Warning: Spoilers below for the ending of Batman: Arkham City
At the end of last year's Batman: Arkham City, developer Rocksteady Studios made a bold choice: they killed off the Joker, the infamous Clown Prince of Crime. As Batman solemnly carried his arch nemesis' body out of that hellish compound, barely saying a word, I was floored. The Joker had always been the yin to Batman's yang, and it was apparent that the caped crusader would never be the same after this strange turn of events.
But just how much would he change? And what would it mean for the inevitable sequel? Unfortunately, this newest batch of downloadable content doesn't even attempt to address these questions.
The short campaign begins two weeks after B:AC's game-changing ending, and Batman has gone missing while on a mission to investigate Harley Quinn's return to Arkham City. In a move that finally makes good use of Robin's in-game model (outside of the predator and combat challenges found in the main game), you get to assume the role of the Boy Wonder in his relentless pursuit of rescuing his mentor.
While possessing many of the same gadgets as Batman, Robin's rhythm and style of combat emphasizes agility and speed rather than pure power. His bo staff strikes enemies with a satisfying crunch, and his snap flash bombs and bullet shield adds new toys to the player's strategic handbook. You'll still get to play as Batman in-between certain scenes, but it's clear that Robin is the main star of this DLC.
And if you weren't much of a fan of the combat mechanics from AC, well, tough luck; the majority of this adventure will be spent beating up more of Joker's former thugs (now re-skinned to reflect the gaudiness of their new leader). For me, however, the fighting continues to be pure bliss, and it's no surprise that it's just as smooth and responsive as the mechanics found in the main game.
Combined with some new narrative context, this should have been the perfect single-player add-on that fans have been clamoring for. But it isn't.
I feel that Rocksteady played it a little too safe: they give you enough narrative to justify the 2+ hour brawl and exploration through unseen parts of the Steel Mill, but the payoff feels weak and insubstantial. Though it's interesting to see how things have developed since the end of Arkham City, the DLC feels like just another side mission — fun to play through, but not a necessary part of the experience.
If you're looking for a reason to keep on fighting other than just reaching for a high score or trophy, then Harley Quinn's Revenge is definitely worth taking the return trip. Otherwise, feel free to skip it – you really won't miss much.
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