David Kane, ‘15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
“Cold, Cold Heart” is the new, story-driven downloadable content pack for Batman: Arkham Origins that chronicles Batman’s first encounter with Mr. Freeze. When players first saw the fan-favorite villain, it was in a thrilling and unique boss battle in Rocksteady Studios’ Arkham City; this time he takes the central antagonistic role, as we witness his Arkhamverse origin.
The plot begins a week after the events of Origins, during a humanitarian gala in Wayne Manor honoring Gohcorp president, Ferris Boyle. Gun-toting goons led by Mr. Freeze in a bulky prototype mech-suit crash the party and kidnap Boyle, kicking off the action. The gameplay starts with Bruce fighting off thugs as he makes his way to the Batcave to retrieve his suit.The stark change of location injects the game with some originality that ends quickly when the Batsuit is put on and familiar gameplay returns.
The beginning, with a suit-wearing Bruce Wayne fighting thugs hand-to-hand, evokes the opening of Arkham City, continuing WB Games’ tradition of recreating events from Rocksteady’s much more polished games. Batman follows Freeze and company across a limited section of Gotham City and into the new interior level of Gothcorp where the plot (and the ice) thickens.
The most prominent addition to the game is the cryo-technology that influences plot and gameplay throughout. On top of Freeze’s cryo-cannon constantly creating obstacles to break through, new armored enemies with ice-guns of their own provide a fresh element in combat scenarios. Players must evade the rays that rake across the field, capable of trapping both Batman and other goons in ice. The repeated appearances of this particular threat keep players on their toes, adding a satisfying challenge. Hanging icicles can be knocked down onto enemies in stealth scenarios, and freeing frozen victims becomes a lengthy side mission.
One cool (yeah I said it) feature shows up when Batman enters a room that Freeze has booby-trapped, the screen frosts up at the sides, obscuring the player’s vision and making predator missions more difficult. These unique environmental elements stay in keeping with the story’s strong focus on Mr. Freeze, even when he’s not present, and make him one of Batman’s more interesting and threatening rogues.
The other notable addition is the Extreme Environments (XE) Suit that Batman dons about a third into the story. Other than looking completely awesome, it does little more than add thermal power to the batarangs and shock gloves. The thermal gloves can melt ice obstacles for plot purposes but have the same effect in combat as the shock gloves, robbing their practical novelty.
Near the end, Batman goes to the scene of Mr. Freeze’s origin and uses clues to reconstruct the tragic events of his transformation. This familiar close-up has no noticeable tweaks to the origin taken from Batman: TAS, which most fans will appreciate, but those hoping for any new twists will be disappointed. The inevitable boss battle with Freeze at the end is sufficiently challenging, clearly taking inspiration from its Arkham City counterpart, but the addition of thugs to the fight seems an easy way to amp it up when Freeze should be enough. The thermal gloves and falling icicles add new attacks that need to be repeated to beat him. He’s tough, but doesn’t require a wide variety of attacks to take down.
In “Cold, Cold Heart,” the interesting new spins on the otherwise identical combat and stealth gameplay makes the DLC stand out among the Arkham series. Featuring a compelling part of the Batman mythos, the story will satisfy fans and keep gamers excited for the next (and final) iteration in the series coming out next year.