Batman: Arkham City Review
The world’s greatest detective returns to video game format once again in Batman: Arkham City and just like before, it stands head and shoulders above all other licensed games that are forced out on an annual basis. Arkham City is the follow up to the very inventive and well made Batman: Arkham Asylum, which was surprisingly on a lot of people’s Game of the Year contender’s lists. Batman: Arkham City is right up that same alley and in many ways much better then its predecessor.
The story starts off in high gear with not only Arkham City already created and running, but many people wanting it taken away. At the start of the game, not much is told on how this was even possible to begin with. Somehow it was allowed to block off and wall up a chunk of Gotham City to throw criminals into, leaving them to fight and survive on their own. Much like the movie Escape From New York (see it). Not only that, but they put some of the most dangerous criminals in there like of course The Joker, Two-Face and The Penguin. All of which have their part to play in the main story, but to top it off Arkham City is ran by Hugo Strange. It is slowly revealed how this came to pass throughout the game. Like in Arkham Asylum, there will be other super villains making cameo appearances through the hand full of side missions that will become available while sneaking around the city. Some you will find almost shoved down your throat, like when you first start and see what seems like hundreds of question marks all throughout the city, making it quite obvious to the player that they have something to do with Riddler challenges.
Arkham City is an open world for you to explore, but the main story is just as linear as it was in the previous game. You never have a few primary objectives to take care of in any order you wish. Instead you are given one task at a time and go from place to place fulfilling these tasks. Very much like in Arkham Asylum, just on a grander scale and way better looking cut scenes breaking up the action and game play. You can get through the main story in about ten hours or so and maybe a few more with the side missions, though some can be time consuming. Some side missions are completely worthless and not worth the time and effort to complete. Like most of the VR style training missions, making you literally jump through hoops. Getting around the city is made pretty easy with gliding and the grappling hook. Almost every place you look, you will find an icon letting you know you can zip line to that location.
The combat in Arkham City is very similar to that of Arkham Asylum with a few tweaks here and there to tighten it up and making it somewhat better. For instance, you can now pullout your different gadgets and use them in a quick fire way to mix in with your fighting combos. You can also counter incoming attacks from multiple enemies much smoother by repeatedly tapping the button. Although this makes the fighting better, it does at times make the game feel like a button masher, more than in the previous game. In some situation you will find yourself in a middle of a room with around twenty baddies circling you, getting ready to tare you apart. This can start to feel like the game is doing nothing more than offering up challenge room fights in the middle or of the game. Making the game play at times annoying and somewhat boring. However you do find yourself in situations plenty of times with gargoyles and such at the top of rooms, allowing for taking out a good number of baddies silently and sneaky. However toward the end of the game’s main story you can get pulled out of the game when you sneak up on a criminal and take him out and Hugo Strange or whomever gets on the speaker system telling all the others that one of them has been knocked out. It seems as if someone is watching your every move, even while hiding. Might as well get on the speaking and tell them exactly which gargoyle you are hiding on and when and where you move.
In Arkham City you also get to play as Catwoman in four pretty short “chapters” of the game, which can only be done by entering the code if you bought the game new or buying the online pass if buying the game used. I know, it is a little shady being that the Catwoman missions are not online and do intertwine with the main Batman story. Either way you look at it; this was Warner Brothers way to join the fight to slow down used game sales. The Catwoman missions don’t add too much to the main story, mostly just giving players a break from Batman, which is odd seeing you are most likely playing this game to play as Batman. Everything with Catwoman works basically the same as with Batman. She has different weapons, different fighting style and different moves, but all end with bad guys getting knocked out, being able to see though to different rooms through walls and getting around the city somewhat similar to Batman.
For those who liked Batman: Arkham Asylum you will most likely love Batman: Arkham City. Rocksteady broke the mold for licensed Batman games with Arkham Asylum and they have expanded on that very well with Arkham City. The environment is darker, the villains are more menacing and the story has more depth. All in all this game is absolutely amazing with only a few hang ups. The voice acting is amazing as well, with most of the same crew coming back once again in this sequel. Arkham City is simply top notch and like the previous game, will be a major contender for Game of the Year for many people.
Final Score: 4.5/5