DLC Review: Batman Arkham Origins – Cold, Cold Heart [PC/PS3/Xbox360]
Taking place after the events of Arkham Origins, “Cold, Cold Heart” follows the story of Victor Fries, an uninvited guest that barges into the humanitarian recognition event, and leaves everyone frozen in his path. Unfortunately for him, Mr. Wayne is hosting the event, and we all know who he is. As Penguins goons start swarming around Wayne’s mansion, he is called to action once again as The Caped Crusader. However, before you can suit up, you have to make your way to one of the many cleverly hidden entrances that leads to the Batcave, and as always, standing in your way are the thugs.
Honestly, I really cannot get enough of the Bruce fight scenes, especially when he is out of his Batsuit. It really helps define his character, by reminding you that BRUCE is the one who spent countless number of years training himself to perfection in different fields without the use of the iconic Batsuit. He may be legendary with the Batsuit, but he is a lethal weapon without it. Also, the slick fight animations seem cooler when matched with a guy wearing a sharp tuxedo/suit. This is another reason why I loved the opening in Arkham City, where you start as Bruce and manage to pummel the prison thugs without the help of your gadgets.
Most of the gameplay remains the same as Arkham Origins, where you’ve got quickfire gadgets mixed with your satisfying free-flow combat technique that makes a minimum use of two buttons. However, where it differs is in a new enemy, environment and suit type. The new enemy type is like your regular big brawlers, who need to be stunned first in order for your punches to have effect. The only difference is with previous games and with Arkham Origins, is that the thugs don’t carry huge freaking freeze rays on their back.
In this DLC, they obviously use it to freeze you from far away, engulfing you in ice that you can break out of by rapidly tapping on your action/run button. The coolest thing about the enemy’s freeze ray though, is being able to outmanoeuvre it and putting your enemies in the line of fire, freezing them instead. It works great to your advantage and can actually help you through overcrowded areas.
The new environment type is basically areas covered in cryogenic mist. These areas cannot be accessed at the beginning of the DLC as Batman needs the XE suit in order to withstand extreme temperatures. However, once he does acquire it, he can freely move around these areas in order to clear the mist out. The visual element that really stood out to me, especially during these moments was how the screen started getting frosted and Batman’s suit started freezing up as you walked into a colder region.
The new suit which I mentioned before is the XE suit. It looks really cool and heavy, but works almost like your regular suit, with the same agility level and move-set. However, what’s different about this suit is that rather than having the shock gauntlets, you have the thermal ones. They function pretty much as the shock ones do, by either helping you with obstacles in your path or laying down added amounts of hurt to your enemies. For the obstacles, you will come across these frozen consoles, which you can thaw by pressing down on the action button as Batman melts the ice.
You can even complete the side-quest where you have to thaw out all the police officers that have been frozen by Mr. Freeze. For combat, after you’ve recharged the gloves the same way you would shock gloves, by beating enemies senselessly you can activate them in order to give you an edge against armoured enemies. The thermal gloves also heat up your Batarangs, allowing you to break ice from a distance and even drop ice spikes on unsuspecting enemies, immediately knocking them out during the predator sections.
Moving on to the story, the DLC is completely based on “Heart of Ice” from The Animated Series, taking into account Gothcorp, it’s CEO Ferris Boyle, and his actions that are ultimately responsible for giving birth to another addition in the rogues gallery. The game starts off on a nice pace where Penguin’s men help Dr. Fries capture ferries, because he apparently knows the code to a secret department inside Gothcorp, which allegedly houses a dangerous weapon, explaining Penguins angle in all this. However, Batman still doesn’t know much about Dr. Fries and what happened with him, causing him to go through this really interesting investigation where the truth is finally revealed.
The momentum throughout was great in my opinion, but the unfairly designed boss battle ruined it. WB Montreal pretty much tried to recreate the iconic Freeze boss fight from Arkham City, where you have to take him down with a variety of methods, which mostly remain the same except for the ability to drop ice spikes this time around. It isn’t that they shouldn’t have copied it, but if they did, they should’ve at least innovated on it in order to put a new spin on the mechanics. Unfortunately as it stands, it treads a lot of old ground. Mixed up with the impossible difficulty with that, and you have a grade a recipe for a frustrating level. (I do mean frustrating, as it kind of made me weaken the A button on my Xbox controller for Windows).
Another set of aspects that really creeped me out were the horrendous facial animations and lip-sync. They do not AT ALL feel realistic, and more than half the time it seems as if someone has accidentally glued their teeth shut, causing them too helplessly make sounds through their awkwardly moving lips. The voice over on the other hand is still spot on with Roger Craig performing a more than admirable job as Batman, and Maurice LaMarche really selling Freeze’s broken intellect.
Overall, the DLC was a fun addition, but brought nothing uniquely new to the table other than the XE Suit and one new henchman. Even the origin story for Victor and the DLC is completely based on the “Heart of Ice” storyline, and the writers haven’t done much for him. Pity, considering the writing in Arkham Origins was spot on in regards to the enemies. Also, they could’ve built a better, more memorable boss fight rather than trying to piggy back off Arkham City’s innovations. Basically, buy it but not at the price listed. Wait for the season pass to go on sale, as it will come with the actually challenging, and enjoyable initiation DLC as well.