Review: Batman Arkham Knight Pre Order Story Packs (Red Hood and Harley Quinn)

Batman Pre-Order DLC packsOne of the things I was looking forward to most with Batman: Arkham Knight was the huge load of DLC that was planned to come out with it. Being that I’m a huge fan of both Batman and the Rocksteady Trilogy, the thought of having more to do in these titles besides the main story was downright exciting. So when I heard that there was going to be a Season Pass for the final title in the Arkham Trilogy, $40 didn’t seem like a bad idea for 6 months worth of extra content. Well, I was as wrong about that as I was about the new Godzilla film, as I was sure it was going to be fantastic. Both were still pretty entertaining though.

When I heard there were going to be pre-order bonuses for the game that featured extra chapters, I had high hopes that they were going to be wonderful additions to the game, especially since I’m a huge Red Hood fan, and this would be the first time playing as both him and Harley Quinn. Well needless to say, I was disappointed in both story packs as they had little to actually add to the game besides 45 minutes of combined gameplay. Yeah, you heard me. Combined. Seeing as how the Pre-order DLC packs are incredibly short, I decided to lump them together in a dual review.

So the Harley Quinn portion of the DLC starts out with you playing as everyone’s favorite sex symbol henchman. Yeah… Henchman. You’re ordered to help break Poison Ivy out of prison and are required to beat up guards along the way. This isn’t a bad setup as the prison is a decent size, with a few rooms to go through. Harley gets her own version of a “detective mode” that is quite hilarious to see, since everyone knows she absolutely nuts.

Batman Arkham Knight Cover ArtThe gameplay mechanics are similar to Batman’s, as you’re forced to eliminate every enemy on the map to progress to the next room. While Harley isn’t a steathy ninja like B-man, she still gets to go into vents and jump up walls. She plays a lot like Catwoman in Arkham City, minus the sweet whip. It makes sense, because from what we’ve seen, Harley is a pretty incredible gymnast, doing all kinds of flips everywhere in the cartoon. She makes it well known to the player that stealth isn’t her “thing,” so the silent takedown is gone and she’s just given a loud beat down with her trusty bat. While I’m a little sad that players weren’t given her giant mallet like in the cartoons, it’s still pretty entertaining to watch her clobber enemies into submission. The downside about this is that despite her lack of stealth, it’s somewhat needed to get past the enemies who all have guns, while you don’t.

There are a couple problems I have with the direction DC is currently taking our beloved Harlequin-based villain. The first is the need to add sex appeal, with the second being the split personality Harley has now. Why DC felt the need to give Harley Quinn all this sex appeal is beyond me. Harley doesn’t need pigtails, cleavage and a thong. She just needs comedy! Her whole appeal, and why she complimented the Joker so well, was the fact that she was a funny character. She used a mallet for crying out loud! The addition of her having a split personality was also unnecessary. It not only destroyed the story of Mad Love, but it cheapened the Joker’s influence, as he wasn’t completely behind Harley’s insanity anymore.

The reason I bring these issues up is because they were added into the game. Harley has a corset, cleavage, pigtails and an inner dialogue as she progresses through her story and it drives me nuts. Why DC felt the need to give depth to Harley Quinn is beyond me, and it wasn’t needed at all.

Overall, while enjoyable, this story pack wasn’t as amazing as I was hoping it would be. If it wasn’t free, I’d definitely regret getting it altogether.

The Red Hood story pack was the DLC I was looking forward to the most. While hearing it was only a Gamestop preorder exclusive, I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t get it immediately like the Harley Quinn DLC. I was pleased to hear that Season Pass holders would get it eventually, because I really hate going to Gamestop. So when this DLC went live, I had to play it immediately, as Red Hood is easily one of my favorite characters in the Batman Universe.

*Spoilers ahead*

Seeing as how Jason Todd plays a huge role in Arkham Knight, I was excited to see that he would get his own form of DLC, since he’s a very interesting character that would definitely add a lot more depth to the Batman games. A vigilante that kills to save Gotham and using crime to control crime was an absolute brilliant concept that Judd Winick came up with, and using revenge as a means to try and break Batman was absolutely fantastic. Under The Red Hood is my all time favorite Batman movie, yes it’s a cartoon, but the story is amazing!

So after much waiting by the PS4, and avoiding anything on Youtube, the DLC finally came out last week, and I played it right away. You can imagine my surprise when I got through the content in about 15 minutes. The story itself has you, as the Red Hood, proceed to stop Black Mask and his thugs. The downside to all of this is that it’s episodic, so once you complete the objective, you immediately go to the next area. While I think it makes for a better story this way, I would have preferred to go through a larger area, similar to the Harley Quinn story, as it would give players a better chance to see what the Red Hood was capable of.

Being that the Red Hood is every bit as capable at the Dark Knight in apprehending villains, yet crosses that line of resorting to murder, the character always fascinated me as a foil to Batman, which gives the Red Hood so much potential. I would love for DC to dive more into this, giving fans more insight on the darker vigilante that Winick has crafted so carefully.

While Red Hood does kill enemies with his trusty pistols, I feel like they don’t utilize this function enough, as it merely works like the batarang. There are enemies you apprehend that are wearing bulletproof armor, who need to be beaten down instead of simply shot. Why a simple headshot wouldn’t work is beyond me. With his limited arsenal as well, only having a grapple gun and his pistols, your choices are extremely limited. With the Red Hood being trained by Batman himself, one would at least expect the use of more gadgets at his disposal. I guess Rocksteady forgot those elements…

The boss mechanics of both DLCs are pretty standard, with the objective just being to beat up the boss and take down the horde of minor enemies that come to intervene. The mechanics don’t introduce anything new and the battles are pretty easy to get through, offering no real challenge to people who are already used to playing the game. I made the mistake of beating the main scenario first, so the extra chapters didn’t prove to be much of a challenge since Batman’s portions were much harder.

All in all I am pretty disappointed with the DLC tidbits that are offered with the game. The whole experience really makes me regret spending $40. If anything, the amount of content customers are getting is really only worth half as much, as so far all we’ve gotten is a few short DLC chapters, a bunch of costumes and VR missions, and nothing really added to the main scenario. I know Rocksteady is working on some extra Gotham chapters for later DLCs, and I’m sincerely hoping they can redeem my purchase, as I would love nothing more than to feel like my money has gone to good use. So far it’s just felt like highway robbery. Isn’t Batman supposed to prevent that…?

Harley Quinn Story Pack

Story: 3 Gameplay: 7 Side quests: 0 Re-playability: 2 Overall Score: 3

Red Hood Story Pack

Story: 5 Gameplay: 7 Side quests: 0 Re-playability: 2 Overall Score: 4