Batman is back, but this time things will be the same... I mean d
Do you like punching people in the face? How about wearing a costume? If you answer yes to either of these questions, then Batman: Arkham City might be for you. The game Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum and this time around things have changed slightly. For starters the environment is now a semi-open world, open area but most buildings are inaccessible, with numerous side missions and Riddler objectives. Interactions with hostile NPCs this time is more combat focus as oppose to the stealth focus. There are also a lot of random audio conversations that the player will hear while traveling about, to the point of annoyance. Overall the game is almost to the same level of quality as it predecessor, which is a good since the last game was awesome. But the best thing it has going for it, is something that it had no control over, which is a lack of direct competition.
The world of Arkham City is a collection of dark alleyways, numerous buildings that can't be entered, and countless talkative thugs. It isn't a big world, in fact the player is able to get from one end of the map to the other in about 3 minutes. However, even though the world feels small, there is a lot to it. With side missions, breakable objects, Riddler objectives, and patrolling enemies, there is a lot for the player to do beside the main story missions. To the point where it feels like there might be too much. For example, there are about 400 Riddler objectives throughout the map. They are everywhere to the point where you can't go 20 feet and not run into 3 separate ones. It is nice to have choices, but when those choices are overwhelming than they dilute the experience. Another area that there seem to be too much are the audio conversations that the patrolling thugs have that you cannot skip, while these do makes the world seem more alive, these conversations just happen too often. The thugs are always yapping about Batman's actions or something, to the point where I found myself attacking groups of them, just to shut them up. The gaming's world isn't exclusively for Batman to explore either, since there is some Catwoman content in this game. However, unless you buy this game new, you'll have to pay extra for it, which I did not, so I don't know about it. The environment for Arkham City is neither an open world or a directed experience, and it is this vagueness that can derail a person experience with the title if they treat the game as something it isn't.
The story for the game is one of its strongest and weakest features. The main story in the game has batman thrust into the events in Arkham city where things quickly go from bad to worst. He soon finds himself in a race against time to solve the mystery of Hugo Strange while trying to stay alive in a very hostile environment. There are also several side stories that get played out during the game, but these mainly happen during the optional side missions. These side stories are great, but are also locked behind main story progression, which means that you won't be able to complete or advance them until you reach a certain part of the main story. The ending of the game is rather anti-climax since the last boss seems to come out of nowhere, which makes the fight feel pointless. They build up a big conflict between several main characters, but most of those characters don't play a part in the ending. Despite the considerable length of the game story, it doesn't feel like it goes far enough to explain things since most of the information for the game is locked behind optional objectives which rewards the player with tiny tidbits of text in side menus. If you new to the Batman lore, or don't read the optional hidden text, then you are likely going to be confused by what happens in the story, and even if you are familiar with Batman and read the extra text, you'll since find things to be excitingly vague.
If it ain't broken, don't fix it, this seem like the motto they were trying to follow for the combat mechanics in Arkham City. Arkham City follows the basic design that was implemented in Arkham Asylum. There are normal attacks, stuns, counters, combos, gadgets, and stealth actions. You are able to switch targets on the fly by pushing on the left analog stick, and executing most of the moves is as easy as pushing a single button with the game responding correctly. The only significant change between the titles isn't a mechanic but what the focus of the game is. Where Arkham Asylum was a mix between stealth and direct combat, Arkham City feels more like a fighting game with a few stealth moments thrown in. This is mainly due to the open world environment they try to generate, but also because their settings don't seem design around stealth actions as much as Arkham Asylum's was. I found this to be disappointing since the stealth parts are usually great. I know it speak more of my character than the game's, but I rather enjoy taking out thugs one by one while they freak out since they don't know what going on. Regardless, Arkham City has one of the best combat control mechanics in video games today.
Overall if you liked Arkham Asylum or want to be Batman, then you'll like this game a lot. There are not any significant changes from the last game in the series, but what it does change doesn't always work out for the best. Even if this game wasn't a Batman game I would still consider it to be good, however, it is and it uses the Batman lore to great effect. Lucky for this series no one else has been able to copy their formula since their last game, and it is this lack of direct competition that helps them out a lot since it allowed them to keep things about the same without it being too much of a negative.