REVIEW: BATMAN - ARKHAM ORIGINS – COLD, COLD HEART / PUBLISHER: WARNER BROS / PLATFORM: VARIOUS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Work may be well underway on Arkham Batman’s swansong with Arkham Knight, but he’s not quite done with this generation just yet. The sulky young Batman of Arkham Origins is back, battling Mr Freeze for the first time in this DLC add-on story.
Arkham Origins had the frostiest reception of the Arkham games, thanks to its glitchy mechanics, repetitive story and lack of Rocksteady polish. While it worked well in places, few could argue that it’s up there with the greatness of Arkham Asylum and City. Still, any excuse to pull on the cape and cowl will do, even if it is far from Batman at his prime.
Cold, Cold Heart throws you into the middle of Batman’s first encounter with Mr Freeze, the villain attacking during a fundraiser at Wayne Manor and kidnapping wealthy entrepreneur Ferris Boyle. Kidnapping a guest and attempting to burn the place to the ground, it’s hardly the best icebreaker for a first meeting between Batman and Victor Fries. Trapped in the middle of a grudge-match between Freeze, Boyle and the Penguin, a quick tour of Gotham is in order for Batman (thankfully not via that tedious bridge) to settle their collective hashes before one – or all of them – can do something terrible. Not forgetting, of course, to pick up some new threads with which to battle Fries and his freeze ray.
Where Harley Quinn’s Revenge felt rushed and inconsequential, Arkham Origins’ add-on tale is a surprisingly lengthy and story-orientated affair. Comics aficionados will recognise the story as a fairly faithful retelling of Mr Freeze’s origins, albeit with added Penguin and some padding in places. As the most tragic of Batman’s villains, Freeze is a good choice as Big Bad, making a nice change from all the Joker-centric stories we’ve had of late, as well as providing a counterpoint to the series’ aggression. Still, it would have been (n)ice to see a villain we’ve not fought before. The Penguin is quickly becoming overexposed to this universe, entertaining as his cockney antics might be.
You’ll fight your way through Wayne Manor (the semi-destruction of which Batman seems fairly unconcerned about), Penguin’s nightclub and a couple of other new locations, battering bad guys and skulking through stealth sections as you go. The gameplay is as gratifyingly punchy as it’s ever been, while the goons are treated to a nifty new weapon with which to really disrupt your flow. Seems everyone in Arkham has a freeze ray of their own, making combat a slightly more frustrating affair. You could always cheat and use the electro-charge punching gloves (now with heat mode) but doing so will make you feel a little cheap and un-Batman like.
Fun, well-paced and surprisingly substantial, Cold, Cold Heart is well worth the relatively small price tag. Where Arkham Origins left many feeling cold, this DLC is pretty cool.