[Review] Batman: Arkham City

The bat is back again with a successor to the criticallyacclaimed Arkham Asylum. But does Arkham City live up to the hype thatfollowed? Or does it suffer from the same fate that befalls most licensedtitles?

If you’ve played Arkham Asylum, you’re likely oriented with how Arkham City plays. But for those thathaven’t: This is the best Batman simulator yet. Players use the night to their advantage (Because it’s never day. No, no no)and swoop around beating up bad guys. When it comes to the control scheme, Ikept mixing them up while playing because you have an array of gadgets at yourbelt. But if you can get used to them and keep in mind which button does what,you’re good to go. Getting around is easy, despite this game’s map being muchbigger than the last; one can glide and utilize Batman’s grappling hook toensure arriving at missions quickly.

Despite being Batman, who is basically able to kick anyone’s ass, players are encouraged to be stealthy. Being a brute, most of the time I just swooped downwhen someone needed a slap. But eventually the game threw gunned henchmen at methat would kill me faster than I could get to them. So yes, stealth is a bigpart of the game. But fear not stealth despisers, because it cannot get anymore fun than this. One can use a variety of methods to take out the enemies inthis game, always taking advantage of the environment to get the jobdone. Batman can perform takedowns behind enemies to incapacitate them.Double takedowns are possible, too. There are also gargoyle posts convenientlyplaced around to perch on and lurk around like a creeper. When a thug walksunderneath, it only takes one button and he’s hanging upside-down from thegargoyle. Other than that, vents and wall corners provide hiding where you canwait for an unsuspecting convict to pass by. Stick to the shadows and you’llfeel as sneaky as Batman himself.

In terms of combat in the game it works the same as thefirst. Players can attack with their fists, use gadgets during the fight, orcounter the enemy attacks. Incredibly simple but allows for a lot of fun. Theanimations for the counters are fluid and there are a lot of them to see. Youfeel as though you’re a badass kicking the thug’s asses while compounding ahigh combo. Eventually, the routine you may make for yourself during battleswon’t work anymore. Players will get used to only having to punch guys orcounter them, but then the game will throw a curveball and have themremembering specific ways to defeat new types of enemies. It can get a littlecrazy during big group fights (which there are plenty of in this game.)Especially with the more intricate thugs, which have to be stunnedfirst and punched about eighteen times. The actual detective aspects of thegame were minimal this time around. Not necessarily a bad thing, as at times itsimply wouldn’t have gone with the story.
Boss battles are fun, unique, and a great treat for any bigBatman fans. That’s about all I’ll say without saying spoilers. Just know,they’re the best fights in the game.
Besides missions that advance the story, there’s a free roamaspect to the game. One can go around Arkham City doing whatever. This is wherethe game offers treats to players and fans of the Batman series. Easter eggsthat showcase cameos as well as some major back story are scattered throughout thecity for players to find. Side missions are a plenty and have the best cameosyou won’t see coming. The Riddler is back and so are the trophies. This timehowever players will be going through a lot more than just finding them to getto them. They’ll have to trigger switches to open hatches, interrogateRiddler’s henchmen, solve riddles, and save hostages to get all of them. All ofthese extra things ensure a long play through of the game even with the mainstoryline missions not being very long. But if that isn’t enough, there arealso challenge maps separate from the main game. These will have players doingtwo types of challenges: fighting and sneaking. In the fighting mode, Batmanwill have to fight off a horde of thugs and raise his combo to get as high of ascore as possible. Sneaking deals with the stealth aspect of the game and willhave players delivering stealth takedowns as fast as possible to beat a recordevery time.

There’s the RPG aspect of the game where Batman will gain experience every timehe defeats a group of thugs, defeat a boss, or finds a Riddler trophy. Thisexperience can then be allocated into different skills, gadgets, and armor.It’ll take a while to get everything maxed out so this is yet another thingthat adds to the replay value of the game. Not to mention that once playersfinish the main game, there is the option of a NewGame+. This allows a replayof the main story with all the same experience and skills one gets on theirfirst time through.

