majorbrusselsxi's Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360) review

Its The Bats!

When Batman Arkham Asylum came out a couple of years ago, it’s fair to say, it surprised us all and got great critical acclaim. So, 2 years on, developers Rocksteady had to do something pretty special to follow it up. And that, they have.

Visuals

One of the first things you’ll notice in the sequel is that it has had a huge visual overhaul. Arkham Asylum was by no means terrible to look at, just not the best there was, Arkham City however, is trying to be up there with the best. Batman himself looks as bad-ass as ever, but where the graphics really shine is when your gliding through the air gazing up on the night sky of Gotham. There are still some visual annoyances/bugs. For example, standing Batman close to a wall and trying to look at his face just makes him disappear, it’s only a very minor problem and one that can be looked past. Another problem is when you click the right stick to zoom in, you will notice that textures do take some time to appear, but this is forgiven when you look at the rest of the game on a whole. The lighting is superb, you may be crawling through vents, running in dark corridors, or even in the desert! The lighting is top notch in every aspect here. Speaking of deserts, Arkham City offers much more variety in the environment than Asylum ever did. At first it may appear to be more of the dark (and awesome) same, but once Batman goes crazy once again, you are taken to some astonishing locations that you simply won’t forget.

Audio

If you ever played Arkham Asylum, you’ll know that the voice acting was top draw, here, it’s even better. Mark Hamill returns as the Joker and plays his role as if he really is the Joker. Harley Quinn returns too alongside newbies Mr Freeze and Penguin. There are also some more minor characters such as Calender Man and Zsasz. All of which are voiced superbly. If you’ve come here for epic music however, you may be a bit disappointed. You’ll only really notice the music when it kicks in because there is so little of it. It sometimes appears during fights but mainly in cut-scenes. It could’ve create even more of an atmosphere. And of course, Batman’s fist pack as many punches as ever and hearing them connect with your foes head is something to behold. Phwack! Bam!

Playability

The core gameplay is much the same as it’s predecessor althought Batman does have himself some new gadgets such as smoke bombs, or a gun that turns electrical items which are off, on. If you did play Arkham Asylum though, you should be pretty familiar with the gadgets at your disposal as most of them are the same. The combat is of course, fluent and fast just like it should be, and now your even challenged with more of a variety of enemies. You’ve got enemies with shields which need to be killed from the air, enemies with blades which must be dodged and so on. It sounds overwhelming but the game never makes combat too hard for you, theres always an option, do you counter-attack or do you jump over him. Whenever you get hit, you only have yourself to blame as Rocksteady do a great job of matching skill with tutorials. A bit disappointing on the gameplay front however, is the boss battles. Remember them in Arkham Asylum? Learn the technique and you’ve basically got them, here, you sometimes don’t even need a technique. It’s a bit of a downer as it makes you feel like the boss fights are just the same as any of the other fights.

When your not in combat though, you’ll be gliding across Gotham and unlocking upgrades, which means gliding across Gotham faster. It’s fluent and easy to control. Rocksteady stepped into a bit of un-known territory here by going open world, but they’ve done it well.

You may also have heard that Catwoman is now a playable character providing you have the correct code. It’s great that she’s not just Batman but female. She is a whole new character with her own story and new ways of playing. Enter the code before you start playing, and her levels will intertwine with Batman’s, but the stories don’t really relate to one another. There was one point I was playing as Catwoman and I had a choice of what to do, but I really have to go back and see what the other one does, you’ll understand when you play it. Not only does she have her own (short) story, but also her own moves and gadgets. You will feel instantly at home with the combat as it plays a lot like Batman, only it looks different. She uses whips instead of batarangs, crawls instead of crouching. It can be annoying trying to manouver the city with her because she doesn’t have a grappling hook, just a whip, but then she runs a lot faster than B’man so we’re all square. Her gadgets do take some getting used too and aren’t the easiest to use, it’s a shame because once you’ve started getting the hang of them, her story is over.

Both Batman and Catwoman’s parts of the game are both triple A standard, well, it is a triple A game!

Delivery

And now for delivery. It’s only good news from here on out. Batman Arkham City is probably one of the only games I actually want to continue playing once the credits roll. There is literally so much to do once you have beat the main story, which is about a good 8 hours itself and is always teasing you with tricks and turns, and one helluva climax. But back to the open world, there is so much to do. Now you can tell me that other open world games have lots of side missions too, and yes, they do, but none of them live up to the quality of the story levels. There are ‘only’ 12 side missions here but each will take a long time to beat and will offer much variety in location. It’s also a good idea to do the side missions to meet characters you wouldn’t have otherwise. I did a side mission for Akham Asylums Bane who isn’t in the main story. However, it seems like the side missions are a story of their own, because what Bane did when I comepleted the mission surprised me more than a lot of story missions in games.

But it’s not only side missions, you’ve also got the returning Riddler challanges available for both the Bats and the Cats which ask you to defeat enemies to get a score (combat challenges) or to be sneaky (predator challenges). They aren’t too exciting but still offer the same great gameplay. There are also tons and tons of Riddler trophies, you would need to be God to find all of them without resorting the any guides. If you want achievements/trophies then you shouldn’t mind going through the game again just to get all the trophies because it’s a great journey. And of course, he wouldn’t be the Riddler without Riddles. Enter a room/area and a riddle is normally there for you to solve.

Arkham City is a vast and expansive world with so much to see and do, it makes the story-driven Arkham Asylum look small.

Verdict

Batman Arkham City improves upon it’s predecessor in every single way. It looks better, it sounds better, more characters, more gadgets, more engrossing story etc. That’s the word I would use to describe Arkham City. More. More, more, more. There is so much more to do in this world than in Arkham Asylum, and also most other games. The core gameplay hasn’t changed all that much since Arkham Asylum, but this is not a bad thing. There are still a few minor flaws, but look past these, and you’ve got one hell of an adventure. This is as close as to actually being the Bats (and the Cats) you can get.

So then, not too much has changed in the City since the Asylum, but why fix it if it ain’t broke.

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