Arkham City is a grander scale adventure for Batman
Its still pretty weird thinking back to the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum that the game turned out so well. Think of the challenges it faced, developer Rocksteady took on the Batman license with only one game under the belt Urban Chaos: Riot Response.It was a super hero game which are hardly known for quality and it was based on a licensed property, when have those been good?Yet it came out and was fantastic. Two years later Rocksteady is back in the Batmobile with the sequel Batman: Arkham City.
Arkham City is a super prison set within a walled off portion of Gotham City.After the events of Arkham Asylum the city government moved to close both the asylum and Blackgate Penitentiary and in their place created the City. Under the control of the mysterious warden Hugo Strange, prisoners are left to fend for themselves with little help from the warden. This has turned the prison into a variation of the Batman storyline No Mans Land with major super villains like Penguin,Joker and Two Face creating gangs using them to fight for control.
If you played Arkham Asylum you will be right at home with the controls and combat. Instead of reinventing the wheel Rocksteady has refined everything. The most notable changes are the time allowed to pull off a counter and Detective mode.Now with Detective mode you lose certain HUD elements like location indicators,In Asylum there wasn't much reason to turn off Detective mode but now other than a quickly seeing enemy positions and if they are armed I used Detective mode less and less which is a plus since Arkham City looks beautiful. Batman still leaps around the game quickly knocking out thugs and snapping limbs. Also returning from the Asylum are the gadgets, dodging the Metroidvania trope of depowering the protagonist at the start of every game. Throughout the adventure you will pick up new gadgets like a electric gun or ice grenades.All of these gadgets are easily used in combat with quick variations preformed with some combination of R1+ face button most of the time.
A city is obviously bigger than a asylum giving Batman far more room to hunt thugs and Riddler challenges. Arkham City is roughly 5x the size of Asylum but Batman is able to move from one side of the city to the other via improved gliding and quick transitions with the grapple gun to glide. Batman becomes a lot like Spider-Man in this way.
Rockstead manages to imbue some real life into Arkham City with the ability to eavesdrop on both inmates and guards talking about the events in the game and multiple side missions. Is Arkham City as great as Rome from Assassins Creed ? No but compared to other major world Hubs it is brimming with life.
The main story will have you gliding from place to place but what will make you look deep inside the city is the wide array of side missions. From helping Bane destroy TITAN to hunting Deadshot and Hush if you want to complete these missions you are going to have to go deep within Arkham City. The Riddler also plays a prominat role leaving 400 challenges for you to beat, mostly collecting his trophies. Collecting these trophies will unlock concept art and challenge maps for you to play as Batman,Catwoman,Robin and Nightwing, if you purchase the requisite DLC.
Arkham City isn’t just about the Batman though Catwoman gets her own four chapter story set during the events of the game. To access this though you will have to buy the game new or from Gamestop to get the code if you buy it used you will have to pay 10 dollars or 800 Microsoft Points. I wish there was more to do as Catwoman. With only four chapters and 3 being of any real length her story isn’t that interesting. She just turns into a faster less equipped sexual Batman in the end. She has only 3 gadgets all equivalent to one Batman has and a weaker less useful version of Detective Mode known as Thief Vision. Outside of collecting Riddler specific trophies and getting her achievements there is no reason to play as her.A weaker version of Batman is compounded by the fact they both share the same experience line forcing you to choose between upgrading Batmans armor or Catwomans. In the end of my play through Catwoman had one upgrade in her armor and nothing else. If Rocksteady were to release a expansion pack with more Catwoman story missions that would be fantastic as she fits into the Arkham world extremely well.
Challenge rooms are back named Riddlers Revenge are deeper and larger than the simple beatdown and predator ones found in Arkham Asylum. You can go for the high score and fight for spots on the leaderboards but other than achievement/trophy rewards don’t offer much to extend the play time of the game.
The real replay value comes in the form of a New Game+ mode offering a more difficult version of the game but you get to keep all the gadgets and upgrades acquired. Some of the changes in difficulty include harder enemy types right off the back and different enemy configurations. The major difference is no more counter indicators making combat far more difficult.
Rocksteady made a great Batman game with Arkham Asylum.With Arkham City they went bigger and badder and have told a great Batman story.The beginning and the end are impactful while the middle portion can slow down with the ability to do the various side missions causing you to just get sidetracked.
Batman: Arkham City isn’t a revolution in Batman or the third person action genre it builds and expands on the foundation laid in Arkham Asylum. People who never played Asylum will be able to pick up the story and gameplay with out much difficulty but veterans will be right at home. If you want more Batman get this game if your in the market for one of the best games of the year get this game.