Starburst Magazine - - Reviews - joel har­ley

By now, gamers and Bat­fans should have had time to fin­ish and soak in the events of Bat­man: Arkham Knight. With the Knight un­masked, neme­ses de­feated and the Rid­dler still hid­ing un­der­ground in his stupid Aliens­esque con­trap­tion (let’s be hon­est, he’ll stay there for most of us, be­yond the most avid Rid­dle-seek­ers and com­pletists), many will be look­ing for their next Arkham fix.

Said fix has ar­rived in the form of Bat­girl: A Mat­ter of Fam­ily, a story-led pre­quel in which Bat­girl (Bar­bara Gor­don, pre-Killing Joke) and Robin (shaven-headed Tim Drake) res­cue kid­napped GCPD of­fi­cers from Joker’s fun­land. For a dead guy, The Joker sure does get about still. It’s an odd choice of vil­lain, given how much of Arkham Knight was de­voted to putting the Clown Prince of Crime to rest once and for all, but the fran­chise never has been par­tic­u­larly imag­i­na­tive with its vil­lains.

With Com­mis­sioner Gor­don (Jonathan Banks, still sound­ing like Jonathan Banks) in the fir­ing line and Bat­man nowhere to be seen, Bat­girl and Robin must bat­tle their way through a bad-guy-packed amuse­ment park, all the way to their in­evitable con­fronta­tion with The Joker and Har­ley Quinn. Bat­girl’s name is in the ti­tle, though, and it’s Bat­girl who you’ll spend most of your time with – like he was in Arkham Knight, the Boy Won­der is playable only dur­ing the big bat­tles, al­low­ing for dual take­downs and quick-fire switch­ing be­tween char­ac­ters.

A few less gad­gets and a vastly de­creased life bar aside though, you’d be hard-pressed to see any real dif­fer­ence in the game­play. Bat­girl plays al­most ex­actly like men­tor Bat­man, save for slightly dif­fer­ing an­i­ma­tions and maybe a lit­tle ex­tra speed. The cos­tume looks good though (the bulky ears are a nice touch), the flow­ing red hair and spots of yel­low con­sis­tent with how she’s gen­er­ally looked through­out the years. She’s not the only one look­ing good: A Mat­ter of Fam­ily brings back the tra­di­tional domino out­fit for Har­ley Quinn – a lovely change from what­ever stupid getup she usu­ally ends up wear­ing ev­ery­where else these days.

There’s no free-roam­ing, no side mis­sions and no ve­hi­cles: at roughly an hour’s game­play, A Mat­ter of Fam­ily is short, stripped back and largely free of in­ven­tion. Res­cu­ing the cops from Joker’s fun­house con­trap­tions is fun, but play­ers shouldn’t ex­pect much from the game. Even Bar­bara’s tech­ni­cal know-how is un­der­utilised – lit­er­ally all she gets to do is dis­arm a few bombs and set off a few traps, us­ing ex­actly the same hack­ing de­vice as Bat­man. It seems to take her longer too, so ev­i­dently she’ll need to get a bit more prac­tice in be­fore be­com­ing com­puter ge­nius Or­a­cle.

Fin­ish­ing on an en­joy­ably sat­is­fy­ing fist­fight, A Mat­ter of Fam­ily does what it does well enough, but that’s about it. There’s none of the fa­ther/daugh­ter drama the pro­mo­tional imagery led us to ex­pect (Gor­don pulling a gun on Bat­girl!) nor any changes or ad­di­tions to the Arkham mythos that might have jus­ti­fied this empty-headed lit­tle tale. This Bat-fam­ily af­fair is a story that ul­ti­mately doesn’t, well, mat­ter.

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