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Batman: Arkham Origins

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, WiiU, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: WBIE
Developer: WB Games Montréal
Release Date: Oct. 25, 2013


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PS3 Review - 'Batman: Arkham Origins' Cold, Cold Heart DLC

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on April 24, 2014 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline set several years before the events of the first two games of the franchise.

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The Batman: Arkham Origins Season Pass includes the following DLC: three skin packs, Initiation, and Cold, Cold Heart. The skin packs include a series of costumes for both single-player and multiplayer. The bulk is for Batman and includes special Brightest Day and Gotham by Gaslight suits. Robin also gets a couple, but since he's only playable in multiplayer, it isn't that impressive. The skins are only meaningful if you want to change how Batman looks during a replay of the game. None have any mechanical attributes, so they're effectively cosmetic changes.

The Initiation DLC includes a series of challenge maps, which are based on Bruce Wayne's training prior to becoming Batman. The maps can be challenges separately or as part of a mini-storyline campaign, including simple cut scenes. None of the maps are particularly distinctive, and while they contain new environments and a new skin for basic enemies, they don't change the gameplay much. The most significant difference is the final part of the campaign, which adds a modified version of the Lady Shiva boss fight from the main story. She isn't very difficult, but it's a nice addition to Challenge mode to be able to refight a boss character.

The Initiation maps also include a new character: Bruce Wayne, who has fewer moves and gadgets than Batman. However, he trades them in for a powerful shuriken throw move that attacks all enemies in a cone in front of him, a limited-use bomb that takes down all enemies on the ground, and a variation on Robin's zip-kick move and Catwoman's caltrop moves. He's a fun character but, like Deathstroke, doesn't feel as fleshed out as Batman. Your gadgets are less impressive, and your variety of moves is more limited. He falls in the same category as Robin and Nightwing from Arkham City: a fun change of equipment in exchange for less variety.

The biggest selling point of the Arkham Origins Season Pass is Cold, Cold Heart, the exclusive post-story DLC that was released this week. It tells the tale of Batman's first encounter with the infamous Mr. Freeze. The story is a loose retelling of the "Batman: The Animated Series" episode, "Heart of Ice," which reinvented Mr. Freeze as a tragic scientist seeking to rescue his sick wife. The story won't have many surprises for people familiar with Mr. Freeze, but it's a well-told adaptation of his origin story and his first encounter with Batman. It feels like an episode of a television series in comparison to the movie-like feel of the other Arkham games, and it feels significantly more cohesive and complete than the Harley Quinn's Revenge DLC for Arkham City.

Cold, Cold Heart is set after the main game and serves as a bite-sized chunk of gameplay. You begin with all of the upgrades you've earned in the main Arkham Origins campaign, aside from the glue grenade, which was too unstable and had dissolved. Aside from a brief segment where you play as an unequipped Bruce Wayne, you begin as a full-powered Batman. The core game is about 2 ½ hours in length and includes a few new originals areas (GothCorp Headquarters and Wayne Manor) and a small number of side-quests. It's basically a slimmed-down and focused version of the main game.

There's not much in the way of new content in Cold, Cold Heart. You get a new Batsuit partway through the mission, but it doesn't significantly change the basic gameplay. Instead, you get thermal versions of some gear, allowing you to melt, break or nullify ice and snow barriers that had previously blocked your way. They are functionally identical to the equipment Batman had before, only with a red glow. Shock Gloves are replaced by Thermal Gloves, Batarangs by Thermal Batarangs, and so on.

Completing side-quests unlocks more thermal gear, such as the Triple Thermal Batarang, but it just adds a little extra spice to the equipment tree. The most significant new ability is using the Thermal Batarang to knock down icicles on to enemies. This is used mostly in the predator segments and offers a new, powerful way to take down foes.

The DLC's sole boss fight uses this mechanic heavily, and it's the most significant change to the gameplay. There's a single new type of enemy, the Ice Gun goon, who can temporarily freeze Batman in place. Compared to the more exciting new goons like the Martial Artist, the Ice Gun enemy feels pretty lackluster, but basically, he's like a less dangerous version of the gun enemies and goes down in a single takedown.

Cold, Cold Heart is a microcosm of Arkham Origins. It is more of the same, with little in the way of surprises or new mechanics. Even the new Batsuit feels overly familiar. It's a fun little side adventure and feels more complete than Harley Quinn's Revenge, but in the end, it is just more Arkham. If you're in the mood for more Batman adventure to tide you over until Arkham Knight hits stores, it's a good DLC that adds another two hours of gameplay.

The Batman: Arkham Origins Season Pass is a pretty good value for $19.99. You get a good amount of new gameplay, and an additional playable character in the Challenge modes. The main game doesn't change, and there are no new revelations or gameplay tweaks. As much as I enjoy the Arkham series, it's getting a bit long in the tooth. If you want more Arkham Origins, then it delivers. Otherwise, it'd be wiser to wait for Arkham Knight when it hits later this year.

Score: 7.5/10

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