Written by Brock Poulsen, brockst4r Sunday, 06 November 2011 05:00
The Nightwing character DLC is available now for Batman: Arkham City for $6.99 on the PSN or 560 Microsoft Points on your XBox 360. It adds hours of potential gameplay to this fantastic game.
This DLC adds two new locations - both in Wayne Manor - in which to test your skills, and features a skin for Nightwing from Batman: the Animated Series as well as the Rocksteady-style uniform. Nightwing can also be used in every challenge that the player unlocks as Batman in the story mode, making it a good value. I personally spent at least twice as much time in the Challenge maps of the first game as I did in the single-player portion. It has the same compelling quality as a Tony Hawk or Skate game; the desire to reach beyond your abilities and perfect a combo routine that not only yields maximum points, but looks impressive and is fun to perform. Nightwing's DLC takes that quest for perfection and adds the enticement of whacking dudes with sticks.
Nightwing's Escrima fighting style is fast and precise, and fits beautifully in the brawling of Arkham City. The strikes are different from what we've experienced with Batman; many of Nightwing's strikes consist of multiple focused strikes for a single button press, rather than Batman's more crushing single blows. It all comes out in the wash, but aesthetically it's a ton of fun to watch. Dick Grayson (appropriately) moves with an Olympic gymnast's grace, and is nearly as quick as Catwoman. At the same time, he hits almost as hard and with as much brutality as Batman, making him a blast to control in combat. Watching him smack heads and break bones with the escrima sticks packs a lot of impressive and sometimes surprising moments into each fight.
The stealth challenges, however, translate differently and require a bit more adjustment than combat does for Nightwing. There's an interesting conversation in the new Batman & Robin comic (which features Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin) wherein Dick Grayson complains that Batman's cape throws off his balance, and that a cape was the first thing he got rid of when he became Nightwing. Despite any balance issues, the cape does allow Batman to do things like the glide kick, or to soar across a level to find a better vantage point from which to eliminate enemies. Nightwing - being capeless - can't glide, but he can leap a frankly outrageous distance, which somewhat makes up for his lack of a cape. Nightwing's particular skillset requires different strategies from Batman's predatory stealth. Nighwing uses more projectiles than his sensei; Nightwing has the ability to throw his escrima sticks, a modified Batarang called a Wing-Ding, and to fire incapacitating darts from his wrist. This allows some very interesting approaches to confrontations. Your various quickfire abilities can be fired off in quick succession to temporarily stun several enemies, giving you the chance to get some quick takedowns or retreat to safer ground. The detective vision for Nightwing is different but still quite effective. The effective distance seems like it's slightly less than Batman's detective vision, but it still serves its purpose.
It appears that there is no voice actor for Nightwing, which - aside from being somewhat of an odd decision - makes for mildly awkward periods between rounds, when Batman or Catwoman would say something menacing or coy (respectively). It's not a big deal by any means, but it would have been really cool to have Neil Patrick Harris reprise the role he played in the animated movie Under the Red Hood to record some witty remarks as Dick Grayson.
Nightwing's DLC is so much more than a simple reskin for Batman's existing gameplay. He adds interesting gameplay mechanics and some great visuals, adding hours of gaming enjoyment. If you're a fan of Arkham City's challenges it is absolutely worth your time and money.