Much like how 2011’s Batman: Arkham City capped off its DLC with the release of Harley Quinn’s Revenge, so to does Batman: Arkham Origins with this weeks release of Cold, Cold, Heart. While in the eyes of many Origins never reached the high standards of the games that came before it, WB Games Montreal has proven with this expansion that they’re more than capable of crafting some excellent add on content.
Taking place on New Years Eve following the events in Origins, the humanitarian of the year awards are crashed by Mr. Freeze who demands they hand over philanthropist Ferris Boyle or else. Unfortunately for Freeze, he unwittingly crashed the party of Batman, and thus the Caped Crusader suits up into action to get to the bottom of the mystery regarding his new icy nemesis, and why he’s passionately seeking someone who has publicly contributed to the well being of Gotham City.
CCH doesn’t add anything substantial to the Arkham lore, in fact the main foe you’re tangling with already appeared in Arkham City’s main story, however the tale spun does a great job of humanizing Victor Fries as by the end you’re thinking of the character as less of a villain and more of a tragic victim of circumstance. It’s familiar territory mind you; Mr. Freeze and his quest to cure his wife’s terminal illness after his tragic origin were how the character was introduced in Batman: the Animated Series in the 90’s, but it still works here and fits well with the established Arkham universe. The same can’t be said for the inevitable showdown with Freeze, as the team at WB Games Montreal had a snowball’s chance in hell (come on, you know I had to squeeze one in SOMEWHERE) of topping the excellent fight in the GCPD lab in Arkham City, but what’s presented here reminded me of fighting him in Ubisoft’s Batman: Vengeance on the GameCube, and not in a good way.
One of my main grips with Harley Quinn’s revenge is that they limited the map to one section and more or less forced you through the story, giving you little time to explore with the new character (Robin) and his new tool set, as well as forcing you to replay the entire section if you wanted to look for collectibles or hunt for achievements. You’re quarantined off to a section of the map here, but you’ll never have to traverse over the bridge between the two sections of Gotham. You can also freeplay in the CCH DLC to accomplish the one new side quest, or hunt for Anarky tags or defrost GCPD officers with your new tools.
Another complaint that can be logged against Harley Quinn’s revenge was that it not only restricted the Arkham City map, but it didn’t add any new places for you to explore. From the get go in CCH your placed for in Wayne manor, which you get to explore for the first time in the series, taking down thugs as Bruce Wayne searching for secret batcave entrances. A second brand new environment, Gothcorp, has also been added. It’s here where most of the main story takes place and you’ll uncover the mystery behind Victor Fries.
Starting off you’ll wear your traditional batsuit, but you do gain access to the new “XE” (extreme environment suit) that comes with some new toys: the Thermo charged batarangs and Thermo gloves. Much like some of the new gadgets functioned like derivations of equipment in Arkham City, so do the new tools here. The gloves act like as a replacement for the shock gloves where instead of charging power boxes, you melt through walls. The new batarang type does provide some extra tricks up its sleeve: Batman can melt frozen perches and drop stalactites on unsuspecting goons for a new type of take down attack.
Standing in opposition of your new arsenal is yet another enemy type that I’ll dub the “Ice Heavy.” They come equipped with a version of Mr. Freeze’s ice gun and can freeze you in place if you’re not quick enough, or you can smartly take cover behind another combatant to freeze them in place. One aspect I loved about the combat in Arkham Origins was how crowd control was made more challenging by the various types of enemies, and here another wrinkle is added to the fold.
At a price of $9.99, Arkham fans who still have their copy of Origins have no reason not to check out CCH. With a new batsuit, gadgets, foes and a compelling story to play through that should take you anywhere between 2.5-3 hours to complete, you won’t be counting down the minutes until this return trip to Gotham City is over.