SPOILERS – You’ve been warned should it matter to you.
Those who know me and caught my video in the months leading up to the release of Batman Arkham Knight, know I have ample disdain for Season Passes and DLC. Now that I’ve hit a 96% game completion rate and the need for finding all the Riddler Trophies is waning, Rocksteady and WB Games have released the first part of their Season Pass offerings: the Batgirl episode called “A Matter of Family”. Needless to say I reluctantly handed over my money to pay for the exorbitantly priced Season Pass and continued on with my fanboy batness. Upon reflection I’ve found myself to have quite an enjoyable experience.
This episode takes place well before the events of Arkham Asylum, a prequel if you will. It is a delightful and welcome change, and a hugely requested one from fans, that we are front and center with Barbara Gordon a.k.a Batgirl. This story revolves around yet another nefarious scheme by none other than the Joker, set where I can only assume is an abandoned Amusement Mile type locale. Joker has kidnapped Barb’s father, Commissioner Gordon and it’s up to Batgirl to rescue him. We are even told a convenient plot element that Joker swears to kill Gordon himself should Batman even show up. So, that explains why only Batgirl can be in this episode. Even that’s not true, Tim Drake a.k.a Robin also shows his shaved head to help Batgirl ensure her fathers safety, and her own. We are also given slight moments to see where their love begins to blossom, which was hinted at in the main campaign. Being a prequel to Arkham Asylum, Batgirl is not gifted with most of Batman’s upgrades at all, you’re pretty much left with bare bones low level equipment that’s convenient for the premise you’re playing, so that works just fine regardless.
This is a more tightly packed event, so if you were expecting to glide around Gotham with your golden under-cape on display than you’ll be disappointed, you cannot leave this large map. Now before you start crossing your arms for a morose moment, fear not, for there is much to explore and you’ll be taken to a decent amount of unique and creepy areas that Rocksteady are just so good at creating. Jump scares? Yes, there’s a couple here too. The attention to detail in the environments do not suffer just because it’s for some episodic content. Everything is just as detailed and beautifully crafted as the main game from the abandoned corridors and fun houses, to the gale winds and crashing waves below your view.
Without spoiling too much of the story mission, I’ve essentially laid out the main premise. It’s a drawn out rescue mission. What started as a “Saving Private Gordon” mission, will deviate into “Diffuse this Bomb”, then “Save that Guard”, oh and “Diffuse this other Bomb” type missions along the way to flesh out the play time. I managed to completed the episode in roughly an hour without dying or having to repeat anything, so if your Bat-Proficiency is up to scratch you’ll cruise through it. There is some amount of replay value as after the story is over you’re dropped right back into the map to find all the balloons, Joker teeth and Harley Quinn boxes should that be something you’re into. Even after completing this DLC you still can’t take Batgirl into Gotham itself, so you’ll have to make do. If you’re looking for something as deep and engaging as the main campaign, then you’re not going to get it here. To be fair this wasn’t created to be another 10 hour story mode, so leave that expectation at the loading screen. Even though it can be completed in an hour, it’s a fun, frantic and stressful romp so you will be satisfied. If you want more gameplay within new environments with a great fan favourite character, than this is worth the play through.
And no, my opinion of DLC and Season Passes hasn’t changed. I would have preferred this be an individual optional purchase. Who knows, it might be in the future.