The fight beyond the Arkham Knight begins as Batman: Arkham Knight – A Matter of Family hits for PlayStation®4 and Xbox®One. Does Batgirl’s introduction into the Arkhamverse hit all the right notes, or is it a misconducted symphony?
Note that the PC version of A Matter of Family has been officially delayed in regards to the technical issues of the main game itself. We can not comment on any refinements or issues that may be present in its future release.
A Matter of Family takes place during the pre-Arkham Asylum days, where Barbara Gordon is still protecting the streets as Batgirl, accompanied by Tim Drake’s Robin during the events of this prequel. After the Joker takes Commissioner Gordon and some of his fellow GCPD officers hostage the duo takes it upon himself to free them and disrupt the Joker’s schemes, which are set in a nearby ocean-bound amusement park. Unable to ask Batman for help the two fight through the amusement park to save the hostages in peril.So what’s the twist? There really isn’t one to be honest. Whilst A Matter of Family provides some fairly decent material for the Joker and Harley Quinn (now donned in her classic costume), the story really doesn’t do anything really interesting throughout its events. The Joker has an evil scheme and Barbara has to save her dad, which is basically as much of a summary of the entire story as any, which isn’t necessarily bad but the payoff and character development for its protagonists and side-characters seem awfully absent, even for the limited time we spend with them.
Ultimately an important factor involving all these issues is the fact that the story doesn’t seem to have the same guts that the main game does, which arguably earns its mature rating with its themes and referred source material, which on its own wouldn’t be an issue, but thematically A Matter of Family just can’t find its place within its own narrative and the greater scale of Arkham Knight, which is extremely disappointing.Considering the fact that I’ve already covered the base game when it comes to its basic presentation I won’t bore you with the greater scale of things, which you can read in our Batman: Arkham Knight review. Instead, I’ll shortly dive into my impressions of the general design involved in this extension of Arkham Knight. A Matter of Family exchanges the huge city of Gotham for a more closed and personal scale, that being an abandoned amusement park just off the shore of Gotham, which has been transformed into the Joker’s own personal torture paradise. The setting here is downright the best aspect of the short-lived campaign, which adds a creative push of variation that doesn’t tread on re-using too many environmental assets of the main campaign, which is an issue open-world games often have when adding additional content. Seagate Amusement Park isn’t huge, but it’s crammed with detail and character.When it comes to character design there isn’t much new to note with the exception of the addition of Batgirl and Harley Quinn’s classic outfit, which both make their first appearance in the Arkhamverse during the events of this DLC. WB Montreal has done an excellent job at extending the base of the universe that Rocksteady have set, which creates a mix of both classic designs and the more modern rough take that we’ve become accustomed to in the Arkhamverse.When it comes to offerring comprehensive gameplay additions and content A Matter of Family seems to be somewhat of a cheap spender. Combat in general is still as fluid as the main game, though that’s mostly due to the fact that it continues to use the dual-combat system that Arkham Knight itself showcases in its secondary missions, allowing players to switch characters and perform excellent finishing moves. Of course this system still works perfectly, but it doesn’t add much to it either. Batgirl’s combat for instance is pretty much identical to Batman’s, albeit with a smaller arsenal of gadgets than her mentor. What does the campaign hold in store when it comes to gameplay elements? The game mainly consists of multiple combat and/or stealth encounters that Batgirl must go through in order to save the hostages that have been taken by the Joker. Rather than the more open-ended approach of the main game the DLC takes it upon itself to choose a more closed environment for several of its encounters, which are well made, but in the end the biggest issue is the fact that there just aren’t many, and the length of its contents are simply too short for most of them to make a lasting impact on your gameplay experience. Hacking is noted to be one of Batgirl’s talents during the story, but the game limits itself to the same use of the remote hacking device Batman uses, which really is as much of a tedious machine at times as it is overly simplistic.
The DLC leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to the narrative, but there simply isn’t much to the gameplay that justifies the existence of A Matter of Family in its current form. The only noteworthy section would be the fact that the campaign does offer a more traditional boss battle, a department where the main game did showcase some shortcomings.The game does have some collectables for players to collect during or after the story, but there are no riddles or puzzle elements present to keep the players occupied for much longer than the duration of the story, which only clocks in at about an hour or so, depending on the pace of the player in question.Arkham Knight’s price of admission to the season pass may be steep, but is A Matter of Family a good opener and a sign for its run? Not really. Suffering from a lack of narrative depth and actual noteworthy additions to the gameplay A Matter of Family really does feel like filler material, despite the excellent design of its areas which would seem to be suited for a much better run that it’s been given to work with. Next month’s Season of Infamy may be the turning point regarding many’s expectations for Arkham Knight’s season pass, but the glimpse we’ve gotten isn’t anything to be excited about.