Iggy’s World: Batman Arkham City
The month of Arkham continues with the game that made me purchase a PS3, of course I’m referring to Arkham City. The hype train for this game was insane and for the life of me I can’t remember a sequel that garnered all theattention heading into Arkham’s City initial release. With seemingly impossibly high expectations from fans who have played Arkham Asylum and those who heard how amazing Asylum was and decided to jump right into the fray with the gigantic super prison, Arkham City. Normally I ask if this game lived up to hype, but given that Arkham Knight is right around the corner, that should be your answer.
When it comes to sequels there comes an expectations that it needs to be bigger than the previous installment. Well Rocksteady knew this and delivered on virtually every single front. The story itself involves more characters and plots weave in and weave out almost seamlessly. It does lose the cat and mouse appeal from the first game in favor for a blockbuster action feeling. However while the story did have the epic feeling, I couldn’t help but notice the more obvious video game tropes of “complete task X before moving onto story plot Y.” This was mainly a problem during the middle act of the game as it felt that I was being strung along but unlike the Joker in Asylum this time around it felt more akin to a normal fetch quest or a way to pad out the games length.
A strong opening and a finite conclusion to Mark Hamil’s Joker made this story on another level than what Arkham Asylum was on.
The story wasn’t the only aspect that was beefed up, the combat system was greatly improved from Asylum. Yes the core mechanic of attack and counter are here but now Batman can actually use the tools in his arsenal to chain longer combos. What’s beautiful is that none of this is forced upon the player, the game allows the player to decide how they want to enter any given fight with a random thug. It does go without saying that having Batman utilize his arsenal further emphasizes the idea of being Batman. Interestingly enough though the stealth section pretty much remain in tact.
The areas for stealth sections are more nuanced with a larger pool of enemies to take down, yet nothing is added to how Batman approaches stealth. I can only assume that the developers thought “if it’s not broken why fix it” approach and I actually agree if that’s the case. So instead of improving Batman, Rocksteady made the AI smarter along with new tools to make stealth sections more difficult. Which in turn (even more so on higher difficulties) makes overcoming the challenges even more rewarding.
Boss fights in Arkham City actually brought variety making for some memorable boss battles. The best examples of this being the Mr.Freeze battle as it challenges you to take what you’ve learned from the game up to that point and use that while also hiding from Mr.Freeze. While other boss fights sadly don’t live up to this high standard, they do their job of providing a spectacle fitting The Dark Knight.
Besides the great additions to combat, the icing on the cake was the sheer amount of secrets and winks at Batman’s history that blend so well within the world of Gotham. This reverberates throughout sidequest, and of course the ever exciting Riddler trophy hunts! As a gamer who grew up where secrets in games were the norm it was refreshing to see Rocksteady call back to now a forgotten era.
When I first got my PS3 months previous to Arkham City my attention turned to sandbox games. So when I heard that Arkham City would be more in the same genre I couldn’t wait to see how it looked. My jaw dropped as I wandered the streets of Gotham and admired the amount of detail in every single aspect of the world. With this being the first game inside Gotham City (albeit a closed off section) the winter setting brought that unforgiving atmosphere of Gotham. You can feel the grime and muck as Batman trudges through the rooftops and streets.
Normally I don’t talk about DLC but I will bring up that Catwoman is playable if you purchase her. She’s not mandatory to own but she’s fun to play. She’s a lot lighter on her feet making combat more fast paced and intense, she does have a story campaign but it short and plays no real significance on the larger plot. Purchase Catwoman only if you are interested in playing as her in combat challenges.
Despite the longer main campaign, there are tons of sidequests to tackle during the story or save it for post game. Arkham City is brimming to the top with content, and I can say that even after playing Arkham Origins this is the definitive Batman experience. Well until Arkham Knight comes out in a few weeks. If for some reason you haven’t tried this master piece of a game then what are you waiting for go buy it now.
Batman Arkham City earns a 9/10