For those expecting an epic take on Bruce Wayne's spiritual and physical journey into becoming the Dark Knight, you're being a little optimistic. However if you're a sucker for the gorgeous backgrounds or a perfectionist when it comes to the challenge maps, then this DLC is sure to satisfy your appetite.
First and foremost this isn't a story DLC; Initiation, or 'Rite Of Passage', is a campaign of five gruelling combat and predator maps, in which the player has to mainly rely on their basic striking and countering abilities to get by. To my surprise, Bruce Wayne counts as an entirely different playable character within the challenge maps, and actually plays quite differently to his vigilante counterpart. Gone is the high tech gear and threatening costume - instead players can use smoke, caltrops, and shurikens as part of their arsenal to take down enemies, though most fulfil the same function as your standard gadgets. There did seem to be however a couple of new animations for Bruce, making you feel like you're actually performing skilled martial arts rather than brutally punching a thug in the face - though whether I was just seeing things I'm not sure.
The maps themselves are beautifully designed and laid out, and it's nice to see some new thug designs for the ninjas; heck, the fact they included Korean dialogue alone is pretty impressive. The new costumes we get are also sweet, especially the Vigilante. Sadly though, this is where the good things end.
The battles include wave upon wave of enemies, but it never felt like a challenge to me. The only variation of thug types are Ninjas and sword wielders, which I don't find that hard to defeat. If you're not so good at keeping up a combo or large groups of thugs, you'd probably find this campaign difficult, but I expect for most this isn't the case. Predator rooms are also pretty basic, with the medals being easily achievable in under sixty seconds. There's also a sporadic cameo from Lady Shiva which felt highly forced; although of course it isn't a story campaign, I'd still have at least liked a bit of dialogue from her.
If you're really into Batman's history though, chances are you won't mind too much about the difficulty. The attention to detail is fantastic, and you can tell Warner Bros. Montreal put a lot of effort into making this an authentic eastern inspired experience. Even the tiny details such as naming each challenge map after a ninjitsu art form really makes this DLC unique. The ending also differs slightly depending on how many medals you get, which is another pretty neat addition.
Overall, Initiation is far from the intense campaign we were hoping for, but builds upon the foundations of Batman Begins to create a fresh experience for the player. Let's just hope the same can be said of the imminent Story DLC - Mr. Freeze anyone?
Adapted from my blog here.