Finally catching up on two pieces of DLC I want to talk about: AC4’s “Freedom Cry” and Arkham Origins’ “Cold, Cold, Heart”.
Firstly, Freedom Cry:
Now also available as a stand-alone release, “Freedom Cry” features AC4 protagonist Edward Kenway’s quartermaster, friend and actual assassin Adéwalé getting caught in a storm and ending up in Haiti. Finding the area filled to the brim with black slaves, Adé sets out to rescue as many as he can and undermine the slavers in the area, with assistance from the “Maroon” resistance. The story itself is quite short (it’s reminiscent of a less bombastic “Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon”), the map is a decent size and nicely varied (One main town area, some jungle and a whole lot of ocean to sail), and the gameplay is largely the same, save for one main difference. That one main difference? A major part of the game is freeing slaves. Some slaves are working. Some are being auctioned. Some are working on a plantation, or being transported on a ship. Doesn’t matter where they are, they need saving. Essentially this is Catcher Freeman: The Game. Or, if you’d prefer: Pirate Django Unchained.
Freeing slaves is immensely satisfying and for me, is worth the price alone. It got to the point where I wasn’t getting missions done because new slaves kept popping up for me to free by murdering slave traders with a machete. They serve a gameplay benefit too- rewards are given for certain amount of freed slaves, leading up to free ammunition and better weapons. Speaking of weapons, Adé takes a different path- a huge machete for melee and a blunderbuss in place of pistols- it takes longer to reload, but has a wide spread and is powerful. Having said that, combat doesn’t feel different to AC4- it’s the same old “Parry and counter kill” routine, but then why would you expect something different in this situation?
Any negatives? Well, it has the same main problem as every other game in the series- the stealth is terrible. Fortunately there isn’t a whole lot of it, but it’s still really frustrating, particularly considering AC4’s penchant for tailing missions makes a comeback. The story also isn’t up to much, and the whole thing feels a bit insubstantial.
Worth a look? Well, it depends how much you want to murder slavers and free slaves. The map is a decent size, the core gameplay of sailing and murdering holds up well, and the new angle of an ex-slave freeing slaves is a great one. I say check it out.
Cold, Cold Heart:
Similarly, “Cold, Cold Heart” offers the same gameplay as its core game but with some interesting new tweaks and situations. The set-up will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s seen the Batman TAS episode “Heart of Ice” (If you haven’t, go watch it- it’s fantastic): Bruce Wayne is developing a business relationship with humanitarian Ferris Boyle, hitherto unseen villain Mr Freeze makes an attempt at Boyle’s life, and Batman sets out to stop him, along the way uncovering Mr Freeze’s tragic back story and his past with Boyle. Now “Arkham Origins” also borrowed from a major Batman story for its Joker origin story, but I feel it works better here. While playing through the DLC I realised that I do like Mr Freeze, but for me his limit is this very story: he’s a good villain while he’s attempting to (SPOILERS FOR THE DLC) find a cure for his terminally ill, frozen wife and get revenge for her continued predicament (END OF SPOILERS), but once this story has come to a conclusion he stops being interesting. Fortunately the story is translated to the Arkhamverse rather well, and is very fitting of the main game’s origin-story tone. It doesn’t hold any surprises for those who’ve seen “Heart of Ice”, but it’s still worth re-visiting, and for those coming to it fresh it’s definitely worth a look.
On the gameplay side, you’ve seen it before. The best and main new addition is the “XE” (Extreme enviroments) suit (pictured above); a hulking, “Court of Owls”-esque batsuit that protects Bruce from extreme cold and allows him to generate heat through his gloves. This is a very cool new addition, but that’s it. The game also opens with a playable Bruce Wayne section a la “Arkham City”, and it’s handled well. These two things make the DLC worth a look in my opinion, but if you’re looking for something new and fresh for “Arkham Origins”, you won’t find it here- this is more of the same with an interesting new situation and a badass new suit.
By James Lambert