Batman: Arkham City DLC – Harley Quinn’s Fail-Er, I mean, REVENGE

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Remember this?

My expectations for amazing games have the life cycle of people in well-sealed plastic bags lately.

Suffocated under bullshit, Harley Quinn’s last cash grab is not the DLC you’re looking for. I won’t mince words, it’s crap.

Let’s give the reasons why after the cut…

Warning, this is an extension of the ending for Arkham City and as such is riddled with spoilers. Ye were warned.

Arkham Asylum was good. Arkham City is one of the finest games ever made, so it’s hard not to have certain expectations when you play through the final DLC to make it onto the Arkham City Game of the Year edition. This snazzy tidbit of content landed on the magical collection of stuff first, which wasn’t technically a problem for me, but it was far from a plus since it wasn’t available separately until about a week ago.

Let’s go over what you can expect in terms of “perks”:

-Robin is a playable character and it clarifies that Robin is Tim Drake, not Dick Grayson. In this context, I wasn’t entirely clear on that so I was stoked that we get to see Robin be a character and stuff. It’s awesome. And to be fair, Arkham’s Robin is fairly badass!

-We see how Harley has coped with the Demise of the Joker. Not a rewarding revelation, but intriguing nonetheless. She’s started her own gang with a theme bearing resemblence to her original costume. Her appearance in Harley’s Revenge is an emo/gothy twist on her already existing look in the game. The biggest surprise being a veil nestled into her darkly dyed hair.

-We see how Batman deals with the death of the Joker. His failure to save the clown’s life in the throes of the game’s jaw dropping spectacle of an ending has hurt Batman’s stride to the point that even Gotham’s thugs are taking notice. Seeing Batman in a vulnerable time is… an interesting take on the character and his faltering is a great excuse to let Robin loose.

So that’s about it for the good. That’s the long an short of the great reasons to try the DLC. Now comes the storm of poop: the banal & the bad. The ironic problem I have with this extension to the ending is that it’s unnecessary, like someone strapped an overpriced, low quality candy bar to your $60 dollar slice of fancy pie. Unlike the shitty, lazy, ass-backwards and generally AWFUL ending for Mass Effect 3, Arkham City already wrapped up everything that it needed to after an ending as immensely satisfying as it was genuinely shocking. This whole thing feels superfluous to the main game itself, which is already so big on its own that it really doesn’t need a hokey add-on like this weighing it down.

The whole “episode” is a pretty typical day in Rocksteady’s established Batman games. There’s nothing new that the DLC represents in terms of gameplay and the only story-based element that it demonstrates is that Arkham City is falling apart and while most of the criminals are leaving Gotham, Harley decides to stay her ground and the defend the place where the game started. Oh, while kidnapping and torturing some unfortunate police officers.

A better skilled player will tear through this thing and feel twice as hurt as I am. I bungled my way through trying to savor it over this last week as I presumed to have stumbled upon a glorious chestnut of Bat-gaming that Haters just needed to Hate upon. After the credit rolled for the DLC I gasped assuming this was all part of some elborate hoax leading me into something bigger.

Nope. That’s it. It’s a hostage rescue scenario that goes bad, forces the player through a flashback tied to the same scenario and then provides no real closure at all. I assure you, there is nothing you will miss from this except a moody Batman who doesn’t effectively relay his feelings on the end of the primary on-disc campaign. He’ll narrate in his head during the flashback about crap like rescue strategies and which bat-tool fits which bat-job, but his feelings are buried deep down. Yet everyone seems to pick up on this and offer a shoulder to cry on, which Batman naturally pushes aside on his way to kick ass. As a redundant add-on, it resolves nothing, achieves nothing and really makes Batman look kind of lame as a result, which is borderline criminal given the brilliant results Rocksteady had to date with the franchise.

Despite this blemish, Arkham City still stands as one of the finest games ever made, it’s just sad seeing that they spent time and money following up one of the greatest gaming moments known to man with a ho-hum encounter with Harley that feels forced. They could have had any generic villain, drug dealer or even a charismatic, knife-wielding hobo stand in for Harley because there’s nothing truly unique about the mission save for its attachment to the joker. Why shoehorn her in? To tie her to the main game, ensure recolored toy variants (with action-packed mourning veil!), and lure in horny fanboys like me… Um, I mean, lure an excitable fanbase that enjoys the familiarity of beloved villains as they intended to capitalize on Harley being so popular in spite of her being treated so bewilderingly poorly by DC comics and the Joker respectively.

This isn’t even a DLC pack I could really endorse for hardcore DC nuts. There’s really nothing here to keep folks interested that actually played through the game itself and since the entire basis for the DLC is tied to the ending it’s just a deluge of disappointment as you trudge through ground already tread gathering clues and doing nearly an hour of busywork since you need to take out snipers and avoid/defeat goon patrols. Stuff kind of picks up when you first encounter eerily familiar crowds of dudes in small rooms, another similar hostage situation with a boss character in play, then another crowd of dudes, room full of robots and then a kind of Quick Time Event and then the game’s over.

It’s not so bad that it can harm what genius the rest of the game offers, but the DLC itself is well worth avoiding both purchase and play. It gives the same basic bat tomfoolery offered by the main game with none of the fun, thrill or intrigue that kept the frantic pace of Arkham City moving. By the time the “story” in the DLC gets somewhere, it’s done. It’s over. I want to keep reiterating this point because it genuinely shocks me to the point that I can’t absorb my disappointment properly. This feels like something off the cutting room floor that was omitted because it’s fluff that we, as an observant audience, already surmised; Batman is haunted by guilt, Harley Quinn is an idiot fueled by vengeance and it takes the intrusion of Bruce’s adopted family to save Batman from himself.

I will note that this would have made an excellent opening for the next Arkham title and with some axtra work, it would have made an excellent refresher into the mindset of the chracters, the situation Batman finds himself facing following the death of his nemesis and the changing views of the scum that harm the citizens of Gotham. I suspect the actual opening for the next game will amazing us all, but in the meantime just be satisfied with the closure the on-disc title provides unless you got the GOTY edition or are an achievement whore happy to spend money on disappointing efforts in cash-grabs.

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