions of Penguin’s forces in the Iceberg Lounge VIP Room challenge map for yourself.

This is by far the most simple of the challenge maps on offer; as your hero of choice, you fight off an infinite wave of enemies until you run out of life, with no time limits. As you progress further and further more varied and powerful enemy types enter the arena, such as armoured guards and those with shields.

I like to think that I am good at the Arkham City challenges, but I only ever last a few minutes in this challenge map due to the fact that there are always about a dozen enemies on screen at any one time.

Throughout the entire challenge The Penguin watches from the other side of a fence, treating you to more of Nolan North’s take on the character. Those that didn’t take to North’s portrayal of The Penguin as a cockney gangster likely won’t warm to it through further exposure, but if you found yourself enchanted with North’s performance then this will likely please you greatly.

The Iceberg Lounge map pits you against an endless supply of enemies

This is by no means a bad challenge map, but it is the least experimental on Rocksteady’s part. Players of Batman Arkham Asylum may remember that Rocksteady released a similar map that took place in a library. Despite that, this is still a challenging map that will offer an additional challenge to those that have already conquered the game’s default challenge maps.

Review Round-Up

Graphics: 4/5 – The actual VIP room itself is fairly small and barren. This gives you plenty of room to move about it, but doesn’t give you a lot to look at. Nonetheless the game’s high graphical quality remains unchanged.

Sound: 3/5 – The music is lifted directly from the main game, along with most of the dialogue. Fans of Nolan North’s portrayal as The Penguin will be treated to more dialogue, while those that disliked his take on the character will have their ears assaulted by his voice.

Gameplay: 3/5 – This a basic survival map, pitting you against an endless supply of enemies. There are always plenty of enemies on screen, making this a very crowded map.

Longevity: 3/5 – A challenging map, especially if you’re aiming to earn all three medals.

Overall: 3 out of 5

The Icerberg Lounge is the most unsurprising downloadable challenge map so far, but if you’re looking for a difficult fight against impossible odds then this may be the map pack for you.

As of writing the final challenge map, a silent predator map that takes place inside of the Bat Cave, was not available for testing. It is unclear if all three maps will be sold together in one bundle, or if each map will be sold separately. We personally hope that each of the maps will be available separately so as to not force players that pre-ordered the game at varying retailers into buying content that they already have.

Stay tuned to newbreview.com for more information as and when we get it.

- Luke Mears

Tue, November 29 2011 » PS3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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