Fans of Rocksteady’s Batman games have been waiting for story DLC for a long time now, the addition of Nightwing and Robin in challenge maps outside of the main story were welcome if not necessarily desired additions. Harley Quinns Revenge is original, well written and enjoyable for all of the 45 minutes it will take you to finish it which , ultimately is a real shame.
Without going into any spoilers regarding the plot, though why you haven’t picked up either of the Arkham’s is almost shameful, Harley Quinn’s Revenge finds Batman and Robin once again in Arkham City with Harley completely off the rails, if that was even more possible. Batman is sent in to free a set of cops that Harley has kidnapped yet he disappears meaning Robin has stepup to the plate. Do not expect to be able to explore the rest of Arkham City as Robin or Batman. The DLC is a small area of the map and doesn’t take into account anything you may or may not have done in the main game. Sidequests, riddles and almost all collectibles are out with it focusing on Robins quest to save Batman and to find how what the heck happened back in Arkham.
Robin has never been a character that inspires the sheer respect of Batman, yet Rocksteady manage to make him both enjoyable and different enough to Batman’s fighting style to allow Robin and the character some breathing space; thankfully he isn’t just a reskinned Batman. Elegance is more important here than Batman’s more upfront style. Robin has access to a metal rod that he uses instead of his fists, whilst also having access to a bullet shield, a flash grenade and shurikens instead of batarangs. The standard of animation during the fight scenes is still absolutely top notch and the contrast between him and Batman, and that Robin can actually seem more enjoyable at times ,is great if Rocksteady decide to add more DLC focusing on him.
Robin’s gadgets feel under utilized however, as you only really get one or two chances where they are the best item to use hands down which hurts the character more when you get given the whole of Batman’s impressive arsenal from the beginning. Again the small areas you get to explore really throws out the sense of freedom players were previously able to enjoy. The overall experience now feels like one large third person fighting game, fundamentally undermining the point of you wanting to be Batman or Robin; you have Superman for superstrength, whilst Batman is The Worlds Great Detective/civilized vigilante. Furthermore the game kept spurting out the same lines from the henchman you listen in on, literally within seconds of each other, which ruined the experience a little. Thankfully the returning voices of Batman and Robin are as amazing, and, in Batman’s case, as gravelly as ever.
The story is told originally, with you switching between both Robin and Batman as you unravel what happened to Batman through the combination of both their adventures something which I haven’t seen done this well in a long time. Harley Quinn takes centre stage, as you may have guessed, which adds a new dimension of conflict that doesn’t tend to stand up with other Batman villains; petulance doesn’t exactly reek of evil genius unless toddlers and teenagers across the world have a plan the rest of us do not know about.
But here is the major gripe; it is awfully awfully short. There is no impetus to find anything or explore as you are so hemmed in; the fact that you are not the Worlds Greatest Detective for most of the game is painfully noticeable. Robin even states that he needs to think like Batman to find a solution to a problem within the game though this consists of beating up some nameless Joker goons; cerebral it isn’t. The ending itself offers more questions than it does answers as well. The ending of Arkham City threw open so many doors for Rocksteady and produced a large amount of questions that Harleys Revenge really should have solved. Instead it ends on a confirmation of what the player already knew without playing the DLC to begin with; hardly a selling point.
Removing the ability to explore, or any push from the game to make you want to do this also effects the enjoyment factor; preventing the player from exploring in a sandbox game is counterintuitive. This can be outweighed if the story that is being told warrants the restriction and is long enough to keep the player enthralled. The story is too short and succinct to provide any type of impact and it shoots itself in the foot by being far too streamlined.
DLC should be a short and well rounded piece of gaming if its purpose is to continue the single player story yet this doesn’t apply to Harley Quinns Revenge at all. All in all the production values that made Arkham City are still very much there and it is still an incredibly polished bit of DLC. Other than the ability to finally use Robin in a story mode however there really isn’t a whole lot to recommend. The pitiful time it takes to complete it does not warrant the 800MS points it costs nor does the story that it tries to tell worth seeing as a tradeoff for short playtime. Arkham City still has a lot to offer without the DLC but it really is difficult to recommend this to anyone but the most diehard of fans who want just that bit more time with Batman, Robin, Joker and friends.