Holy S@#! Batman Why Are You So Awesome!
Well Gothamites here is my review of the unprecedented sequel to Rocksteady’s sleeper hit Arkham Asylum. Batman games in general have gone through phases of being sub-par to just downright atrocious. Yes I have endured many terrible Batman games in my time, but with all the pain comes much glory in Batman: Arkham City. Folks this is the real deal and I feel that this game will certainly be a top contender for game of the year.
Arkham City is just that, it is a full scaled city that stretches out on the scale of a GTA landscape. The city is dark, gritty, and full of mayhem. Crime is everywhere and run by all of Gotham’s heinous criminals ranging from the Penguin, Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, Dr. Hugo Strange, and many more. There is absolutely no sense of law and order in this town and you feel as if this going to be too much of a daunting task for the Dark Knight to handle.
The story opens with Bruce Wayne trying to hold a press conference in Arkham City with the intention of closing the whole city down due to its chaotic criminal state. He is then ambushed by city police only to be taken into the thick of Arkham City as a prisoner. This was such an eye opening experience and it puts you right into the character’s perspective. You feel like you are being incarcerated and all of the Arkham City thugs are just licking their chops at the chance to take out Bruce Wayne. Rocksteady does such an excellent job of creating a sense of hostility and incarceration in the opening moments. The player just feels like there is no way out of this situation.
When you begin the opening scene it serves as a brief tutorial to refresh the player on how the combat mechanics work in the game. You still have your standard attacks, reversal moves, gliding attacks, etc. While the first game was very smooth in regards to combat, Arkham City drastically improved the mechanics which give the player a fluidity that flows like butter. Not just with the combat but also with the character’s movements. There have not been very many games produced where you feel that you at “one” with the controls. From climbing up the buildings, to grappling with your grappling hook, everything fits perfectly giving you such a nice transition of movement. Never did I feel that the controls ever hindered my intended movements or attacks.
While the mechanics of the games still remain the same (If it ain’t broke don’t fix it…), many upgrades have been given to the Dark Knight particularly in the arsenal. From beating up baddies, uncovering The Riddler’s secrets, etc. still earn you Experience Points towards upgrading your Bat repertoire. And boy do you get a slew of new gadget upgrades this time around. From using smoke pellets to escape close-range gunfire, to accessing your Bat hacking computer, there are a ton of things at your disposal. The nice thing is that these items are not just thrown in for looks. By offering quick-fire attacks you are given more options for getting the Bat out of a tight bind. You literally need to know you gear to tackle certain situations. Leveling up your WayneTech is a very key element to the gameplay.
If you thought there wasn’t enough to do in Arkham Asylum, you will be pleased to know that there is a great abundance of things to do in Arkham City. You will often find hidden Riddler puzzles to solve, Arkham City citizens that need your aid, or challenges to bone up your Batsuit skills through Waynetech VR missions. The world is so vast you almost feel that the caped-crusader will need some help along the way. It becomes so chaotic that you will see your Batsuit deteriorate after various fights and boss battles. It is highly detailed and stays this way throughout the game. This makes the player feel like they have been working their ass off to restore order in Arkham City. You will have the opportunity to play through the story as the Catwoman by purchasing the update or if you pre-ordered, it comes as a free download. The Joker challenge maps are back in full swing as well as some new “surprise” challenges.
I think the biggest overall improvement to Arkham City is the sheer scope and immersion. Games nowadays focus too much on making things look pretty or cool that they forget the one aspect that keeps the players engaged. Hands down you will feel like Batman throughout the whole game. The flow is never interrupted and you just feel a complete sense of transition from mission to mission. And as a player you want to get to the next piece of the puzzle. Another thing that will completely suck you in is the superb dialogue. You have Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their trademark voices of Batman and The Joker. It is still fresh and absolutely amazing. Every character in this game comes to life through the voice characterizations and I think this is one of the most memorable gaming experiences that I’ve had in such a long time. Rocksteady seriously needs to keep making games with intellectual properties.
Batman Arkham City is definitely a grandiose and thrilling experience. Whether you are a comic geek, Batman Nerd (raises hand….), or action game junkie, this is one amazing game to own. Do not rent this game, buy it! Rock Steady has definitely raised the bar really high for superhero/comic book based games. One of the most applauding things about Arkham City is how the developers used the source material. This was a better experience than Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight. I loved the originality that they brought in their vision of Gotham City and Hollywood seriously needs to take some notes. The Penguin is phenomenal! There is nothing short of high praise for this game and I hope all you Gothamites out there give this game a go round’. It will certainly NOT disappoint.
Get your Bat-capes swinging because this game will have my vote for game of the year.