Game Review: Batman Arkham City
Release: October 18, 2011
Genre: Third Person Action
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC (Nov. 15th)
ESRB Rating: Teen
Website: Batman Arkham City
Wake up Dark Knight fans: Batman Arkham City, the highly anticipated sequel to Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum, is finally here! You will be happy to note that much of what made Asylum so great has remained unchanged, while our Wayne Tech grapple gun and gliding cape has finally been released from the confines of the Joker’s fun house and given free reign over a large portion of Gotham City’s dark rooftops. Aside from being a beautifully written love note for any Batman fanboy, this title is a must have for any fan of third person or superhero games. Reviewers and early adopters have been singing their praises about this game since its release this past Tuesday, but why? What is it about this game, in contrast with the other hot titles that will be flying off the shelves this holiday season (Dark Souls, Skyrim, Battlefield 3, etc), that makes it truly worth your time and money?
As you might have already guessed, due to your awesome powers of deduction, Batman: Arkham City has you take on the role of Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, as he glides and grapples his way over the dark streets of Gotham in a struggle against an impressive lineup of super villains and criminal masterminds. Through a complex weave of shady politics and fear, former Arkham Asylum psychiatrist Hugo Strange has managed to transport all of Arkham’s former patients, along with Gotham Prison’s inmates, into one giant walled off section of Gotham, known as Arkham City. Not only is Hugo in complete control of this new prison district, he also discovered Batman’s true identity, and has managed to drag the Dark Knight into his domain. However, as you make your way through the first hours of the game, you soon discover that Hugo is merely the tip of the iceberg, as Batman’s old (and bitter) enemies start piling in by the truck load.
Gameplay in Arkham City hasn’t changed significantly from the first game, but that isn’t really a bad thing. The free flow combat system which seems simple at first, becomes more and more in-depth as you unlock new gadgets and combos, or increase the difficulty. Plus, the new double take downs can be a lot of fun to pull off. One of the most significant changes you are likely to notice is in the environments. Not only is there a much greater variety to the city streets and buildings you will be exploring, but having such a huge area available to you really helps to encapsulate that feeling of being Batman. Grappling across Arkham Asylum’s courtyard area was all good fun, but it can’t compare to gliding over the seemingly endless span of gloomy rooftops of Gotham City. There are still plenty of sections of the game where you will be indoors, but the freedom of movement you have while out in the city not only feels incredibly liberating, it also puts a smile on your face.
You will still be using detective mode to hunt down clues and find your objectives (you ARE the world’s greatest detective after all…), but it all feels less tedious and awkward than it was in the first game. There are also several sections of the game that have you take on the role of Selina Kyle (Catwoman) for a short while, which is actually a ton of fun and helps to break up the monotony of the game’s lengthy campaign mode. Her play style is similar to Batman’s, but it also has a unique and refreshing feeling of its own. I felt like Rocksteady did a great job with her animations, and was happy to see she wasn’t just a carbon copy of Batman with a whip (and ta-tas).
The greatest thing about this game is its immersive quality to truly make you feel like Batman; with everything from the aesthetics to the core gameplay, you just feel like you are the dark hero you have seen in the movies and read about in the comics. As you stealthily take down a room full of machine gun wielding thugs from the shadows, or glide down from a roof top and then grapple gun toward your next objective at high speeds, you just think: “that’s Batman!” The game’s story is also something truly wonderful to behold, and without spoiling anything I will just say that if you are a Batman fan, you need to see the ending.
My only real complaints with the game are with the somewhat repetitive nature of some of the gameplay elements, such as boss fight strategies and side missions. Most boss fights came down to dodging left and right, and then spamming the same gadget attack over and over. Although the Mr. Freeze fight thankfully broke this pattern, I have come to expect more from boss fights these days. I really had an all-out blast with the overall game, and perhaps it was because I played it in long sittings, but there were times when I just found myself thinking, “ugh, this again…” But to be fair, I find myself feeling that way with a majority of games after extended play sessions. I just could have stood to see a little more variety in certain sections.
This truly is the ultimate Batman experience, and it would be a shame for any of you to miss out on it. There is a ton of content that has been packed into this game to keep you busy for weeks. Aside from the campaign mode, there is also a fair amount of DLC packs on the way, a ‘game plus’ mode that lets you replay the campaign on a high difficulty along with your upgraded equipment from your first play through, plus a ton of Riddler trophies and challenges. Not to mention, free reign over a huge section of Gotham City, access to a plethora of Wayne Tech gadgets, terrific story and voice acting, and the chance to finally become your favorite pointy eared Dark Knight. Pick it up!
+ Makes you feel like Batman
+ Great gameplay, fun gadgets
+ Awesome story and voice acting
– Can be repetitive in some parts
Final Score: 9/10