It is absolutely no secret to those who know me that I am a HUGE Batman fan.
I voraciously read the Batman comic books, I will watch the live action and animated films repeatedly and collect various Batman related bits and baubles (see the Pop Vinyl figures, drinking glasses and even tie-clip I proudly display).
One of my favorite parts of the Batman series is the extended “Bat-Family”, the fluid group of men and women who put their lives on the line along side the Caped Crusader: from stalwart companions like Robin and Alfred, to on and off and on again allies like Catwoman and the Red Hood. These characters all bring something to the overall Bat-verse and make the stories so much more than a tale about an obsessed rich guy with the destructive hobby of beating up criminals at night.
Among the pantheon of beloved characters aiding the Dark Knight, Batgirl has long been one of my favorites.
Several women have worn this particular cowl, including Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain, but this DLC focuses on the original, Barbara Gordon. My personal favorite run with the Babs under the cowl was Gail Simone’s New 52 run, collected in five volumes and definitely worth reading.
A Matter of Family is set before Arkham Asylum, the DLC (priced at $6.99 or “free” if you shelled out $40 for the season pass), tells the story of Batgirl and Robin (Tim Drake, per the Arkham continuity) infiltrating an abandoned amusement park together to save some GCPD officers and her father Commissioner Jim Gordon from the clutches of The Joker and Harley Quinn, the latter showcasing her classic red and black body suit from her origins in Batman the Animated Series).
Play time came in at just under two hours, which is far better than the 20-30 minutes the various “story pack” DLCs but still in the “$2 for 30 minutes” ballpark they established with the Harley Quinn pack.
Batgirl controls very similarly to Batman but with less gadgets. She has the line-launcher, Bat-grapple, Batarangs, explosive gel and remote hacking device at her disposal and much like the main game there are plenty of opportunities to use the last one.
In combat Batgirl is arguably a combination of Batman and Catwoman. She is a fair bit faster and more agile than the men but can’t take as much damage as a result. There are some tough fights with lots of enemies but limited to regular sized foes. I don’t recall coming across any of the “massive” goons that were all over the main game but there were still plenty of challenging fights with men armed with knives, shields and guns as well as the occasional medic.
As one would expect the combat is both lightening quick and smooth, especially if you are familiar with the rhythm of Arkham games.
One of the more unfortunate things about the DLC is the lack of upgrades or “leveling up” of Batgirl. Given the very short nature of the DLC in comparison to the main game it is understandable why it was left off but it does feel fairly limiting.
My only other complaint is the boss fight, much like what plagued the main game the end fight, Batgirl and Robin facing off against The Joker, Harley Quinn and a bunch of thugs, just didn’t feel special. It felt like a run of the mill encounter just with two tougher than normal thugs. Don’t get me wrong it was still a fun fight, especially double teaming Joker or Quinn but it was also over very fast. This was a problem the main game had and still left me craving the awesome encounters from earlier Arkham games.
Once the story is over the game dumps you back into the amusement park to allow those who care to time to find all the various collectibles and play the available games to uncover the hidden recordings scattered around the area (and collect the achievements that go with them).
While roughly three times the length of the “Story Pack” DLCs, A Matter of Family is still a painfully short look at a beloved Bat-Family member. Much like I said of Red Hood and Harley Quinn I would seriously love a game with an extended look at Batgirl, be it Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown or Cassandra Cain (the last two not a part of the Arkham continuity but would still be awesome). That said A Matter of Family is still worth its price tag and your time.
Don’t miss this one.
Also here is my commentary free play-through of the game for your enjoyment.