In the six months since Batman: Arkham Knight hit shelves, gamers have been waiting to see if that $40 season pass Rocksteady made available would ever be worth the hefty price tag. So far, the bits of DLC have included a few short "episodes," which wound up being glorified challenge maps; a few racing tracks that lost their luster after a few go-arounds; and a collection of alternate skins that proved to be the highlight of the entire package.
This was all supposed to change with the release of the new Season of Infamy: Most Wanted DLC pack, which features four expanded missions that bring back classic Batman foes from previous Arkham titles: Mr. Freeze, The Mad Hatter, Killer Croc and Ra's al Ghul.
So does the pack make the season pass finally worth it? Is it even worth the $9.99 price that you can nab it for without the pass? Well, it's almost impossible to endorse a $40 expansion to a game you already paid full price for, but with this new content, Arkham Knight is shaping into one of the most expansive games available this generation — putting to shame titles like Star Wars: Battlefront, which uses DLC as a necessity, not an extra for hardcore fans.
Unlike the individual episodes, like the "Matter of Family" map, these additional plots play out like the game's Most Wanted missions — placing players back into the open world of Gotham, taking care of one objective at a time. Because each mission varies wildly in terms of quality, tone and gameplay, I'll break 'em down individually.
In From The Cold
The pack's best mission is also the one that's also the most heartfelt. Focusing on Mr. Freeze's never-ending struggle to cure his wife Nora, "In From The Cold" places Batman in the wreckage of a ship that has been overtaken and ripped apart by mysterious glaciers. From there, you meet Freeze, who tasks you with tracking down Nora and returning her.
The gameplay here is fairly straightforward: stealthily clear out some guard posts, then rumble with a few generic hoods and finally battle some militia tanks in the Batmobile. That's not what makes "In From The Cold" work so well, though; it's the story that holds it all together. Freeze's ill-fated marriage and the sacrifices both he and Nora make for one last moment together lend a tragic beauty to Arkham's grim and gritty veneer.
From the heights of digital storytelling, to the absolute depths, "Wonderland" screeches Season of Infamy to a grinding halt by putting the Dark Knight on a journey to rescue police officers taken hostage by the Mad Hatter.
The whole episode is nothing but a scavenger hunt until the end, when Batman gets sucked into Hatter's story book to battle his way through the ghosts of Arkham's past and put an end to this Lewis Carroll nightmare. While the pop-up book scenario pays nice homage to the franchise's history — especially the little nod to the Asylum itself — you probably won't find yourself yearning to go back through the looking glass.
Beneath The Surface
It's just not an Arkham game without an appearance from Killer Croc, apparently. However, this episode rises above the deja vu of other encounters by slowing things down and going back to the franchise's horror roots.
Most of the action takes place on the downed Blackgate Prison blimp. As you sneak through the ruined corridors — all the while hearing Croc swimming in the waters below you and witnessing the aftermath of his destruction — it's hard not to feel an Arkham Asylum vibe from the whole thing.
While the Arkham franchise has certainly gotten bigger and better in recent years, it's come at the expense of the mood and atmosphere of the original. "Beneath the Surface" brings that back — although a bit too little, too late in some respects. Especially since the whole thing eventually devolves into a boss fight with Croc that's so one-dimensional you almost feel bad for the big guy as you pound him without breaking a sweat.
"Shadow War" manages to trump Croc and Hatter's adventures by featuring a story that could have carried an entire game by itself. After Alfred alerts Batman to a League of Assassin sighting, the Caped Crusader has to find the source. It's here we discover that Ra's al Ghul survived his apparent death in Arkham City, and he needs Batman's help to find the last Lazarus Pit in Gotham City.
This story — like the Freeze mission — manages to bring closure to al Ghul's storyline from the past Arkham games. It's not accident that the two best missions are also the ones with real consequences. Locking up Croc and Hatter just feel like filler when compared with the others.
"Shadow War" doesn't shake up the Arkham gameplay formula — however, the ninja battle in the hospital is pretty damn pulsating — but the characters make it work. It doesn't take more than an hour to complete, but for Arkham diehards, it's an important piece of the mythology that is necessary to see through.
Though the Season of Infamy pack doesn't make the season pass worth it on its own, it makes for a tempting package when coupled with all of the other episodes, skins and race tracks already available. While $40 is still way too much for the whole thing, and $10 for the Infamy pack on its own is a bit high for less than four hours of gameplay, more Arkham is never a bad thing, right?
It's just a shame that only two of the missions really feel of any substance; if all four hit those narrative highs, the price tag wouldn't still be an issue. As it stands, though, it's an enjoyable pack for the Rocksteady devotees.
- Two missions that have consequences for the Arkham lore
- Some great character moments
- New areas to explore
A couple of worthless missions
- Still lacking gameplay variety and gameplay length