The Darkest of all Knights
In 2009, Rocksteady released a little game called Batman: Arkham Asylum. It quickly became one of the most beloved superhero games ever made, and with good reason. Fast forward two some years, and we have a new title in the series, Batman: Arkham City.
Arkham City takes place a year after the events of Arkham Asylum. Arkham Asylum has been deserted, and now all of the criminals have been moved to a secluded section of Gotham City, now called Arkham City. Supervillain Hugo Strange has somehow become the warden of the new "prison". All of the prisoners are running loose inside of Arkham City, raising hell, and since you're Batman, you need to put a stop to them.
The game starts with Bruce Wayne giving a speech on how Arkham City should be shut down. Suddenly, a few helicopters come down, a bunch of guys armed with assault rifles jump out, and they arrest Mr. Wayne. You awaken in a room along with Hugo Strange. Strange reveals that he knows that Bruce's alter ego is Batman, and that he will soon unleash what he calls "Protocol 10". You are then let loose into Arkham City.
After getting into a little scuffle with The Penguin and some of his goons, you climb a nearby building and immediately call up Alfred, your butler and he sends over The Batsuit via the Batwing, and this is when the game really begins.
There are two parts to the gameplay in Batman: Arkham City. The first and foremost part is the fighting. Fighting dudes is what you will probably be doing for most of your time in the game, so it's good that the combat is very, very good. The X button punches, and the Y button counters. You can also mix in a few of your gadgets like batarangs and stun guns. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is, but it's still some of the best combat in any game out there. Stringing together combos is exciting, and after a few successive hits, you are given a special takedown move or stun to use on enemies.
For the first couple of hours you will see many baddies with just their fists and then some with guns, but you then start to encounter bigger and tougher enemies that require tactics to defeat. For example, one new enemy type is one that will carry riot shields. Trying to fight them head on will prove to be stupid, so to take them down, a simple button combo will have to be pressed to stun them, and then jumping onto them, to make them drop their shield. Alongside the new regular enemies (riot shield guys), there are new mini-bosses like one guy that has only one arm and wields a large hammer.
The other part of the gameplay is the Predator stealth gameplay. During indoor sections of the game, there will be big open rooms in which there will be 5-10 baddies with guns patrolling around. During these sections, you will have to sneak around and silently take out said baddies. There are many ways to dispose of your enemies during the Predator sections like choking them out silently, to hanging them upside down from gargoyles, to blowing up walls they are near to knock them out. Arkham City brings back the Detective Vision from Arkham Asylum which lets you see through walls to find enemies, among other things. If you have played through the last game, then this should sound all to familiar, but Arkham City introduces some new gadgets for the enemies, too. These gadgets include night vision goggles which make gargoyles useless, since they will see you while you're up there.
The story to Arkham Asylum is very interesting if you are a fan of Batman. There are a ton of Batman's biggest villains including The Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman, and Bane. The goal in Arkham City is to put a stop to Hugo Strange's "Protocol 10", and stop the Joker from using Titan to infect the rest of Gotham City. There are many twists and turns throughout the game that will surprise you each time. The final scene in the story is fantastic, and I will probably remember it for a long time coming.
Arkham City uses the Unreal Engine, and it makes fantastic use of it. The characters look fantastic and have great detail in them. The facial movements are surprisingly realistic and the voices sync up almost perfectly with the mouths. Arkham City itself is very detailed, and the game runs very smoothly, with the framerate rarely dropping. The most surprising thing is that the game never has bad texture pop-in, which is usually known to be in games using the Unreal Engine.
Sound in Arkham City is also excellent. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill return as Batman and The Joker, and they both still hold the crown as being the best for their roles. The rest of the voice acting is also really good with only a few being just alright (why is there a new actress for Harley Quinn?). The music really sets the dark mood of the game, and the quality is the same as of a big blockbuster movie.
Batman: Arkham City is packed to the brim with content. The main story will take anywhere from 8-12 hours, and once you're done, you can start up the New Game Plus mode, which starts the game over again with all of your gadgets and upgrades, along with tougher and better enemies to face. Apart from the main story is the multitude of side missions to complete in Arkham City which will take another multiple hours to complete. There are also 400 Riddler challenges which include trophies to collect and riddles to solve. There are dozens of challenge rooms to complete in addition to everything in the main game. New copies of the game also come with a small campaign in which you play as Catwoman. I did not have the pleasure of playing this since I rented the game, but from what I hear, it takes a good 1-2 hours to complete.
Batman: Arkham City is easily one of the best games of the year, and probably the best superhero game ever made. With everything that made Arkham Asylum great and more, it's a definite must have for any fan of Batman, or great games in general.