Published on November 4th, 2011 | by Deejay Knight, Editor/Founder
Batman: Arkham City Review
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Release Date: Oct. 18, 2011
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3
If you’ve read even ONE of the caped crusader’s comics, you’re already well aware of the depths that Bruce Wayne has gone to rid Gotham City of its criminal underbelly. You might have also taken a glimpse at the ridiculous array of gadgets the Dark Knight has at his disposal. I mean, what rich playboy bachelor doesn’t have his own jet?
The biggest problem that plagued Batman fans since the advent of video games was the fact that he had no good games that they could wrap their hands around and become the Bat. That was, until Rocksteady Studios decided to drop Batman: Arkham Asylum onto the world in 2009.. It quickly shot to the top of the charts and gave fans the chance to play a *good* Batman game. Multiple “Game of the Year” awards later, one of the biggest questions was how Rocksteady were going to follow up the best Batman game to hit consoles?
The answer wasn’t a simple one, but Rocksteady follwed up with Batman: Arkham Asylum. What do I think of it? Read on to see.
Arkham City takes place a year after the events of Arkham Asylum, but all was not quiet in Gotham. Both the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane and the Blackgate prison have been emptied. The asylum’s residents decided they’d had enough and executed a breakout, and the prison fell victim to a mysterious fire that allowed it’s inmates to be set free. Arkham Asylum admin Quincy Sharp decided to take claim for Batman’s defeat of the Joker and was elected mayor. What was his first act as mayor? He announced that both the prison and asylum were no longer fit to house the criminals, then walled off a portion of Gotham, dubbing the area Arkham City.
Fast forward to the start of the game, and Bruce Wayne gets abducted and forced into the walls of Arkham City. Unfortunate for the residents, of course.
The story from there contains as many twists and turns as the comic pages from which Batman was born, as you vie to get to the bottom of why Arkham City *truly* exists and what’s happening behind the closed-off walls. There are surprises from a myriad of the Dark Knight’s cast – friends and foes alike – as you fight your way through the ruined city. Turf wars are nearly a way of life, and many of Batman’s more powerful foes are found pitted against one another in an attempt to slice up the city and claim areas as their own.
The Riddler is along for the ride, as witnessed by the many Riddler challenges scattered throughout, and any Batman story not involving the Joker in some way is lacking, so they made sure not to disappoint there.
By the end of the ride, you’ll be surprised by the sheer amount of love that Rocksteady has obviously given to the source material.
That love doesn’t forget the gadgets, either. There are more Bat-gadgets than you’ll know what to do with. The D-Pad functions as your gadget selector in-game, and there are enough gadgets to require multiple taps of a direction to grab just the right one for the moment. Take for instance, the grappling hook. In the first game, there were dedicated segments to use it and your cape for gliding. This time around, you get an upgrade that allows you to glide around the city without ever touching the ground.
The real meat and potatoes of the game outside the story are the Riddler Challenges you can access from the main menu. You can play as Batman, Catwoman or Robin in the challenges, and there are over 150 challenges in all. That’s enough to keep you busy for awhile, for sure.
Some gamers may be disappointed by the lack of multiplayer, but believe me when I say you won’t miss it. This is one of the rare games that gives you back every cent you spent on it with interest.
The easiest way to explain the controls is that you feel at home. The amount of gadgetry is astounding, and while it may seem daunting, they aren’t all available at once. Every new move you unlock has a tutorial that plays along with it when you’re in the first situation to use it. Is it easy to get lost sometimes due to the vast arsenal of gadgets, combo moves & free flow attacks? Yep, but it’s damn sure a fun ride!
As far as the sound goes, not only does the soundtrack sound like a “Best Of” of Batman movie soundtracks, but the way it plays in 5.1 is ridiculous. In an awesome sense, of course. Every whisper or conversation you track clues you in to which direction you need to be going. When you get into the hectic parts, the music gets into high gear, as it should be.
I could talk for days and days about whether or not Batman: Arkham City is worth your hard-earned money, but I’ll sum it up with this: This is a must-own game. That’s not just aimed at Batman fans or fans of action games, either. If you’ve ever read a comic in your life, enjoy video games or any combo of the two, you owe it to yourself to play this one.
Rocksteady Studios did the impossible again. They made a superhero game that’s absolutely worthy of the title and worthy of your $60.
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+ Fight as the Dark Knight himself
+ More gadgets available
+ Glide around Arkham City without touching the ground
+ Catwoman. Nuff’ said.
+ Fan service and attention to detail
– Large move set may be off-putting to some
– Normal difficulty may be too hard for casual gamers