Arkham City is a place everyone should go to.
As someone who saw Batman Arkham Asylum as one of the greatest games of all time, and also as someone who absolutely loves everything Batman, it was hard not to have hype to the heavens for Arkham City, it’s also a little hard not to be a bit bias on just exactly this game that I am reviewing. But none the less, Arkham City delivers in every way that matters and delivers on what it sets out to do. It’s a thrill ride of an adventure with so many twists and turns you won’t know what to do with yourself. It’s a polished experience and for me personally, it also gets the achievement of Game of the Year.
It’s been six months since Arkham Asylum and they relocated all the criminals to a walled off section of Gotham city, thinking that It would be a good idea to keep them there. Ran by the mysterious Hugo Strange who’s seemingly been off the radar for months he shows up running the whole show and he manages to throw Bruce Wayne behind the walls of Arkham City. It’s easy to see where it goes next, Bruce Wayne dawns the cowl and finds out the mystery behind why Strange is running said city, with Joker seemingly on death row and a whole other massive cast of characters including Two Face, Riddler, Penguin and more. At least this is what the story seems to be. Arkham City takes numerous and impactful twists and turns throughout the entire adventure, and come the end you’ll have yourself questioning every single thing you did. I can’t speak too much on the story beats, let’s just say that something quite unexpected happens in the end, and by the time all was said and done, I was really quite sad at what had transpired.
The gameplay is where they tightened up and expanded upon probably the most. They made the game more or less open world, but instead of making you able to drive around Gotham they messed around with Batman’s cape. You for better or worse can fly to your leisure, and it feels incredible. The feeling you get while gliding around the dark and dreary buildings of Arkham City is some you just can’t get in any other videogame. It’s been two years since the first Arkham and there hasn’t really been anything that played or felt like that game. But I’m glad that that game is back. The combat has also been tweaked and improved upon, in being able to tackle multiple enemies at once. It makes your combos never ending if you do it properly because you’re not just focused on one person at a time anymore. Finally the riddles are back and they probably steal the show once again since they show you just all the neat Easter eggs Rocksteady managed to put into this game. From Harley Quinn being pregnant to finding if Scarecrow really did make it to Arkham City, there’s hundreds. I’m not going to go into much detail on the dozens of side missions since they have a lot of surprises for the player who goes through them all. As for the stealth sections, it’s mainly remained unchanged, With the exception of some new gadgets or different ways to take down an enemy. All in all they’ve tweaked and refined the best parts of Arkham Asylum while fitting in new and interesting toys and scenarios to play in. The flight mechanic may just be a quick way of traveling but its fun and engaging since there’s always something new to see, and the indoor sections are just as great and inventive as ever.
Then there’s the presentation of the game. The game is a looker, no doubt. The vistas are unmatched and the little details they cram into the environments are a really nice and well done touch. But that’s not what makes the presentation so memorable. No, it’s Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill that steal the show once again as Batman and the Joker. The years they’ve voiced those characters shows in this game, the history those two have, the friendship they must have formed comes through in their performances as their characters. How Batman and the Joker are so different yet so similar in so many ways is only something you can get with years upon years of history, just as these two voice actors have together. You get a sense of just how much time has passed and just what these guys have gone through. The twisted friendship of Batman and the Joker portrayed through this game is something that’ll stick with me for a long time.
Batman Arkham City is a spectacular sequel that does everything a sequel is supposed to do, and oddly enough, if there was never another Arkham game again, I would be okay with that. Calling this game the definitive Batman game is selling this game short, it’s a wonderfully well crafted experience from top to bottom and you can tell these guys truly get these characters. It’s something that’ll stick with me for a long time to come.