Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Batman: Arkham City : Harley's Revenge review

Warning: This review contains spoilers for Batman: Arkham City's main plot.

    It's been a long time since I've played Batman: Arkham City. I traded in the game almost as soon as I finished it despite how much fun I had playing it. However, thanks to the reduced cost of video games over time and Gamestop Points, I've been able to reacquire a copy. My first act upon doing so was to play Harley's Revenge, a DLC wrapping up some of the plot-lines leftover from the main game.

    The premise of Harley's Revenge is Harley Quinn, perpetually abused sidekick/girlfriend of the Joker, has kidnapped a bunch of police officers. Worse, somehow, she's managed to capture Batman. This is already a somewhat suspicious premise since Harley Quinn is a comedic villain, more pathetic tag-along than evil genius.

Harley's shrine to the Joker is double-plus creepy. I like it.
    Next, the game starts us off as Robin only to skip back to Batman later. I think this is something of a cheat as I would have enjoyed playing Robin the entire time or Batman but switching between the two diminishes both characters' stories. I imagine most people thought a Robin-centric DLC wouldn't sell as well, which is true, but he's quite entertaining for the short time you get to play him.

    So how does it play? Not badly, but not fun for me either.

    Part of the issue is my own damn fault. Harley's Revenge is set after the main portion of the game and the difficulty is ramped up to an extreme level. There's snipers, dozens of assault rifle-wielding goons, and rooms filled with dozens of melee-weapon armed minions.

    Worse, there's no Easy difficulty for those of us who are out of practice. Batman has never died this often in my games and Harley's squeaky taunts during the 'game over' sequence only made it worse. It was a slog from beginning to end, consisting of me repeating save points until I won.

    My favorite part of the game is the opportunity to play Robin. I'm not sure if this is Dick Grayson or Tim Drake, though I'm inclined to think it's the latter, but the character is a lot tougher and more likable than most versions. He's very much how I envision Nightwing acting, a great deal lighter than Batman but still tough as nails. I had a lot of fun using Robin's quarterstaff, too.

    My only regret is he plays a little too much like Batman. I would have preferred a Robin capable of going up in level and with his own set of toys. That's a bit beyond the bounds of a DLC, though, especially one where he's not the only star.

    As mentioned, Harley Quinn isn't quite capable of pulling off Master Villain by herself. Her going crazy(er) after the events of Arkham City and trying to kill Batman is appropriate for her character but I'm not sure kidnapping cops fits her M.O.

    I would have preferred an archvillain with a bit more menace to them like Hush or the Scarecrow. One thing I did appreciate was their handling of the "twist" in this game. Basically, a rather stupid plot was set-up in Arkham City and they manage to nicely retcon that out in Harley's Revenge. I'm glad of it.

     Which plot twist? The abysmally stupid pregnancy plotline. So, Harley Quinn may be pregnant with the Joker's baby. So what. It's not likely that the child will grow up to be the Joker 2.0 and even if it does, the kid isn't going to be a problem until it's the Batman Beyond era. Retconning it so Harley isn't actually pregnant is a good thing, IMHO.

Being Robin is surprisingly kick-ass.
    Batman, himself, is an interesting case in this DLC as we see him acting somewhat out of character. Having failed to save the Joker and Talia al Ghul in the main game's narrative, Batman is traumatized. I don't mind seeing Batman turn dark(er) and gritty(er) but the fact none of this seems to have lead anywhere in future DLC is a trifle disappointing. I would have appreciated getting Bruce Wayne's thoughts on the events in the game.

     In conclusion, I really enjoyed Batman: Arkham City: Harley's Revenge but I think the difficulty is way too high. Likewise, the game would have been more entertaining if it was an All-Robin adventure or had a more menacing villain. Despite this, anything Batman: Arkham City related is fun and better than 90% of most other games.


1 comment:

  1. Good review, bro.

    I am about 99% sure that Robin in this game is Tim Drake.