Harley Quinn’s one of the most popular new Batman characters to appear in the last few years. She’s finally playable in Arkham Knight, starring in what serves as a prequel to the story in the main game. But, despite being a free add-on, the story pack starring the Joker’s sometime girlfriend isn’t worth the time it takes to download.
There’s been some confusion as to how exactly to get the DLC, which was offered as a pre-order incentive before the game’s release. For some console owners, there’s a download code right in the game box but some PC users who pre-ordered still aren’t sure how to access the extra content. Confused about what you may or not be missing? Keep reading.
Simply put, the story pack that makes Harley Quinn playable is short, shallow and shrill. The entire thing can be blown through in about 30 minutes. Worse still, it underscores all the worst character traits that have been slathered on Harley Quinn since her cartoon introduction years ago. Here, she’s on a Scarecrow-commanded mission to break out Poison Ivy from the jail of neighboring city Bludhaven, so the plant-loving villainess can help the fearmonger with his big Kill-Batman plan.
From a gameplay perspective, the Harley Quinn spotlight is bare bones. Stealth isn’t an option in the short DLC offering, which means that it’s pretty much just moving through the environment, beating down the cops and blowing up the walls that stand between her and Ivy. She fights in much the same way as other characters have in the series, bouncing from opponent to opponent in acrobatic free-for-alls.
The gadgets at her disposal—pellets filled with non-lethal laughing gas and a Jack-in-the-box that detonates—act like the smoke bombs and explosive gel in Batman’s utility belt. Likewise for Harley’s Psychosis Mode, which stands in for Detective Vision. The character does get a unique Mayhem Mode feature which turns all her attacks into one-hit takedowns for a limited time but that’s about it in terms of anything that feels unique to her.
For every one clever beat in the story pack—like the legible scribbles in Psychosis Mode or split-personality mental dialogue where Harley shouts down Harleen’s pleas to be heard—there are more that feel like dumb choices or missed opportunities. Having the Penguin call Harley a harlot in a game over screen feels egregious and gross, especially after enduring a running thread filled with him greasily inquiring after her asking price. This Harley also doesn’t have any agency of her own. She doesn’t want to kill Batman or free Ivy because of her own motivations but to serve another character’s goals. At the end, when she reunites with Ivy after kicking Nightwing’s butt, there’s not even a moment that nods at the special relationship the characters have had over the years.
This is a Harley who’s all screeches, without the sly poignancy and yearning that humanized her in her earliest showcases. So, if you’re worried about what you might not be able to play in the Harley Quinn Story Pack, don’t stress too much. The offering feels slapped together and misses the mark on what’s made the character a fan favorite. It’s DLC to laugh at, not laugh with.
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