Justice will be served
When “Batman: Arkham Asylum” debuted in 2009 most gamers expected another mediocre experience like most Batman games. But “Arkham Asylum” swooped in like a Batarang and captured the hearts of gamers everywhere.
The announcement of a sequel, “Batman: Arkham City,” put high hopes in Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. to deliver on the promise of another blockbuster title. “Arkham City” launched on Oct. 18 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 with a PC release slated for November 18.
The game starts out about a year after the first game and “Arkham Asylum” is gone. A portion of the city has been quarantined and has become a prison dubbed “Arkham City.” The opening shows Bruce Wayne holding a press conference to express his concerns with the new prison and that he plans to shut it down. However, the villains of Gotham City, led by Hugo Strange, foil his plans and he finds himself a prisoner.
After a brawl or two, Wayne’s faithful butler, Alfred, sends him the famous bat suit. The Dark Knight takes to the streets on a mission to stop Strange from revealing the Bat’s true identity and to stop the mysterious “Protocol 10.” Two-Face, The Joker, Penguin and Mr. Freeze also play major roles in the game, as well as quite a few surprise characters.
With a little help from the unlikely partner of Catwoman, who is usually a foe of the Bat in black armor, Batman ensues on an adventure like no other.
For those who have played “Arkham Asylum,” most of the gameplay will be familiar. The combat is largely the same, aside from the addition of some new moves and gadgets. Perhaps the best new gadget comes courtesy of Mr. Freeze. The freeze blast is especially helpful with some of the harder enemies in the game, as it allows players to freeze enemies before taking them down.
To navigate the open-world prison city, Batman uses his famous grappling hook as well as his ability to glide. The Riddler trophies are back this time around, as well, and are more challenging to collect.
All of the World’s Greatest Detective’s investigation tools are back, including detective mode, though Rocksteady has thrown in some new elements to make enemies a little wiser to Batman’s tricks. Rocksteady did a great job of keeping the player immersed in the experience, so much so that sometimes it can be difficult to remember it’s just a video game.
“Batman: Arkham City” has an amazing story full of twists and turns, tons of action and surprise villains and allies, some of which are in the main story and others in the side missions. The ending is a huge shocker as well and definitely shouldn’t be easily predicted. The main game lasts approximately eight to 10 hours with additional content adding at least another six to eight hours to the game.
“Batman: Arkham City” isn’t without its flaws though. The map can be confusing and frustrating at times, as it can be unclear where the player is supposed to go next. The GPS system doesn’t help much either.
The graphics are stunning for the most part, and like the first game, Batman’s suit becomes worn out throughout the game. The reversal button used for combat can be unresponsive at times as it must be pressed at precisely the right time and players can expect to die a lot during combat because of failed response from the game when countering enemy attacks.
Enemy bullets sometimes feel unbalanced as well. The gliding can be clunky to control and the artificial intelligence is sometimes too smart, but at other times no smarter than the average fifth grader.
Despite its flaws, the game’s pros far outweigh the cons. It would have been nice to see the game play a little more polished though.
In addition to the main single player game, there is a “new game plus” mode which is the single player game, but with harder enemies and no combat reversal prompts. There are a ton of unlockables, challenges, and Rocksteady has a plethora of DLC which will be available for download in the coming months.
All of this will keep players coming back to “Arkham City” for a long time.
In the end, when the sun sets on Gotham City and Batman finally gets to take a nap after a long night of villain-beating mayhem, “Batman: Arkham City” is certainly one of the best games ever made.
Warner Bros. and Rocksteady have created a formula for success and hopefully for gamers and Batman fans alike, this is a series that continues to deliver justice for a long time.