If you bought the game new or paid the $10 pass, you get to play as Catwoman.Despite it being the same game, Rocksteady did a good job of making Catwoman’sgameplay feel as if you’re playing a new one. Catwoman is faster during combatand has different animations/ ways of sneaking around. Being a fan of badbitches, the counter animations she has are hilarious. She can cling to roofsand uses her whips to get around (as opposed to the grappling hook.) She alsogets experience that players can give to her, similar to Batman. Besides that,there are missions given specifically to her and Riddler trophies only she canget. All in all though, it’s a very forgettable part of the game. Especiallywhen she was advertised as such a big deal to Arkham City yet is only available topeople that get the game new or pay $10. This wouldn’t even be such a big dealif the Riddler trophies only she can get weren’t counted to the total. That isto say, players can’t get all 100% of the trophies without her. On top of thatI found that after getting used to the ease of traveling the map with Batman,Catwoman’s method was difficult to adjust to. She can’t just whip to the top ofa building; she needs to actually climb up by pouncing up the wall. The gamethen presents a pseudo combo system while Catwoman is climbing that reallygives the player nothing and seems out of place every time it comes up.

[Playability Breakdown]

[+Fluid and fun combat] [+Boss battles are challengingand unique] [+Abundance of things to do with free roaming] [+RPG aspect givingnew abilities and skills] [*Controls can be difficult to get down] [*Big fightscan be very difficult when different attacks are necessary to defeat each] [*Detectiveaspect of the game not as common] [-Catwoman’s missions and gameplay not asinteresting]

Arkham Cityis gorgeous. From Batman to the villains to the city itself, the game maintainsa great level of detail. Rocksteady’s own designs for the Batman characters allfit the nitty gritty artstyle of the world they inhabit. The use of lightingwill have players awed and just adds to the atmosphere. Shadows all around asBatman stalks his enemy, you can’t get more in the mood to being asuper-detective than that. Really, this applies to the game’s music as well.It’s perfect for the game and never fails to get you out of “the mood”. When itcomes to Arkham City’sstory, it’s well written and taped together. Without spoiling much, its storyis a fantastic continuation of the first. But that’s not to say that you reallyneed to play the first one in order to enjoy this one. Fans of the series mighthave some gripes, but those will always be had with games like these.
[Production Breakdown]
[+Beautiful graphics] [+Perfect atmosphere] [+Wonderfuluse of lighting] [+Captivating story]
Is it worth 59.99? Yes. It most certainly is. Players havean abundance of things to do and even after finishing the, albeit short-ish, maingame they’ll have some more. It’s a serious competitor for Game of the Year andis definitely the best licensed game ever made. When it comes to the pass thatallows you to play as Catwoman, it was too forgettable to be bought for $10 ifyou didn’t get the game new. That is, unless players want all the Riddlertrophies, in which case they’ll need to get it.
[Value Breakdown]
[+Lots of extras] [+NewGamePlus] [+Game of the Yearmaterial] [-Catwoman’s part in the game is forgettable] [-Short main storyline]


[Reviewer Impression]

As a big fan of Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady didn’t disappointme. They’ve manage to top an already good game with an even better one. So muchto do, so many easter eggs, and with fun gameplay this is a perfect package ofa game. Being someone who doesn’t agree with games’ high prices these days, Istill feel this one is good enough to merit the default price tag that comeswith games nowadays. If you loved the first, you’ll love this one. However forthe players that didn’t like Arkham Asylum, it’ll be very hard to convince youotherwise with this one. There’s a good mix of change, while keeping whatworked the same. At the very least, give it a rent. You need to play this gameand experience it. I seriously felt like the goddamn Batman.

[Final Breakdown]
[+Fluid and fun combat] [+Boss battles are challenging and unique][+Abundance of things to do with free roaming] [+RPG aspect giving newabilities and skills] [+Beautiful graphics] [+Perfect atmosphere] [+Wonderful use oflighting] [+Captivating story][+Lots of extras] [+NewGamePlus] [+Game of the Yearmaterial] [*Controls can be difficult to get down] [*Big fights can be very difficult when different attacks are necessary to defeat each] [*Detective aspect of the game not as common] [-Catwoman’s missions and gameplay not as interesting] [-Catwoman’s part in the game is forgettable] [-Short main storyline]

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