Batman: Arkham City Review

Posted: October 25, 2011 by Tony Polanco in REVIEWS

Back in the summer of 2009 something that no one thought possible occurred; a great triple A comic book super hero game was released. This game was Batman: Arkham Asylum. While Batman has had many video games based on him, none of them ever captured what it would feel like to be The Bat. Rocksteady studios not only created the first trully amazing comic book super hero game but also set the standard for all others who would make games in this genre.

The expectations were set extremely high for the inevitable sequel to Arkham Asylum but I can tell you right now that Batman: Arkham City flat out exceeds what gamers expected. Arkham City goes beyond being a great licence video game and is set to win many “Game of the year” awards in 2011. Rocksteady studios has created yet another classic.

Batman: Arkham City picks up 18 months after the events of Arkham Asylum. The Mayor of Gotham city decides that it would be a good idea to throw every criminal and super villain of Gotham onto a nearby island and let them run wild. The premise seems pretty ludicrous to be honest but it’s a good excuse for Batman to have to face pretty much every one of his major villains.

Arkham Asylum did a fantastic job of presenting a dark, sinister, oppressive world and Arkham City is no different. The city feels very menacing and unwelcoming with its twisted art deco architecture, litter filler streets and color palette that’s definitely Satan approved. Despite the deliberately ominous design of the city, it looks gorgeous. The city isn’t a very nice place but you’ll want to explore every nook and cranny to see what deranged things may be lurking in each alleyway or rooftop.

While exploring the city you’ll inevitably have to get down and dirty with its citizens and this is where Arkham City’s smooth combat comes into play. The mechanics of pummeling fools hasn’t changed much since the last game and this is a good thing. It’s very easy to string together long combos that involve everything from melee attacks to using your gadgets. Even in a room full of countless thugs you will have the means to not only take every one out but do so in style. Needless to say that busting heads and making goons eat pavement is incredibly satisfying. Batman is a master of the martial arts but when the occasion calls for it he can also be a master of stealth and can use the shadows and ceilings to get the drop on enemies. It’s always fun to silently dispatch a room full of foes just to hear the last man standing completely lose his mind.

A wonderfully realized atmospheric city wouldn’t mean much if it didn’t have memorable characters populating it. If you can name a major Batman villain then chances are that they are in this game. Every one of the voice actors does a superb job in making the characters come to life, from the lowliest thug to the baddest of bad super villians. With that said, the performances of Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker) steal the show. Both actors have played these roles for nearly 20 years but they take their performances to darker places in this game, especially Kevin Conroy. The Batman in Arkham City is a more ferocious and surly one and it was great seeing Batman almost step over the line without actually doing so. There isn’t really much to say about Mark Hamill’s Joker other than it’s THE definitive version of the character. The way that Mark balances the humorous and psychotic nature of the Joker is pure genius.

Batman: Arkham City has a more or less open world structure to it and as such there are a few quests scattered throughout that will keep you engaged if you are not doing any main missions. Each side mission not only help give the city a sense of being alive but also involve Batman facing down members of his rogues gallery. This is supposed to be a city where pretty much every Gotham baddie is kept so it would make sense that Batman would be diverted from his main objective by other super villains. There aren’t a lot of side missions to complete but they are nonetheless very enjoyable to play.

If you’ve seen the various trailers for this game then you’ll know that the master of side missions in Arkham City is none other than The Riddler. Edward Nigma has placed hundreds of his “Riddler trophies” all throughout the city and when Batman collects a set amount he has to go rescue people from whatever nefarious and dastardly trap that The Riddler has placed them in. Collecting all 400 Riddler trophies is a bit of a hassle but are worth it if you want to see all of the clever traps that Riddler has created for Batman to solve. Some of the traps are extremely tricky so you’ll need to think like the world’s greatest detective in order to solve them.

Besides Riddler stuff to collect, there are other things to keep you playing this title for a good long while. The combat and stealth challenges from the previous game make a return and should really test your prowess if you want to get gold in all of them. If you get tired of the challenges provided then you can create your own via the challenge editor. For achievement/trophy hunters out there, these challenges will be your only real obstacle in getting 100%. The rest of the trophies/achievements are relatively simple to unlock but the challenges will be tough, especially the campaign challenges.

Arkham City is another phenomenal Batman game from Rocksteady studios. Its a title that not only exemplifies how to make a great comic book super hero game that makes you feel like you are the title character, but how to make one that is as good or better than any other game out there. Batman’s world is one that is both mesmerizing and terrifying and Arkham City captures this duality perfectly. It isn’t an overstatement to say that Batman: Arkham City is an instant classic that will be talked about for many years to come.

Liked

  • Varied gameplay
  • Great acting
  • Batman’s rogues gallery

Disliked

  • Too many Riddler trophies to collect

Batman: Arkham City was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive. It was released for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 and is available now for $59.99. A new retail copy was played for this review.

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