Harley Quinn's Revenge Is Batman: Arkham City's Bad New Ending

Harley Quinn's Revenge has had the opposite effect on me than whatever its creators likely intended. The linear, two-hour epilogue for PS3 and Xbox 360 to last October's excellent Batman: Arkham City has diminished my desire to return to that game and give me new worries about this Batman series' future.

This add-on is as delicious a dessert as a poison-filled Joker pie to the face.

Harley Quinn's Revenge begins shortly after the conclusion of Arkham City, though completing it adds nothing to our understanding of Batman's world nor does it enticingly forecast the Dark Knight's future. The new adventure is accessible from the game's menu, where a spoiler warning indicates that this new piece will refer to the twist at the end of the main game. Harley is mad about the thing that happened at the end of Arkham City, so she has — this may ring a bell — kidnapped several police officers whom, as Batman, you have to free. This will be an emotionless, inconclusive journey. (There is one story twist/easter egg that will probably confuse fans of the main game. I screencapped it — but be forewarned, it's a spoiler.)

The displacement of Arkham City's openness for linear adventure could have been an emjoyable ode to the creepier, more focused Arkham Asylum. It's not.

Revenge is confined to the game's steelworks, the drab section on the lower-right corner of the glorious Arkham City map. Most of the main game's Gotham is locked off, so you won't be able to fetch the couple of hundred Riddler trophies you failed to snag while finishing the main game nor commit to any unfinished sidequests from the generously large Arkham City. You will be on a linear adventure, only playing through Harley's unimaginative revenge.

The displacement of Arkham City's openness for linear adventure could have been an enjoyable ode to the creepier, more focused Arkham Asylum. It's not. Harley's is a scraping of late-game concepts from Arkham City: combat against large crowds of thugs, many of whom wield riot shields or shock batons to force you to use special fighting combos; interrogation sequences against susceptible thugs; rudimentary use of several returning Bat-gadgets, etc. There is nothing here that Arkham City storyline completers haven't seen, except perhaps the opportunity to play as Robin.

Robin is your first playable character in the DLC, introducing what could have been a good gameplay dynamic duo that would let you switch from Robin sequences to Batman sequences. In practice, this happens. You'll play Robin for a half hour, then Batman, then Robin, then Batman. Unfortunately, as players of Robin's DLC challenge rooms know, the Boy Wonder does not play much differently from Batman. Sure, he swings a staff and has a shield, but he is essentially the same melee-focused striker and counter-striker than Batman is. He has similar gadgets and gets out of jams with similar panache.

Two hours gone, you'll be done with Harley's and perhaps wonder what the point was. If you've played much singleplayer DLC these past few years, the comparisons nearly all tilt against what you've just done. Fallout 3's Operation Anchorage similarly funneled its open-world main game into a linear adventure but did better by taking players somewhere new. Mass Effect 2's The Arrival controversially turned the series briefly into a solo Shepard adventure but at least signalled strongly the stakes of its sequel, Mass Effect 3. Grand Theft Auto IV's episodes added new storylines led by interesting new playable protagonists into its excellent open world. Infamous 2's Festival of Blood playfully dabbled with a radically different tonal shift. Harley's does none of the these things, let alone do them well.

Harley Quinn's Revenge sits uncomfortably in the shadow of Arkham City's day-one Catwoman DLC. That October adventure gave us several Catwoman adventures woven into the game's grand city. It gave us a playable Bat-icon who controlled similarly but just differently enough from Batman — a wall-crawler, more like a Spider-Man, really. It was worth buying the game new to play it or worth grabbing later as a downloadable bonus. Harley's is not. Instead, in rummaging through Arkham City's leftovers and coming up with nothing new, Harley's places the Arkham games at an unexpected juncture: were the series creators at Rocksteady holding back here, saving their new ideas for a new game or have we evidence that a lovely two-game formula has run its course?


Comments

    Thanks for the warning . Save me some dollars .

    Very harsh review! Think the reviewers expectations were simply too high. Not only that, Arkham City only gives the illusion of being non-linear. It is fairly on rails. Indeed, Harley's revenge is more on rails, but it gives a sample of how the sequel to Arkham City will work...choppier character changes.

    What I hate is people who think consoles are only existing. It came out on PC too you moron.

      Though the DLC in question isn't coming until June for PC for some reason

        Makes sense. Keybaord controls and better graphics. lol

        My point was more that he said the orginal game only came out on 360 and PS3, and as I manly play my games on a PC, it kindqa pissed me off. If your going to tell people what platforms a game is on, then tell them ALL of them or don't bother.

          Not really. He says that it's a "two-hour epilogue for PS3 and Xbox 360", which it is since the PC version of the DLC isn't out yet.

          If the PC DLC was out and he said that, I'd see the critisicm as valid.

      Hmm, Stephen wrote a large informative article on some DLC that takes 2 hours to complete, but he forgot to include the master race in the list of playable consoles! TIME TO INSULT HIM!!!

    Finished it this Morning. I trust Rocksteady completely. They wouldn't have included all the "clues" eluding to another game if they didn't have a plan. Knight takes Queen. Your move Rocksteady

    I love how the big bold caption in this article has a spelling mistake....

      JEEBUZ SAVE ME.

    Interesting, other sites are giving it great reviews.. hmm

    Considering how hyped up this expansion was, there were just so many things wrong with it.

    - It added nothing to the story, which is a shame, because the AA/AC series has easily been some of the best Bat-stories we've gotten outside of the comics ever.
    - It came out waaaaay too late. It's been nearly half a year since the last DLC, and even that was a skin.
    - Length and content was abyssmal. I finished it twice last night, first time to see it through, and a second time to grab the other acheivements. About 2 hours worth of gameplay. If it had been a pack of various villan stories at about that length, that would have been great. Unfortunately, as much as I like Harley, she wasn't enough to carry the DLC on her own.

      So best to wait for a price drop then?

      How much was it in $Aus? Around the $15 mark?

      I feel like the Riddler...so many question marks....????

    The game already felt like a bunch of tacked on DLC missions anyway. Seriously, this game was so lame, after I finished the main story I had no desire to ever touch it again.

    I'll still get it but might wait until it's going cheap in a Steam sale

    I disagree with this. It's awesome... I would encourage others to make up their own minds; if you let this DLC go then you'll be missing out.

    Ugh. I started disliking Arkham City a bit when there were so many battles against big crowds of thugs with body armour or riot shields or tazer sticks or whatever. It just felt like such crappy, cheap 'difficulty'. Not keen on paying to just get more of that.

      I enjoyed the added challenge, the fights get very samey against the standard thugs

    It's pretty good but a bit short in my opinion. You also don't get the map where you fight Harley as Robin in the challenge, but aside from that, it was pretty good.

    That Easter egg could have been seen earlier in the game

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