Arkham Knight's Batgirl: A Matter Of Family DLC is painfully short

Batgirl? Playable for the first time in the Arkham franchise? I'm there. Where do I sign? Under the line that says £32.99($40) for the Batman Arkham Knight season pass or £5.79($6.99) as standalone DLC? Done. As the internet is so prone to saying, take my money. However, like Batgirl herself, this story doesn't have a happy ending.

Batgirl's Matter Of Family DLC is the first drop of story content in the promised six months of extra bits for Arkham Knight and I can't hide that I was ridiculously keen. All the signs were promising. The fact that it was outsourced with Rocksteady's engine to Arkham Origins developer Warner Brothers Montreal surely meant that we were talking a sizeable chunk of playtime. Add in the reassuring heft of the main game and I was sure that this wouldn't just be a half an hour side quest, that Batgirl's prequel would be the one we both need and deserve.

Well I was correct about one thing at least. It's not a half hour side quest. It's a forty minute one. I hate being right. This journey to Seagate Amusement Park is painfully, eye-wateringly short. Teaming up with Robin, Batgirl is on a mission to save her father - that's Commissioner Gordon to you - from the Joker but, despite some interesting environments to explore, it's just all over far too soon.

An enormous flaming ferris wheel spins psychotically in the sky, goons lurk inside an enormous metal shark, Harley and the Joker taunt from crackling speakers, an aquarium of fake sea monsters awaits but the content between them is a miniature Batman by numbers. Hacking by spinning analogue sticks, grappling between vantage points and beating up goons. None of these is bad on its own - and Batgirl's combat is enjoyably crunchy and fun - but condense it into five miniature sequences in an environment that promised so much and we've got problems, Batman.

While kicking a wise cracking goon in the face with someone a quarter of the size of the Dark Knight is of course happy making, Babs doesn't really have anything new. The previously touted 'unique hacking mechanic' is just Batman's remote hacking device and she uses his line launcher, batarangs and smoke pellets with ease. Add in Robin as a lurking sidekick with some not-awkward-at-all romance 'bants' and suddenly the first adventures of Oracle-to-be are distinctly average when there could be so much more.

There's nothing bad here. I monologued, took pictures, cackled at environmental takedowns but it's what's not here that hurts. This could have been an amusement park brimming with grim delights. There's balloons left to pop and some teeth left to hit with a batarang or two but the potential left untapped feels horribly wasteful.

But the question is should you play? It's not broken or bad. It would be easier if it was. While I'd really rather see a proper character development for Babs, the story is entertaining in a Saturday morning kids TV kind of way. Plus, you get to see Harley in her traditional red and black suit. But it's fifty minutes at a push. £5.79 for under an hour is a penny per minute ratio that you just don't want to calculate. This isn't that tightly scripted indie game to be played in one sitting that you buy on Steam. It's Batman and, frankly, there needs to be more.

This also raises important questions about future Arkham Knight content. The game is currently one of the most enjoyable, richest open worlds to date, can the future DLC - from Rocksteady from now on - be truly worth that £33 season pass? You can buy the game itself for that on Amazon. I'm as excited as the next girl about cruising Gotham in that Michael Keaton Batmobile come August but miniature story drops and skins like this one won't make it worth that initial investment. This shouldn't be the way the Batman dies. Not now.

Louise Blain

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in gaming, technology, and entertainment. She is the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s monthly Sound of Gaming show and has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland. She can also be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, Netflix UK's YouTube Channel, and on The Evolution of Horror podcast. As well as her work on GamesRadar, Louise writes for NME, T3, and TechRadar. When she’s not working, you can probably find her watching horror movies or playing an Assassin’s Creed game and getting distracted by Photo Mode.