Published By: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Developed By: Rocksteady Studios, Genre: Action, Release Date: October 19, 2011, Rating: Teen, Systems: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U.
Preentation – There will be *SPOILERS* throughout. I remember a time when new comicbook video games would release and soon after get laughed at by reviewers. Batman video games were often times the laughing stock of the industry. But how have times changed in just over the last couple of years. With the 2009 release of Batman: Arkham Asylum respect was established with Rocksteady and they’re Batman franchise. Many gamers were hyped about its sequel Arkham City and for good reason. Its my opinion that Batman: Arkham City is the greatest Batman video game ever created to date. There isn’t another Batman game that makes you feel more like Batman and drops you in such a deeply compelling atmosphere.
My original fear was that too many big name villians and anti-heroes were put in Arkham City. That would be put to rest after playing Batman: Arkham City for a few hours. However I still believe a few villains could have been better served in DLC or even in their own standalone game. In Arkham City the story was designed around a few villains that mainly consisted of the Joker, Dr. Hugo Strange and Ra Al Ghul from the League of Assassins. Rocksteady did a marvelous job at pacing the story and all its villians making the game’s story appear natural in structure. Not once did i feel any villian in the entire game have too little or too much screen time. Balance is the keyword here and Arkham City had oodles of it.
The semi-sandbox world of Arkham City was impressive. Whats even more impressive is how freely and seamless you can navigate the quarantined sections of Arkham City. You can use gadgets such as Batman’s normal grappling hook to swing from building to building. You can use the new gadget called the Line Launcher that shoots a long straight line cable in front and behind Batman to travel far distances in a straightline. The most effective way to travel throughout the beautiful open world of Arkham City is by flying. Using a technique call Divebombing lets you gain altitude making flying great distances fun and effective.
When you purchase a new copy of Batman: Arkham City you get a redeem code for the Catwoman Bundle Pack. The bundle pack lets you play all of Catwoman’s missions seamlessly within Arkham City’s first playthrough. If you bought the game used you would first have to play the story mode to unlock each chapter of Catwoman’s quests. Its better to buy the game new in my opinion since the first scene of Batman: Arkham City is a Catwoman sequence against Two-Face. Rocksteady did a good with implementing Catwoman from a gameplay and story standpoint.
Catwoman navigates the city like a pouncing cat using her whip to traverse long distances. She is quick but not strong like Batman. She has her own upgrades and combos. You do fight with her the same way using one button to attack and another to counter. She is equipt with her own unique gadgets and Thief vision to spot enemies through walls. She can climb on ceilings upside down and pick pocket enemies. Most of Catwoman’s missions aren’t long and rarely have anything to do with Batman’s goal of stopping Dr. Strange’s Protocol 10. Catwoman does deal with Poison Ivey and Two-Face on some occasion. Her time is mostly dealing with infiltrating and breaking into vaults.
Boss fights in Batman: Arkham City were plentiful and entertaining for the most part. The only weak boss-fight was the final one unfortunately. An epic game needed a better final boss-fight. The final ending did make up for the lackluster final boss-fight. The boss-fights started off spectacularly with the immortal Solomon Grundy with Penguin. If you ever played God of War 3 when Kratos fought Hades the Solomon Grundy boss-fight was equally epic. Mr. Freeze was a unique yet great boss-fight in that there was over ten different ways to injure him. Hiding in vents, sneaking above or below him to get close. You can shoot electrical breakers with Batman’s Remote Electrical Charge to fry his suit. When you use a technique to injure Freeze he literally freezes the object or environment making you unable to use the technique again.
When searching for a cure that Joker injects Batman with early in the game you go through Demon Trials via The League of Assassins. Here Batman fights in the Lazerous Pit against Ra Al Ghul. The boss fight wasn’t as good as Freeze’s or Solomon Grundy’s but rewards you with the Sandstorm achievement/trophy. The atmosphere is spot on. I felt as if i was playing in a comicbook as the Cape-Crusader. The City is littered with Side Missions such as Bane’s Fragile Alliance side-quest where you destroy Titan Containers around Arkham City. After rescuing Viki Vale from a crash helicopter site i saw The Riddler in the distance. I then met the Mysterious Watcher and received his missions as well. Riddler trophies are back and scattered all over the place to collect.
Figuring out puzzles will usually net you the trophy. Victor Zsasz side Missions Cold Call Killer has Batman answering phone calls throughout the city streets in hopes to prevent Zasaz from murdering random civilians. Shot in the Dark side-mission has you tracking down a sniper assassin. A.R Training missions let you hone your skills through completing various training missions. Arkham Assault side missions has Batman randomly encountering muggings you must stop. The Side Missions ware all worthy of being called very good to great and could easily get you side tracked from the main story campaign. Turning on Detective Mode is also an easy to get side tracked often times seeing a side mission from a distance you “must” complete.
