Developed by the team who created Batman: Arkham Origins, Warner Bros. Montreal, A Matter of Family allows players, for the first time in the Arkham universe, to take the role of Batgirl in an expansion set prior to the events of Arkham Asylum.
All you're shown is that you are Batgirl and you’re teamed up with Robin (Tim Drake) to take down the Joker alongside Harley Quinn. Commissioner Gordon and a number GCPD officers have been captured and will be killed if Batman shows up, so it is down to you and Robin to take Joker down and save them. And that’s it. That is all you get in terms of story. No additional story, no flashbacks and very little interaction between Batgirl and Robin - apart from the tag-teaming in combat.
In classic Joker style the story takes place in an abandoned amusement park which just happens to be on top of an oil rig. Seagate Amusement Park is dark and foreboding and suits the story well. It was very reminiscent of the run-down amusement park in The Killing Joke - The same graphic novel that shows Barabara being crippled by the Joker. Featured in the amusement park are the key areas where Joker’s goons are keeping the GCPD officers hostage - you’ve got the ferris wheel, merry-go-round and the haunted ghost ship. In the same way as Batman you have to use either your combat skills or predator skills to take down the goons and save the hostages.
The gameplay mechanics stay pretty much the same as Arkham Knight, which isn’t a bad thing at all, although you’ll feel little difference in playing as Batgirl. She does have some nice new added animations to suit her combat style and it is enough to make her unique and not just a copy of Batman. Predator mode on the other hand has some more variety, as Batgirl is the hacker of the family you’ll be able to use this to your advantage. She doesn’t have the Fear ability Batman has, instead she has the ability to use the environment to scare groups of enemies or turn off the lights to get some easy takedowns by using her trusty hacking tool.
Warner Bros. Montreal has created a great environment to play as Batgirl in, but it is just not very big. It feels tight and compact and doesn’t have freedom to glide or grapple around in, still it is large enough to convey the length of the story which happens to last around an hour.
Which is disappointing, but putting the length aside, the real disappointment is the execution. A Matter of Family could of been so much more. They had the opportunity to bring Batgirl to life and delve deeper into her history as Batgirl before it was torn away by the Joker, instead they gave us a small set piece in the Arkham universe with her playable as the gimmick. And while it did have its moments; Hamill's Joker which is great as ever and it was nice seeing Harley Quinn in her original animated costume, but by the end the whole thing feels like an after thought. Apart from some collectables (Joker Teeth, Jack in the boxes and balloons) there is nothing much else after, no AR missions, no upgrades, no replayability and with it being part of the £32.99 season pass it doesn’t bode well for the future content.
One can only hope that Warner Bros. steps up its game to justify the price of the season pass. Fortunately for Arkham Knight owners who just want the content separately you can pick up A Matter of Family for £5.79 on PSN or Xbox Store, which is a lot more reasonable. The PC version on the other hand, is currently unavailable and won’t be arriving until the PC version is actually fixed.
Batman: Arkham Knight Family Matters (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
A Matter of Family could of been so much more. They had the opportunity to bring Batgirl to life and delve deeper into her history as Batgirl before it was torn away by the Joker, instead they gave us a small set piece in the Arkham universe with her playable as the gimmick.