Batman: Arkham City Review
Arkham Asylum was a spectacular game. It was focused, involved, character driven, and all around top notch from beginning to end. For a Batman fan, it was nirvana. The idea of a sequel to something like that is intimidating enough on its own. An open world sequel? Well... that's even worse. There were so many ways that this game could've gone wrong. The fact that it's gone so right shows that Rocksteady's comfortable at the helm and ready to make this franchise move.
Like its predecessor, the game's based around a linear storyline. You're Batman and Hugo Strange has, improbably, walled off sections of Gotham to serve as a makeshift asylum. The game is very obviously centered around the No Man's Land storyline from a few years ago, and it probably should have just gone with that. The idea that Sharpe, the ineffectual warden from Asylum, was able to become mayor is enough of a stretch. The idea that he was able to convince Gotham to simply give away a large portion of their city to the gangs on a silver platter is a bit far. That being said, this unlikely turn of evens allows for the gliding, climbing, jumping action that's to follow, so let's all ignore the fact that it's ridiculous.
As Batman, you do all the aforementioned gliding, climbing, jumping, as well as a lot of punching, stalking, and terrifying, and it's all as good as you remember. The side missions go beyond the typical "do this, do that, do this again, then do this one more time" of games like Infamous and involve their own drawn out plot elements, dealing with the sort of B list villains that send the fanbase into a tizzy. The plot itself is straight out of Paul Dini's comics. That's a good thing. It's a fun and classic Batman adventure: the characters are charismatic and the writing is brisk and enjoyable.
Here's the thing. Arkham City's good. It's exactly as good as you expected it to be: no more and no less. There are few surprises, but the whole thing's just so damn well made that you can't fault it for not fixing what ain't broke.