Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shatterblog!: Harley Quinn's Revenge DLC Review

Hey everyone, long time no see. As you've probably guessed, things have been pretty crazy and none of us here at P:BD have really been posting. I'm going to go ahead and break that unfortunate streak with a review.
Most of you have probably checked out the Batman: Arkham City review from way back when it first came out. Yesterday its first piece of story DLC was released. Due to the nature of the DLC, it is impossible to properly review it without spoilers for the main game's story.

-------IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED ARKHAM CITY, DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT-------


Alright, so as you'll recall, the main campaign ended with the evacuation of Arkham City, and more importantly the death of the Joker. Big surprise to everyone, Mrs Co Dependent AKA Harley Quinn isn't getting on so well without her precious Mr J. She's pissed, and her appearance has changed to a more messy gritty mourning look, which I like less that standard Arkham City Harley, but more than Arkham Asylum Nurse Harley. The DLC opens up with Robin searching for Batman, who entered the mostly abandoned city to save some cops Quinn kidnapped. Things didn't go so well for B-Man, as Robin now has to find his ass.

For the majority of the DLC you play as Robin. I did not purchase the Robin or Nightwing challenge maps, so I can't say if Robin plays similarly in those (I would assume so). For the DLC, he is an extremely well designed character. He retains important gadgets and tricks from Batman (grapnel gun, shurikens replacing Batarangs, line gun) but also has some shiny gadgets of his own. The Bullet Shield is a lot of fun, partially because you can abandon stealth and bullet sponge for a few seconds, but more importantly it comes with a charging attack that disorients foes, easily activated by double tapping the RT button mid combat (same as Batman's freeze grenades). The second is a flashbang pellet, which you attack to enemies and detonate for an AoE knockdown.   I spent an embarrassing amount of time sneaking up to henchman and sticking explosives to them, running away. detonating, and giggling maniacally. Also, Robin's quickfire Line Gun doesn't pull the enemy stumbling toward him like it does for Batman. He launches into a line propelled kick right into the enemy. Very cool. Robin's basic hand to hand feels similar to Batman, although his staff gets used in some really well scripted finishers. One double stealth takedown he put the staff between two henchman, horizontally, and pulled it back hard into both's throats, TKOing those henchies for the rest of the fight. I also had a small issue with clipping that ended in Robin slamming his staff into some poor schmuck's crotch. Awesome. One thing I definitely noticed was the difference in sound effect between fist hitting meat and staff hitting meat, a very nice touch.

There are a few short segments as Batman, nothing particularly different from the main story. There was one fun puzzle as the Dark Knight, and a few mediocre ones. Boy Wonder didn't do any meaningful puzzle solving.
Only real complaint is the DLC costs $10 (800 Microsoft Points) but clocks in at about 2 hours if you get stuck on an absurdly difficult fight for a bit. Robin can't just explore the city, you're locked in a very small zone for the entirety of the experience.
Overall, this DLC is a shining example of what good story based DLC can be. Though the time:money ratio isnt the best in the world, Robin gameplay is refreshing and fun, Batman gameplay is more of what we know and love from the primary campaign, and the story is fantastic. I highly recommend this to any fans of Batman: Arkham City. I'll give Harley Quinn's Revenge an 8.5, almost as good as the main campaign but just a little too restricted. If more DLC comes, and improves slightly on this already impressive piece, we may see the first 10 worthy DLC.

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