Batgirl: A Matter of Family on PlayStation 4
Not even a month after its release, Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass holders have received their first major piece of DLC in the form of Batgirl: A Matter of Family. Set before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum, players take control of Batgirl as she infiltrates Seagate Amusement Park in order to rescue her father from Joker and Harley Quinn. Without the help of the caped crusader, Batgirl must rely on her wits and the assistance of Robin to make it through this hellish night.
At first glance, Batgirl: A Matter of Family looks like a much darker game than Batman: Arkham Knight. Set in an amusement park that sits on top of an oil rig, the DLC exudes this creepiness that is centered around the bizarre designs of the park’s attractions. In the dark, rainy night, the silhouettes of the steel monstrosities, which were built to be fun, are nightmare inducing and lend to the sense that this is a serious plight Batgirl has found herself in.
As she speaks, you can tell that she is still trying to prove something to not only Batman and the rest of the Batfamily, but to herself. Robin initially implores her to wait for the Dark Knight, but she knows this is something that she must do. She’s strong minded and clever, two traits that serve her quite well throughout the roughly 90 minute long mission.
As you could have probably guessed, Batgirl isn’t as strong as her mentor. Don’t get me wrong, she can crack skulls and cause month-long concussions with the best of them, but she prefers a more indirect approach, making the Remote Hacking Device her primary tool as opposed to Batman’s many gadgets of doom (that totally don’t kill anyone). Using the environment to her advantage provides Batgirl with more options than any other member of her team, and allows players to get creative if they so choose.
Triggering electrical plates to knock out unsuspecting thugs, causing distractions, or even scaring the ever-loving crap out of a group of hardened criminals is all at Batgirl’s fingertips. The scaring method is probably the best thing about playing as Barbara. Instead of having the fear takedown he boss has, she can instead use certain parts of the environment to cause so much fear that enemies drop their guard for a few seconds. Once this happens the player can jump down and take down enemies with a single hit until the fear wears off.
Adding some variety to the combat are the few Dual Play sections that team our fearless heroine with Robin for some good old fashioned beatdown sessions. They play just like they do during Batman: Arkham Knight, although they feel more frequent since this expansion isn’t exactly long. You’ll get to experience Dual Play five times during Batgirl: A Matter of Family, and their presence manages to magnify the brevity of the whole affair. And that’s the first of several issues this DLC has.
Even if you were to take the time to look for ever single collectible, and uncover the hidden story behind the park, your play time will struggle to hit the two hour mark. Going in, I was expecting something deep, something more engaging, but instead what was presented is a simple chain of objectives with little to no story in between aside from the one you have to search for. With the exception of Batgirl being able to wander around, there is no real difference from the short experiences that were the Harley Quinn and Red Hood pre-order stories.
Batman: Arkham Knight is the biggest game in the series, and offers the most freedom when compared to the previous games. With that being said, it’s natural to have expected an expansion along the lines of the Batman: Arkham City Catwoman DLC. Sure, Batgirl can’t inhabit the same world as the main game due to the chain of events that led her to become the Oracle, but a much more generous expansion would’ve been appreciated. Combat challenges, predator challenges, skins, and a villain placed solely for her first outing would have seriously upped the ante and shown that Rocksteady means business with this Season Pass.
Batgirl: A Matter of Family lacks something of its own to allow this DLC to really stand out. It has creepiness, no denying that, but doesn’t have that shadow creeping up from the corners that made the Batman Arkham games so great. It feels too by the numbers, and, in a sense, rushed with it’s objectives that you’ve already done too many times during the main campaign.
The last issue is that aside from her hacking capabilities, Batgirl just doesn’t feel different. She’s a smaller, less homicidal Batman (seriously, some of those thugs have to be dead). If you so choose, you can forego her hacking and just play as if you were the caped crusader, and that doesn’t bode well for a character trying to stand out on its own.
Batgirl: A Matter of Family delivers on the promise of giving players control over Batgirl. She is a great character that completely deserves her own DLC (or entire game for that matter), but this expansion fails to do her the proper justice. Yes, she gets her own area that’s larger than the other DLC stories, but it’s devoid of anything that makes this add-on unique. A re-skinned Batman is not what fans need, nor deserve.