The long anticipated Batman: Arkham City has been on fanboys dreams since it’s announcement during the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards. Since then, it’s built a tidal wave of high expectations in gamers itching to get their hands on the game as the months counted down to it release last week. With the high expectations of millions, Rocksteady took gamers’ hopeful dreams behind Batman and exceeded them in their sequel to their hit Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Being a fan of Batman and knowing how it reads like a suspenseful detective story, you will not get any tidbit of story from me (sorry, moral code. NO SPOILERS FOR YOU!!!!). What I am willing to say about the story for Arkham City is that it is on par with some of the best Batman stories in the series cannon and non, stories such as Paul Popes’ Batman: Year 100, or cannon stories such as Jim Lee’s Hush, or even the more recent cannon stories where Grant Morrison has Dick Grayson take over the cowl in Waynes mysterious absence. So as far as story goes all I can say is that it will lead you into a dark spiraling twist which will have your head spinning with assumptions on what’s happening in Arkham City.
Batman Arkham City gameplay doesn’t defer that much from Arkham Asylum. Being a direct sequel to Arkham Asylum Rocksteady wanted to do something that is rarely done in sequels and that’s let you keep most of the items you had gotten in the previous game (An Arkham Asylum save is not needed for this, really) not a lot of companies do this for the simple fact that it saves them time, and money (as well as thinking). The thought of “it was fun for the gamer to get the gadgets/upgrades first time around, so let’s make them do it again” is not a thought process seen in Akrham City. Although you are missing two or three gadgets you had at the end of the father of this series, Rocksteady’s goal was for the gamers to essentially develop the tools they’ve been given further from what they were already, along with the Bat’s new toys.
AC plays beautifully, Rocksteady has simply developed their concepts, and gameplay formula in Arkham City even further from Arkham Asylum. Riddler questions and trophies felt like a side quest in Batman AA that accompanied the story, where in Batman AC the objectives surrounding the Dark Knight with solving Riddler’s conundrums feels like a rabid beast of it’s own this time around. Two other additions in gameplay that were further constructed in AC was that of the combat system and detective mode. In the combat system, Rocksteady has made it more free flow with the fighting than the previous Batman title (hard to believe but true) allowing you to move from enemy to enemy attacking them as you see fit. Even though this is the combat system from AA, the addition of attacking and countering multiple opponents at the same time with your fist or gadgets in fluid consistent combos is new to game.
The controls are the same basic lay out as Arkham Asylum with one or two tweaks made here and there. Holding left trigger in combat and hitting one of the four face buttons allows you to insert a free flow combo attack with your regular chain combo, or by simply double tapping the right trigger you can toss a freeze grenade instead of having to select the gadget using the D-Pad. This new style of control works really well for battles or when you need use a gadget quickly and selecting it then using left trigger followed by the right trigger isn’t cutting it.
Detective mode was altered slightly, but enough to make it noticeable. In AA it was used for all sorts of situations; highlighting enemies behind walls, secret passages, doors, and destructibles, the mode was used mostly to hunt down Riddler answers though, as they appeared orange in detective mode making it easier for gamers to find. Well, no luck this time around, there’s a reason the Riddler’s side quest is a monster on it’s own accord, the easy to track down answers are gone. Detective mode still is used for most of the things it was intended for in AA just now it is also a tool to help gamers with forensic tasks when it applies (i.e triangulating where sniper shots came from) and in certain missions as means for finding your way to a destination point. Rocksteady has taken this concept and turned it more into a fine detailed compass for leading you to your next spot, rather than a Riddle solver.
Batman being one of the biggest names in comic book franchise, Rocksteady stopped at nothing to bring gamers and fans top quality material, and this didn’t falter at any point even in the audio. For the sequel they had returning voices Kevin Conroy as Batman, and Mark Hammel as The Joker. Hammel out shines himself in his last run with this well known role he’s done since The Batman 90′s animated series started. This roller coaster ride Mark’s been on has labeled him as setting the standards for the personality and voice behind The Joker. Batman is still filled with top notch voice acting and sound effects that will make you crave to replay the game again, and again, and again.
New game plus, a new mode Rocksteady has introduced, makes replaying more than possible, but when you play new game plus be forewarned it gets harder (i.e enemies will start with shields and guns, also the Bat sense indicator will be disabled). Some other modes include stats, character trophies, and Riddler’s revenge which contains ranked, campaign and custom challenge maps. Another new edition is Catwoman’s side stories, for those fortunate to have the Catwomen DLC already.
Batman: Arkham City is an outstanding game that will leave fans wanting even more. Although the game lacks a multiplayer co-op or competitive, it does have a sort of online community, there is an online ranking system that allows you and your friends to compare times or points scored in the Riddler Revenge challenge maps. The game and character design is beyond anything that fan’s have seen before with Batman. A few minuscule patches need to be made that have been heard about but in the same breathe those people have also contradicted their opinion. These small glitches are little things you may or not notice, i.e knockdowns can be a little awkwardly funny, or climbing extremely awkward areas that you’re not really suppose to can cause your character model to freak for a split second. These glitches are not something that will take away from gameplay enjoyability and are rarely seen, though freezing of the game on loading screens is more common when not installed on the hard drive.
With Batman being such an epic game with an amazing story, it pains me a lot to say that it lacks on side quests. Great appearances, and cameos from some of the most memorable Batman villains were amazing but with this open world, it felt like the superstar villains were lacking in numbers (even though more super villains have appeared in this game than the previous). Batman is a great game that will keep you returning to it for a long time. With the upcoming skins and challenge map DLC packs this game will just keep on coming with the punches.
- It’s Batman in an open world.
- Everything eludes to there being even more Batman story to come, be it DLC or another game.
- Story, charcter, level, and gameplay design go beyond expectations.
- Felt lacking in the Super villains even though who they had was amazing.
- Want to be able to fight all side quest boss, not just one or two.
- No Red Hood?