Although Batman: Arkham Knight centred upon the Caped Crusader, he wasn’t the blockbuster’s only playable character. In fact, multiple heroes and villains were called upon during the game’s lengthy and rather great campaign, including Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman. It’s an impressive list, and one that was briefly complemented by two short, pre-order based DLC episodes featuring Harley Quinn and the gun-toting Red Hood.
Prior to the game’s launch, we were made well aware of the fact that it’d be getting at least three different story packs as paid DLC, and it didn’t take long for the first one to debut. Titled “A Matter of Family,” it adds to the list of Gotham’s episodes and centres upon Batgirl as she attempts to save her father from the devious Joker’s clutches. However, while it’s longer than what came before it (which isn’t much to gloat about considering that the Harley Quinn and Red Hood pre-order episodes were only about ten to fifteen minutes long), it’s still surprisingly short and doesn’t offer enough to warrant a glowing recommendation.
Set years before the events of the base campaign, on a dark and foreboding Valentine’s Day night, Batman: Arkham Knight‘s “A Matter of Family” DLC is more interested in action than it is in presenting a memorable story. In fact, what we get is rather limited and is simply there because it needs to be. It’s basically just a reason for the add-on to exist, and because of that, it’s lacking in depth and detail. As such, all you really need to know or care about is that Jim Gordon has been captured and is in danger.
Even though things take place in a brand new and entirely separate location, the dark and gloomy Seagate Amusement Park isn’t used all that well. Sure, it looks like something you’d find in Gotham — what with its unfinished, Gothic and creepy nature — but it doesn’t feel unique and isn’t all that interesting.
Whether you take the time to fully explore Seagate is up to you, because its main objectives won’t take you long to complete, nor will they have you investigating every inch of the island. Unfortunately, the DLC’s six or seven main objectives — which are mostly comprised of combat and predator engagements, hostage rescues and bomb defusing hacks — only take about one to one-and-a-half hours to complete, which doesn’t equate all that well with its seven dollar asking price. Then again, in comparison to the game’s other two add-ons, “A Matter of Family” is an epic.
Those who wish to take their time and fully complete things will find some added playtime in the form of collectible hunting, as the Joker has gone to the trouble of hiding not only balloons, but chattering teeth and jack-in-the-boxes as well. Finding them all will net you a trophy or achievement, but doing so isn’t necessary.
Getting back to the gameplay, it’s important to note that Barbara Gordon controls a lot like Bruce Wayne did, except with more grace and elegance. She animates well and has a great-looking character model, but isn’t very different. That is, outside of her smarts, which allow her to use her remote hacking device to alert, hurt or stun enemies. Even that is rather simple, though, and it certainly doesn’t show much outside-of-the-box thinking, because all you really get to do is turn on, explode or electrify different things.
Team battles (featuring Robin, as you’d expect) also return, as do fear takedowns, which were one of Batman: Arkham Knight‘s better additions. This time, however, Barbara must use her speed and agility to take out as many enemies as she can before their stunned states wear off. It’s different in comparison to how Batman’s worked, because he was always able to take out groups of enemies with quick-strike fear takedowns so long as the ability’s meter was full. Batgirl, on the other hand, must use stun her enemies before knocking them unconscious this way. Hacks are good for this, because triggered explosions and bouts of smoke can stun multiple enemies at one time.
For better or worse, the Batmobile doesn’t make an appearance here, and that’s likely to make a lot of people happy. There’s no need for it, though, especially given the small-scale size of the amusement park.
As with our review of the full game, this “A Matter of Family” review is based on the Xbox One version of Batman: Arkham Knight. And, for the most part, the DLC runs rather well on that console. We did encounter two consecutive glitches, though, one of which randomly paused the game and forced us to wait as it loaded. Once the loading symbol disappeared, we were teleported several feet forward and placed on the ground, where some textures started fading in and out. It was abrupt and unexpected, but didn’t mar the experience too much.
Ultimately, “A Matter of Family” exists as a way to make more money off a great game. The problem is that it feels like more of a cash-in than anything else and doesn’t offer a memorable experience. It’s fine, serviceable and has a few cool moments, but is too short, generic and uninspired to really hit home.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
A Matter of Family had a lot of potential, but a short runtime and rather routine gameplay keep it from standing above Batman: Arkham Knight's other short and middling DLC episodes.