Developer: Warner Bros. Montreal
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Plot: As Ferris Boyle accepts a humanitarian award, he is attacked by Penguin’s goons, led by a vengeful Mr. Freeze. Unluckily for the bad guys, the award was being hosted at Wayne Mayor, the secret residence of the Batman.
Before reviewing this DLC, I had to ask myself the question of what the goal of this small add-on to the critically divisive Arkham Origins was. While some might see it as a little Bat-lite and unsatisfying, personally I see this as little more than an excuse to be Batman for a little while longer, while coming to grips with one of Arkham City’s better villains. With those targets set, A Cold, Cold Heart performs admirably.
The DLC throws you right back into Gotham, the same map from the game, albeit not as expansive, switching up enough new stuff to stop you getting bored from a stale nature of the game, Origin’s biggest flaw. It does feel like you never stopped playing the original storyline. Mr. Freeze and Penguin are wreaking havoc around the city and you are zip-lining around, stopping them from carrying out their little war. However, at the same time, small side-missions are thrown into the map, so you aren’t just following a singular storyline, which was the main problem with the last DLC Arkahm gave us, Harley Quinn’s Revenge. There is nothing major to tackle, just three additonal achievements to pick up. Sure, it is a little strange that Origins chose its side-villain to be Anarky, arguably the weakest nemesis Arkham has given us yet, but it helps switch the game up, especially when the DLC is completed and you are allowed to properly throw yourself into Gotham, tying up loose ends (another thing that Quinn’s DLC missed out on).
There is enough new stuff to make the same old formula feel fresh. One example is starting the game as Bruce Wayne. It’s a small thing, but as you fight your way to the Bat-suit, it is a nice way of exploring Bruce a little bit more, something we haven’t really seen before. Also, Mr. Freeze’s icy labyrinths offer up new challenges. It is always small things, so don’t expect to be alienated by a wholly different system. Ice walls that need to be tackled with thermal gloves rather than explosive gel. There is a brand new fighting technique where you can melt giant stalacties, causing them to fall and crush your foes. Best of all, midway through the game, you get to put on a brand, new suit, designed to take on Freeze in his cold hideaways. It seems like a small thing, but when you get to glide around in this new armoured outfit, it causes the Bat-Fans to get a shiver down their spine, as they gleefully launch themselves at enemies.
There is a new type of enemy as well. Seeing as Mr. Freeze is introduced to us, as an armsdealer selling Penguin his cryo-weapons (don’t worry, his background is a lot more complicated than just another mobster), we end up fighting Penguin’s men who have been armed with freeze guns. In fact, they replace the armoured thugs from the actual game, switching the style up a bit. At first, they are a fun change, but then you realise that you are likely to be facing one with every new battle sequence. They are moderately difficult, but are more irritating than challenging, especially as they freeze you, breaking that combo players try so hard to get up to the fifties level. However, I like that the game gives you different ways to tackle them. The instructions suggest that you fight them in the same way you would a Titan-infested mercenary from the original game. Flash your cape to stun them and then beat them down, until their weapon crumbles from their grasp. However, after some experience, you learn to hold back before the fight begins and use your gadgets on them. If you can get them on the floor right from the start, you can take them out before anyone even knows you’re there. Or maybe you get so skilled at dodging their freeze rays, you let them turn everyone else to ice, making the fight a lot easier.
But this is all typical Arkham. It is fresh enough, but critics will still complain about the routine gameplay. The responsiblity falls on Mr. Freeze himself to make the DLC memorable. And he does with incredible results. His origin story is the right side of touching, without turning him into a too sympathetic character. Exactly how the comics originally wanted him. I think it helps with the contained style of the DLC. With the main story, the writers can give us a cool villain, but they have the safety net of the next boss around the corner. If they mess up depicting the Penguin, players might forgive them as soon as Deathstroke comes around the corner. That is why the games are often bloated with villains. However, with the DLC, the writers need to nail Mr. Freeze or the experience is a flop. It doesn’t help that Arkham City left our expectations high, as Freeze was the highlight of the game. Thankfully, the pressure helps Warner Bros. come up with a proper way to show off Mr. Freeze. The final fight is dramatic, echoing the final collision with Bane in Origins. You need to use your wits, reflexes and experience to make it out to the other side of the game. It makes taking him down all the more satisfying. And that is exactly what we want from this DLC: satisfaction.
Final Verdict: As far as DLCs go, A Cold, Cold Heart excels. Mr. Freeze is a great nemesis and the level structure is fresh enough for success.
Nice review. I bought Origins when it first came out but never quite got into it, I feel I need to remedy that soon.
Sounds cool! If I can get it, I may have to give it a try–I’m not sure if DLC is available for Wii U or not. Knowing the treatment Wii U has been getting lately, probably not. Good review though!