Matthew Sawrey

a portfolio of videogame writings

Batman: Arkham City – Harley Quinn’s Revenge

Anyone who experienced the conclusion of Arkham City knows that its world changing event left Rocksteady’s narrative interpretation of this franchise wide open for exploration. Picking up just two weeks later, the first piece of story driven DLC, Harley Quinn’s Revenge, deals with the fallout of those events, as a despondent Batman is captured by the Clown Princess of Crime and held prisoner within a sectioned off area of the increasingly dilapidated Arkham City.

The story jumps between The Dark Knight and The Boy Wonder’s perspectives as Robin searches for his missing friend within the halls of Harley’s Steel Mill. Having been an underdeveloped, but well characterised presence within Arkham City, Tim Drake’s Robin should have made for a welcome change of pace to finally take control of within the story.

He plays as a modified and slightly limited version of Batman, with a fighting style that relies heavily upon his collapsing metallic baton, and he lacks the ability to swoop and dive quite so elegantly as his mentor, limiting his adventure to the interior environments. Sadly this difference is never really capitalised upon as his few new gadgets, such as a bulletproof shield, are underutilised by some uninspired level design.

Similarly taking control of Batman sees a return to each of the already well developed gameplay elements found within Arkham City, playing as a whistle stop sampling tour of each – henchman interrogations, detective vision investigation, stealthy predator rooms and free-flowing combat sections all appear as if being ticked off a checklist. It’s hard to shake the feeling that whilst each of these components are handled well enough, Harley Quinn’s Revenge could have taken the opportunity to mix things up and introduce at least one new gameplay element.

At around two hours of playtime and with few new additions upon Arkham City, Harley Quinn’s Revenge is a light and slightly disappointing experience, especially so at 800 Microsoft points. It boils down to a short section of good Arkham City gameplay, let down purely by the lack of content and the lack of originality in that content.

It’s a case of more of the same, which is no bad thing when the same consists of intricate and well-designed gameplay systems. But this feels like a missed opportunity to expand upon Arkham City’s open world and the narrative promise suggested by it’s dramatically powerful conclusion. And what would have made for a perfectly decent chapter within the original title is a little bit harder to recommend as a stand-alone package.

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2012 by in Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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