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Reflecting Upon Harley’s Lackluster Revenge
Warning: spoilers ahead…
Arkham City was by far my favorite game to come out this year; if not of all time. I am a glutton of all things Batman and anxiously awaited a storyline DLC to come along for Arkham City. I was very excited to learn that the DLC would focus on Harley’s revenge for Joker’s death as that seemed to be the most logical direction to go after the conclusion of Arkham City. Also, I was excited to play as the badass Robin that was somewhat re-imagined for Arkham City (not to mention it would be fun to play as someone else in Arkham City). So, after about three hours of game play, my DLC was completed and I was left disappointed.
I don’t think there have been many times besides the Val Kilmer and George Clooney Batman attempts that I have uttered the words “Batman” and “disappointed” in the same rant. But, I have to say, I was left desiring more after Harley Quinn’s Revenge. Granted, Harley is somewhat of a ditz and is not one that should have any chance of successfully executing any type of revenge on The Dark Knight, but I was hoping in the midst of her losing her Mister J that she would have snapped and really put together some sort of psychotic plot regardless of potential to succeed.
As unstable as Harley is, I would imagine her to go mad with power and loss, which was somewhat reflected upon by her goons in the game, and to be terrifying because she no longer had anything truly to lose (besides the baby Joker in her belly but I don’t see that outweighing her loss of Joker). In the game, you first play as Batman until you are caught and then Robin is sent in to rescue old Bats. In a nutshell, Robin finds Batman trapped in a beautiful statue/monument to the joker, gets the key from Quinn to release him, and then does. After, Harley arms some bombs she has planted around the building and you must disarm each bomb within a time limit as Batman. After doing so Quinn activates her hidden bombs and after they explode Batman, Quinn, and Robin are all safe outside the building. (There is a wonderful moment when we think Robin has died and Quinn screams “How does it feel Bats?”)
Why am I disappointed? I am let down because this felt so bland to me. The deep, emotional, dark, rich storytelling that has made Arkham City and Arkham Asylum so fantastic was non-existant in Harley Quinn’s Revenge. I wanted to be scared at the mental transformation Harley would go through after Joker died. She blames Batman completely for his death, yet it feels like she half-heartedly attempted revenge. If you play the DLC I think you will see what I mean.
What I wanted to see in this DLC was a level of malevolence that neither Robin nor Batman would expect from her. I wanted an epic fight between Robin and Harley in which they defend their personal heroes. I wanted to see concern in Robin’s eyes as he struggled to foil Harley because he underestimated her. I wanted to see a glint of emotion (as we are usually only given a glint) from Batman when he notices how torn Harley is at Joker’s death. Batman lost as much as Harley did when Joker died and the ending of Arkham Asylum perfectly represented this emotion. At the beginning of the DLC, Gordon even asks Batman if he is ok and mentions that he hasn’t been the same since Joker’s death. I would like to see more of this. We know how opposed Batman is to killing, I would have loved to see something from him in the DLC that showed how tortured he is and how much he blames himself for Joker’s death.
The gameplay was fun, the environment, as usual, was dark and beautiful. What was missed this time was the storytelling and the chance to really tell a unique and original tale. This is the first we have seen Harley face Joker’s death and, whether I hyped it up too much myself or not, I thought there would be much more emotion displayed. This was new ground for all Batman fans and I don’t think I would be the only one expecting an epic new chapter to the Batman universe, nor will I be the only one looking past this chapter and waiting for the next.
Did anyone else feel the same way? How would you have liked to see this story play out?