I loved Batman: Arkham City. Months and months after I completed the main game, I still love it. Just last week I spent half an hour watching and rewatching the launch trailer (which you should too, because it’s that amazing). So, I was obviously thrilled at the prospect of story-based DLC that took place after the events of the game. When it was revealed that it was about Harley Quinn, my enthusiasm dipped- but just a bit. After playing through it, I can safely say that I have no real reason to play through again.
My problems with the DLC are two-fold. First, the story. Batman’s state-of-mind after the Joker’s death is a brilliant, fascinating concern, that’s barely ever been able to be explored in the comics. Unfortunately, it’s mentioned less than a half dozen times, and examined exactly none of them.
Harley Quinn’s Revenge’s is just so…bland. Obviously, Harley is going to be upset and want revenge on Batman after her boyfriend dies (in her mind, at his hand). We could have figured that during the closing scenes of main game. Yet, despite two hours of content about her quest for revenge, nothing really advances Harley’s story. She kidnaps a few members of Gotham PD, and tries to blow up herself/Batman. That’s it. There’s no motivation or story passed that. It reads like the second half of an episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
I know that the stories set up by Azrael and Hush’s appearances in Arkham City are being saved for the next full installment of the series, but I can’t help but wish that a more interesting plot was chosen for the DLC. Hell, Harley Quinn’s Revenge didn’t even need a real villain. Joker could have had a final failsafe plan to destroy Gotham if he died, and that would’ve been more riveting than Harley’s. It could’ve been called “The Last Laugh” or “Joker’s Last Laugh”, either of which suggest a more interesting story than “Harley Quinn’s Revenge”.
The addition of Robin as a playable character in story mode is great, but the story suffers from the way it’s framed. Had Harley captured Robin (someone Batman cares for/loves) out of revenge for losing her lover that would give the story more meaning. Instead Batman is captured, which is flawed in and of itself, because BATMAN WOULD NEVER GET CAPTURED BY HARLEY QUINN- sorry, that’s the comic nerd in me coming out. The point still stands though, and there was potential for a riveting story that was simply overlooking.
The second problem with the DLC is its linearity and setting. Arkham City is an incredible world, but the Steel Mill was always the blandest, most boring location to me. It’s a warehouse filled with thugs. That’s pretty much it. I understand that recycling an environment was probably necessary from a development standpoint, but it’s frustrating that the Steel Mill was chosen over amazing set pieces like the museum or Wonder Tower. Being filtered through a warehouse for two hours doesn’t make for the most thrilling gameplay, and I don’t even think I need to explain why.
At the end of the day, I really don’t mean to discourage this sort of DLC, because I did still enjoy Harley Quinn’s Revenge quite a bit, and I would buy more Arkham City story content in a heartbeat. It’s just frustrating that after such an amazing campaign, these two hours felt so tacked on. The game’s epilogue had the potential to be immediately engaging without needing a new villain or set piece, but instead just culled some of the dullest parts of Arkham City.