Story – Batman: Arkham City’s story centers around the events after Arkham Asylam. A big portion of Arkham City has been quarantined off and now criminal factions run wild. The Joker, Two-Face and Penguin are fighting to take control of Arkham City. Batman is right in the middle of it all as you would expect. There are mini-plots like Batman getting sick from The Joker injecting poison into him. At which time Batman must run around the city finding Mr. Freeze and saving him. Tracking down the Joker on occasion was also on my to do list. The main plot has to do with Dr. Strange and Protocal 10. By the powers vested from Ra Al Ghul Strange was able to take control of Arkham City’s prison outbreak situation.
Protocol 10 is simply a mass murdering order for all inhabitants of the quarantined zone. Helicopters shot missiles at targets throughout the city when it was activated near the end of the game. In the end Batman with my help took out Dr. Strange on top of the Wonder Tower. Dr. Strange’s last gig was blowing up the tower in which Batman makes a escape and killing Ra Al Ghul in the process (accident). The guy is immortal he will just refresh in the Lazerous Pit. After you take out Dr. Strange you take out the Joker who has Talia (Ghul’s daughter) captured. Joker who was suppose to be sick then got well was actually never well. Joker needed the cure Batman had Freeze make.
Joker tricks Batman and shoots Talia in the back. After Batman beats the final boss Clayface, Joker dies in front of Batman. Batman carries Joker out of the Steel Mill in front of Joker’s gang and the GCPD. Is Joker really dead? During the credits you hear Joker singing and talking some. Also after you beat the game you play as Catwoman and i overheard thugs in Arkham City saying Joker tricked Batman and that he really isn’t dead. I can see a third Batman title in our future. The story was great for a comicbook videogame. It was delivered really well considering all of the villians that the game had. It had ups and downs and kept me engaged throughout.
Visuals – The Unreal Engine 3 managed to squeeze out a barely better looking game than Arkham Asylum. However there were many texture pop-in issues and plastic faces during cutscenes that makes Batman: Arkham City look just above average. I do love the game’s artstyle make no mistake. Arkham City looked great and was littered with detail such as neon billboards, alleys and many buildings like the Museum, GCPD building was nicely designed inside and out. The Wonder Tower, Steel Mill and Wonder City featured nice art and design work as well. The graphics were best showcased with Solomon Grundy, Clayface and Mr. Freeze.
Sound – Its no secret on the internet that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil did fabulous jobs depicting Batman and Joker. Practically all of the voice actors did a wonderful job including Mr.Freeze, Penguin and Harley Quinn. The music was flat out great. The menu music made me stop and listen before each play period. The orchestra tunes during boss-fights were engaging. The overall sound design was top-notch. Helicopters and listening to thugs while perched on a roof all added to Arkham City’s awesome winter-like presentation.
Gameplay – All videogames should have engaging combat like Batman: Arkham City. Pressing one button to attack and another to counter is simplistic but very satifying and rewarding after taking out a group of 15 or 20 thugs. Enemies do get tougher as the game progresses some have shields and electric batons. Enemies with guns are throughout the campaign and dealing with them through stealth is prefered. However i used the Batclaw slam technique. Using the Batclaw Batman can grab the guns out of badguy’s hands. The Disrupter is one of the many new gadgets in Batman’s arsenal. This thing has the abilty to remotely disable one enemy’s gun. Its fun running up to him when he just figures out his gun is broken.
I also used the Disrupter on the Tyger Helicopters during Protocol 10. The beauty of the satisfying combat is when Batman seamlessly uses various gadgets while using his fists. Waynetech is back and many new effective abilities and gadgets are available as you level up with XP. The upgrades are broken down into categories for Batsuit, Gadgets, Combat, Predator (stealth) and Catwoman. Upgrades are unlocked automatically but some do require you to spend upgrade points to unlock. Spending points early on Batman’s Ballistic and Combat Armor helped me. I also purchased the Shockwave attack which i used throughout the campaign. Every gadget and upgrade are useful. There are many and do suit your style of play making a great gameplay experience.
Replayability – The stellar single player campaign will last you over ten hours. Upon completing the game you can access New Game+ with all of your gadgets and abilities intact. Don’t worry your not overpowered as the enemies are now more stronger and don’t show a counter icon when they attack. Riddler’s Revenge features various Challenge Modes that you can tackle with Batman or Catwoman in combat situations. Choose a Challenge Map on either Campaign, Ranked or Custom. Custom Challenges lets you add a multitude of various modifiers like Gadget Malfunction, One Hand Tied, Replenishing health and Super Powered.
I unlocked a few maps during my playthrough such as Hell’s Gate and Funhouse Brawl. Riddler’s Revenge is a great way to hone your combat skills. You face waves of thugs. The higher the wave the more thugs, points and multipliers you will achieve. The maps were all decent and i liked the wisecracks Batman says before and after waves. There are other great content such as Character Trophies you can unlock made for 3D viewing. Concept Art you can unlock as well. The Character Bios were really good also. Completing all of the great Side Missions and collecting every Riddler Trophy will take you a long time finish
Final Verdict – Its the best Batman video game that i ever played and i now see why many publications and websites gave it GOTY. Buy it you won’t be dissapointed.