Batgirl merely whelms in Arkham Knight’s first major DLC

arkham knight batgirl dlc matter of family screenshot
“A Matter of Family,” the first “major” downloadable content for Batman: Arkham Knight, has arrived. In this brief prequel episode, you assume the role of Barbara Gordon when she was still Batgirl, before her paralysis at the hands of the Joker and becoming Batman’s wheelchair-bound tech support, Oracle.

The Joker has kidnapped Barbara’s father, Police Commissioner Gordon, and is holding him hostage at the dilapidated, nautically-themed Seagate Amusement Park that the Joker and his minions have taken over. Batgirl plans to infiltrate the amusement park and rescue the hostages with the aid of Robin – the Joker has warned them that if they call in Batman, he will kill Commissioner Gordon immediately.

In order to thwart you, the Joker has devised…pretty much the same challenges you face in the rest of the game. There are a few big brawls and stealth sections with armed thugs. There are no real puzzles for you to solve or new enemies to fight. A few times Robin calls you over to a timed-fuse bomb, where you team up to beat down a group of thugs and then hack the bomb in order to disarm it before the timer runs out, but that’s as complicated as it gets. The climactic battle against the Joker and Harley Quinn stands out only because Harley is wearing her classic, animated series outfit, which is a nice little nod to the character’s origin. All in all, it should take you no more than an hour, which is pretty light, even for $7.

Batgirl handles essentially the same as Batman, but with fewer tricks up her sleeve. She is armed with explosive gel, the line launcher, grappling hook, batarangs, and the remote hacking device. Hacking is prominently featured because Barbara is supposed to be a tech whiz, but there is nothing particularly new or interesting in its application other than a few opportunities to turn off the lights or activate electronic devices remotely to startle or distract goons. There are no new devices, upgrades, or special moves. In terms of difficulty it’s somewhere in the middle of the curve relative to the rest of the game. The only real challenge comes from the fact that Batgirl is a bit spongier than Batman without the option for armor upgrades.

Batgirl_faceoff

The story is about as basic as they come: the Joker has kidnapped someone, taunts you about it over the PA, then you beat him up and rescue the hostages. Ostensibly “A Matter of Family” is drawn from The Killing Joke, one of the most famous Batman comics, penned in 1988 by the legendary Alan Moore. As part of a plot to drive Commissioner Gordon insane, the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon, paralyzing her from the waist down. He then kidnaps Gordon and holds him in a run-down amusement park and forces him to watch images of his naked, wounded daughter before Batman comes to rescue him.

Barbara’s paralysis, which is featured in a flashback as part of the main game, is what leads her to become Oracle, but her sadistic treatment in The Killing Joke has been subject to decades of feminist criticism as one of the canonical examples of “women stuffed in refrigerators.” Moore himself has subsequently admitted that Barbara’s treatment was mishandled. Having Batgirl rescue her father could be a potentially interesting way to reframe the story, but “A Matter of Family” does nothing with its source material other than lift the premise of Gordon being held by Joker in an amusement park. Batgirl can’t have more than a dozen lines, most of which are spent in painfully stilted banter with Robin as he fawns over her and tries to do everything himself while she patiently reminds him that she is more than capable of handling herself.

This is a real missed opportunity. Although the Harley Quinn pre-order DLC is considerably shorter and doesn’t have any cut scenes, at least Harley played a little differently and had her own redesigned UI. Batgirl is just a re-skinned and less capable Batman. That would have been okay had the context in which you used her had unique twists or a compelling story, but it’s really a rehash of the main game. If she’s going to play so identically to Batman, then the developers might as well make her an optional skin for the rest of the game, like Lithariel in the Arkham-reminiscent Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

“A Matter of Family” was developed by WB Montreal, which created Batman: Arkham Origins. I skipped that entry in the series because of the underwhelming critical consensus, and Warner Brothers seems content to pretend it didn’t happen either, referring to Arkham Knight (the fourth entry in the series) as the conclusion to a “trilogy.”

There is nothing overtly wrong with “A Matter of Family,” but it offers very little to recommend itself. If you like the gameplay of Arkham Knight and somehow need more of it after clearing out countless guard towers and around Gotham, then this is another dollop. If you’re expecting The Killing Joke, however, don’t hold your breath for a punchline. Subsequent content had better be more substantial if it is going to justify the steep $40 Season Pass price tag.

Gaming

These are the best video games you shouldn't leave 2018 without

Developers showed up with a number of amazing games this year. Each capitalized on something unique but there's always one that outdoes them all. Here are our picks for the best video games of 2018 and game of the year.
Cars

Gateway’s born-again Ford Bronco boasts classic style, 2018 muscle car power

Illinois-based Gateway Bronco has received a license from Ford to make brand-new examples of the first-generation Bronco. Every build starts with a Ford VIN and a donor vehicle, but Gateway upgrades every part of the car.
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Cars

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.
Gaming

Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Switch

Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced the Gamepad 2.0 for its Black Shark gaming phone that launched earlier this year. The new gamepad is similar to the Switch Joy-Con, with one piece attaching to each side of the phone.
Gaming

Skateboarding legend says ‘Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam’ will appeal to his fans

Tony Hawk's Skate Jam is now available for free on iOS and Android devices, and Digital Trends had the chance to talk to the legendary skater about its development and how it captures the magic of his best games.
Gaming

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?
Gaming

Cops called to handle ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ noise end up playing the game

A group of friends were playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch when cops arrived to respond to noise complaints from neighbors. In an unexpected twist, the officers ended up playing the game, too.
Gaming

The third DLC for ‘Spider-Man’ swings onto PlayStation 4 next week

The third part of Spider-Man's episodic DLC, Silver Lining, releases on December 21. The episode focuses on Silver Sable and Hammerhead, and it includes three new suits for Peter Parker.
Gaming

Spawn creator suggests the antihero could appear in ‘Mortal Kombat 11’

Spawn creator Todd McFarlane hinted that the comic book antihero could join the cast of Mortal Kombat 11 during a Reddit AMA. Spawn previously appeared in SoulCalibur II on the original Xbox.
Gaming

Hey, Sony! If you make a PS2 Classic, it needs these games

158 million PS2 consoles were sold worldwide during its lifecycle, making it the most successful video game console of all time. It was hard, but we narrowed down the PS2's vast library of games. Here are the best PS2 games of all time.
Gaming

Grabbing a Switch for the holidays? Here's what you need to know to play online

If you want to play online multiplayer on Switch, you'll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Here's what you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online, from price to features to the awesome library of NES games.
Gaming

You're not a true fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.