Revisiting Arkham City with Harley’s Revenge

Arkham City was a brilliant, expansive and, perhaps most importantly, free roaming adventure filled with a solid mixture of Batman’s greatest friends and foes. Harley Quinn’s role in the game wasn’t small by any means, though unlike most of Batman’s greatest foes, she never truly got a section to call her own, standing in the shadow of the Joker throughout his and Batman’s lengthy face-off.

Robin, too, never really got a chance to shine in the main story of Arkham City, with his small role being more of a cameo than anything else. So, the Robin and Harley aficionados out there will be happy to hear that Arkham City’s latest DLC, set after the events of the main story, not only focuses on Batman but also the other half of the Dynamic Duo and their showdown with Harley Quinn, the titular antagonist.

[boxout]Harley’s Revenge, then, is essentially an intertwined story featuring both Batman and Robin as playable characters, based around a smaller portion – the industrial district and steel mill – of Arkham City.

It may seem natural that Revenge is focused around this small part of Arkham City since it has a much smaller price tag, but at the same time it doesn’t really work; other sidequests in Arkham City played out across the entire game world, so it doesn’t make much sense that Harley’s Revenge, at its core an expansion, cuts the content down. This DLC should have (and more importantly could have) slotted nicely into the main game after completion, but instead acts as a standalone option, only accessible from the main menu.

Robin, though, is the true hero of Harley’s Revenge; he’s made an appearance in his challenge maps DLC before, but gets much more freedom and story time in this DLC, even if Batman still doesn’t appreciate his help. His combat is smooth and as fluid as Batman’s, his gadgets are as brilliant and equally useful: there’s a bullet shield to protect against enemies armed with guns; a zip-kick, which almost combines the powers of Batman’s grappling hook and line launcher; and the snap flash, which is essentially a discreet bomb.

Whilst Robin’s gameplay is solid, the sections in which you play as him are quite poor. There’s one exception with the final stand-off, but otherwise Robin’s sections are linear, uninspired levels with a heavy focus on combat. This set of rooms, in comparison to Batman’s own limited – though much more expansive and both outdoor and indoor – sections is simply disappointing.

Although it’s an intertwining story, it isn’t executed very well; the narrative is often boring and doesn’t really add anything to Arkham City, story-wise. It might please the die-hard Batman fans, but it’s ultimately poorly put together.

[videoyoutube]Whilst the limited environment and poor story fail to impress, some features of Harley’s Revenge are extremely pleasing. Harley’s goons, for example, have their own, unique design much like Two-Face’s or Joker’s in the main story of Arkham City and the steel mill has been renovated (though this doesn’t transfer into the main game after completion), with extra Harley balloons littered around to add an additional objective.

And it’s still a part of a Batman game, which is one of the best games of last year, so we can’t forget all of the content that made Arkham City so good: the flowing combat system, the nifty detective mode, the useful gadgets, brilliant visuals and everything else remain, so Harley’s Revenge is as technically as sound as City was last year.

The DLC only lasts an hour or two, though, and still manages to drag at certain points. You’ll be able to squeeze around three hours at most out of it, if you go hunting for all of the Harley balloons and try to collect the combat-specific trophies and achievements, but it’s ultimately not as fun as the hours spent on other sidequests in the main game.

Nothing new in Harley’s Revenge quite matches up to the magic of Arkham City; this additional content feels much like an afterthought – a sidequest – rather than a continuation of the game. It’s needless, poorly designed and doesn’t really add anything to the Arkham mythos. If this wasn’t built around a game with features as solid as Arkham City’s, it would be much worse. Thankfully, it’s saved by the foundations that were already there, along with a few new features including the great Red Robin as a playable character and Harley’s brilliant role as the antagonist.

It’s a bit like the Mass Effect 3 ending: a pointless and disappointing continuation of an otherwise excellent game. The core features remain, there’s a few good things but it ultimately feels needless and limited.



  1. as an aside, or whatever the phrase is, if you are yet to purchase arkham city and can wait a bit, I think a GOTY edition is due out in September which will include the Harley Quinn DLC

    • Yep, thats my plan. Never got round to playing Arkham City so will hold out for the GOTY.

  2. Ok it wasn’t the greatest bit of DLC but it kept me entertained throughout and took me approximately 3 hours to playthrough. Not bad at all for 800ms points. Though I might be a little biased as I love Joker and Harley :P

  3. I’ll still be getting this as loved Arkham city but I need to get through my ps+ haul first!

  4. this is really disappointing after such a superb game =/

  5. That is disappointing and it seems a bit pointless to not have it continue after the main game instead of the main menu option as it takes place after the main game and Batman is still in Arkham City. Not a spoiler btw. I think i’ll just watch the story on youtube as i’m not a fan of linear unless there is a bloody good reason for it.

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