Batman has what some consider the greatest rogue gallery of any comic book hero. But of all his villains, none have a more tragic origin story then Victor Fries. "Cold, Cold Heart" sets players up to experience the tragic beginning of the man who eventually becomes known as Mr. Freeze.
This story-centric downloadable content for Batman: Arkham Origins takes place just a few days after the main story's ending. Bruce Wayne is hosting a party in Wayne Manor to honor Ferris Boyle, CEO of GothCorp, with a humanitarian award. Before he can accept the award, the party gets crashed by a bunch of thugs carrying cryo guns, with Mr. Freeze following right behind them, demanding that the guests hand over Ferris Boyle. This scene pays great homage to Mr. Freeze's first appearance from Batman: The Animated Series, mimicking almost the entire scene from the show. Though the story primarily focuses on Mr. Freeze, it was nice to see some familiar faces such as the Penguin, who is once again voiced by Nolan North. It's also important to note the story doesn't spoil the events of Origins, but rather jumps around major plot points and the mentioning of other villains that appeared in the core game. I also enjoyed the work that went into Batman's dialogue, as his understanding of Freeze's motivations gradually develops.
The DLC quickly puts you in control of Bruce Wayne as he combats thugs on his way to the Batcave to retrieve his Batsuit. I was looking forward to using the awesome looking EX suit but was disappointed to find out you only acquire it halfway through the add-on. As you unravel the mystery of Mr. Freeze and his motivations, players will once again engage in free-flow, counter-heavy combat and predator stealthing. The add-on introduces a new enemy, though. The cryo-gun-wielding enemies are able to freeze the perch points during predator encounters, leaving them inaccessible. In combat, the same thugs will freeze Batman, leaving him trapped in ice as he tries to break free. They also throw grenades after you've been frozen for a quick one-two.
The add-on allows Batman to explore a small area of Gotham City that was available in the core game, and just like the core game, the add-on allows players to complete side missions which see the return of Anarchy's gangs rioting in the streets while introducing plenty of frozen police officers for Batman to save. After acquiring the EX suit, players who complete these side missions will unlock heat upgrades for the suit, which is also used to survive sub-zero temperature environments to solve unique puzzles.
The attention to detail in the add-on is greatly appreciated. Environments are covered in chunks of ice and Batman's cape and armor form packs of frost from the cold temperature. The much-improved investigations from Origins also make a return, and though I would have expected Mr. Freeze's tragic story to be unveiled in a cutscene, I enjoyed the investigative take on it. Putting the clues together to find out what caused the tragic accident of Victor Fries was executed surprising well.
One of my favorite aspects of Arkham Origins were its boss fights. Though the boss fight with Mr. Freeze wasn't bad, it also wasn't very original. The fight itself was reduced to nothing more than a predator encounter. This may sound familiar to players of Arkham City and the encounter players had with Mr. Freeze in that game, where, utilizing Batman's unique gadgets, players had to weaken and chip away at Freeze's armor. The difference this time is that he's accompanied by gun-wielding thugs. I was also disappointed in the DLC's abrupt ending.
The add-on itself costs $9.99 (free, for season pass holders) and took me about four hours to complete (including all side missions). At the end of the day, this feels meaty enough to justify leaving it out of the core Origins title as a worthwhile side story.
"Cold, Cold Heart" delivers an effective take on the origins of Mr. Freeze. Although the gameplay hasn't changed much, the story is worth the price of admission, and at $9.99, owners of Batman: Arkham Origins should not miss this great addition.
-The Final Word-
"Cold, Cold Heart" spins a compelling yarn on the origins of Mr. Freeze with impressive detail and dialogue. Just don't expect many changes to the series' combat or a satisfying resolution.