RETRO – The shadow of the giant batwings have now descended onto Arkham City, a district within Gotham created especially for the criminal elements of the city. Rocksteady is letting the players loose after the previous games’ claustrophobic nature of the Asylum. An entire city where Batman is forced to clash with his old enemies, and some of those old friends have been only mentioned in the previous game. The questions is up in the air, how can the stakes be raised higher for this topnotch series? Well read on to find out!
It is unbelievable what the development team of Rocksteady was able to accomplish. It seems they have a perfect understanding of the Batman universe. It is near fanboy levels of knowledge with regards to Bob Kane’s creation, and this shows within the game.
When I flew over the city with the Batman, it became apparent that none of the mediums have given me this sensation, such lifelikeness as if the pages of the comic books have come to life! Just like in the previous game everything is in its place: the city district is grimm, grotesque and really provides that true Dark Knight feeling. The super villains are more lifelike than ever, so let’s see look at them for a bit, and get to know those a little bit better that make Batman’s life a bit annoying.
Batman of course cannot escape his eternal enemy the manically laughing Joker, who is voiced by Mark Hamill. “Mister J” ( as Harley likes to call his love, who also makes an appearance in Arkham City) is suffering from terminal illness: After taking the Titan serum he is dying due to the side-effects, but he will make sure that Batman will save him. As to how well I do not want to spoil that part, you’ll know when you play the game.
Then there is Harvey Dent aka Two Face, whose acid burned face is even more terrifying than in the Dark Knight movie. Especially since he has no moral quandaries about making certain decision that are lethal for the judged. There is no rose without a thorn, as there is no Batman game without Poison Ivy.
The sexy lady who loves plants and is an ecoterrorist clashes with Catwoman in Arkham City Ah yes Catwoman, the alterego of Selina Kyle seems to have nine lives. Which we will be able to experience by using the retail code from the box, and Catwoman will become an unlocked character with a separate campaign in Arkham City. A new villain here is the Penguin, who is not a cute and cuddly animal, but a vicious little sly man with an Irish accent.
An interesting part of the game is that he is also hated by other gangs in the city just as much as Batman. So they also fight against him for the city. As we glide through the air, or scour the top of the houses we can hear their men, or their enemies constantly talk about him, and the latest gossip regarding his activities.
Arkham’s cells just got bigger
When the developers told us in an interview, how large, deeper, and immense Arkham City will be compared to Arkham Asylum. While the gameplay was linear in the previous game, here the sandbox aspect here is perfected to a point where it raises the bar for many other games. It is luckily not a knock off of Grand Theft Auto, or Spiderman 2-3, as the story is much more structured, and the sidequests are integrated into the main storyline.
One side-quest for instance is that, we will have to blow up Titan barrels, which are also in the main mission locations. This way the entire quest line is streamlined and there is no need to run to the opposite part of the map for completion. Arkham City looks and feels like a living, breathing city, though not many actual civilians are there, but we’ll be able to meet the main villains, and their gangs on the street. While Hugo Strange’s speech blares from the megaphones, the criminals that inhabit this city of new found freedom are not really happy. Since the food distribution was not a priority for Arkham City.
We don’t watch this with pink, but with red and green glasses
Last year’s Batman GOTY had a 3D glasses attached, as this edition allowed us to enjoy Batman’s adventures in Arkham Asylum in 3D. Luckily here we do not have to wait for the GOTY edition, as Arkham City (at least in the PS3 version) supports this option, and it is especially great with Sony’s 3D TV. The 3D here is way better than in Arkham Asylum and there are not many errors, and works splendidly. There are no yellowish blurry contours, everything is crystal clear, and needle point sharp. Best of all that Arkham City looks magnificent even without this option, and it is hard to believe that this is still Unreal Tournament 3.
Whether it is the city streets, or the inside of a building, the developers really give us the feeling as if the levels are from the old Dark Knight comics. The neo-gothic style, and the grimm furnitures, paintings, and cold factories. The cherry on the topping is that the districts within Arkham City change based on which villain’s territory we are in. Joker’s territory is full of the crazy and sickening clown motif, while Penguin’s museum has elements of ocean life within the building.
Femme Fatales and gruesome faces
Besides the environments, the characters’ designs are also first class. There are a lot of disgusting and macho characters, but before we delve into them, let’s talk about the ladies first, especially Catwoman. Who is probably the most detailed, and sexiest character, who looks stunning from the front and.. from the behind. The previous game’s Harley Quinn (who loves Mr J for some obscure reason, even he is crazy) also received a bit of a touch up, and Poison Ivy also became sexier.
Let’s talk about the monsters now: Joker’s features are really well detailed, and has become even more repulsive than ever. The Penguin with his Scottish accent, and small stature is miles better than the Danny de Vito version from the 1992 Batman Returns movie. Batman’s armor is reminiscent of the comic books, and just as in the previous game, it becomes dirtier, broken, bloody as time progresses. The Dark Knight was never the careful type that is for sure.
Beyond the graphics and the environments, the animation is also unbelievably well made. Batman’s acrobatic, and elegant movement as if it was from a Christopher Nolan movie. Every punch, defense, roll, air glide is a pleasure to watch. Also the fights are now more complex compared to the previous game.
Although in the beginning we’ll still use the usual combos, but we’ll soon feel and see how rich the new movements are in terms of variety of punches, kicks, counters, and blocks.
When there are more than one enemy on the screen, then both of them can be slammed to the ground. Some of the more complex combos are actually done automatically by Batman, the others will have to be learned.
The list of attack moves that can be initiated from mid-air have also been expanded: For example the dive move allows us to knockout enemies instantly, and with another type of move we can stun them. Combat regardless of its complexity is still easy to control, and here it really matters how quick and skilled we are, and not if we memorized a fifteen button long combo. Some of the combos are annoying to start, but this combat system is still the friendliest on the market( If you don’t believe it try Ninja Gaiden)
Bob Kane would dig it
Arkham Asylum had the best super hero game title, but the sequel overflew the bar that was set by the previous game. Arkham City is a better, bigger, deeper game, with better controls, combat, and a larger map. It is worth to play this at least twice if you are nostalgic for a bit of a Batman after the 2012 Dark Knight movie.
+ Top notch story, with many characters
+ Arkham City is huge
+ Better fighting system
– The path following part…
– Sub-terrain leves are a bit too long.
– The very ending is a bit underdeveloped
Publisher: Warner Bros
Genres: adventure, action, open world
Batman: Arkham City
Gameplay - 9.8
Graphics (2011) - 10
Story - 8.8
Music/audio - 9.1
Ambience - 9.6
Arkham Asylum had the best super hero game title, but the sequel overflew the bar that was set by the previous game. Arkham City is a better, bigger, deeper game, with better controls, combat, and a larger map.
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