There’s an important question you have to ask yourself before diving into “Harley Quinn’s Revenge,” the new story-driven expansion for last year’s Batman: Arkham City: Just how good was the ending to Arkham City for you?
If you’re like us and think the original ending to Arkham City was damn near pitch perfect, then you might want to consider skipping Harley Quinn’s Revenge. Trust me, I don’t say that lightly. I wanted an excuse to play more Arkham City just like everyone else. However, upon completion of the new downloadable content, the striking reality of the situation is that this new content doesn’t really add anything worthwhile. In fact, it can be argued that this epilogue, of sorts, kind of diminishes the game’s original, perfectly poignant sendoff to the relationship between Batman and Joker. But more on that in a bit.
Harley Quinn’s Revenge picks up a few weeks after the events of Arkham City. The Joker is dead and his main squeeze is quite pissed about it. Harley’s kidnapped a few cops and is holed up in the Gotham shipyard within Arkham City, threatening to end their lives if the GCPD and Batman get involved in the situation. Of course, the Dark Knight isn’t going to let that fly and goes in after Quinn. However, something happens within the walls of Arkham City, resulting in Batman disappearing for two days. It then becomes the job of Robin to head into the city-prison to deduce what happened.
This marks the first time players get to control Robin in a campaign setting. Robin is just as acrobatic as Batman before him, bringing a few unique toys of his own along for the ride. He’s got a badass bow staff and handy shield for protecting himself from gunfire and busted steam pipes. Getting a chance to control Robin is hands down the highlight of this DLC. For someone who never played the Robin-centric Challenge Maps, getting the chance to play as the Boy Wonder to push the Arkham-verse narrative forward was a treat.
However, the entire DLC is not played from Robin’s point of view. This mini campaign actually flip-flops control between Robin and Batman. You start as Robin, then flash back to play as Batman, then Robin again and finally back to Batman until the credits roll. It goes without saying that the moments as Batman will instantly feel familiar to those who’ve already played through Arkham City… with one exception.
Harley Quinn’s Revenge is a very linear experience. The moments where you play as Robin have you basically running from corridor to corridor and entering rooms full of thugs to beat up, rinse and repeat. The parts as Batman open up a little wider, but you’re restricted to the shipyard area of Arkham City; you can’t load up this DLC and head out to explore the entirety of Arkham City to take part in the game’s plethora of side quests.
Lastly, let’s bring this full circle and return to what I was saying about this DLC’s story. When this content was first announced, Rocksteady said it would not only play off the aftermath of Joker’s death, but also Batman’s fragile state of mind considering his other half is forever lost. While, yes, Harley Quinn’s Revenge does serve as an epilogue to the game, it really doesn’t do anything but scratch the surface of the psychological trauma bubbling underneath. That goes for both Harley and Batman.
The content ends exactly where it began, making you question why it was ever produced in the first place – outside of giving us an excuse to play more Batman: Arkham City, that is. It’s like if someone went back and added an extra fifteen minutes to the end of King Kong where you just watch Ann cry in her apartment. In a way, the original, poetic ending is left sort of damaged.
If you want to pick up Harley Quinn’s Revenge for more Arkham City gameplay goodness, go ahead. The DLC provides a solid two more hours of narrative-driven content. But heed my warning about what it does to the game’s original ending. If getting more story out of Arkham City is what you’re after, you might want to avoid this expansion to keep those rose-tinted goggles firmly on your face.
Harley Quinn’s Revenge is available now on the PlayStation Network ($9.99) and Xbox Live (800 MS Points). You can also get it as part of the Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition, available now.