Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Release Date: 11/22/2011
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Arkham City is the successor to the critically acclaimed Arkham Asylum, which is considered the best super hero video game ever made. That’s a true fact because it made you feel like you were Batman both in character and in the atmosphere. Arkham City captures this atmosphere but adds a ton of new features to make this game even better.
The story continues off from the last game where Joker is infected with the Titan virus but also infects Batman. He is rushing to get a cure, but if Joker dies then so does Batman. The story has a satisfying ending and plays out like a great comic book would. As you go through the main story you run into new faces in this series such as Penguin, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, Clayface, and Dr. Hugo Strange. All the characters in the game are excellent portrayals of their comic book form, and every character is masterfully voiced. Mark Hamel does an amazing job as The Joker (he has since said that this was his last role as the Clown Prince). You truly feel like you are in a comic book, and this is probably the best comic game made so far.
Exploration is upgraded tenfold here with a large open area to explore. As the name implies, you are in a city where hundreds of criminals, kingpins, and thugs were thrown into to kill each other off. It just so happens Batman’s cure is in here along with Joker. The game may seem smaller than Asylum, but there are less interior areas and more outdoor areas, but this does become an issue. There seems to be less to do with the main story because there are less epic set pieces, and a lot of the game is filled with getting from point A to B. Sure it’s fun using your grapple hook to swing around the city like Spider-Man (I know, wrong universe). You can use your cape to glide around town and do some pretty tricky maneuvers like jumping off walls, dive bombing, and then pulling up and weaving around corners. Hell, they even give you some physical challenges based on this enhanced and well put together exploration system.
Don’t worry too much about being bored because there is a lot of variety in the story, and the indoor areas differ. The majority of the game is actually the Riddler stuff which there is over 400+. There are trophies to find, solutions to puzzles, cameras to destroy, Tyger computers, and this also includes having specific ones for Catwoman. There is enough here to keep you entrained for 30+ hours easily, but people who aren’t completionists may actually bet bored quick.
My favorite part about Arkham City is the new gadgets and the updated free-form combat system which is the best one ever created since God of War. The combat is silky smooth with Batman leaping and bounding on enemies with the push of the analog stick in a direction and the attack button. As long as you are in the combat area Batman will jump to an enemy no matter how far away to keep your combo up. You can counter when an enemy has a symbol flash above their head, but you can also break through shields, knives, and even use gadgets in combat. The system is so fluid with smooth animations that it looks and feels like a perfectly choreographed fight scene from a movie. Some of the new gadgets are a remote controlled Batarang, Freeze Blast bombs, and a weapon disruptor.
In Arkham City, you can play as Catwoman as well, but she only has a few segments in single player, but she’s just as fun. Her combat is just as fluid, but she’s faster and more nimble. She only has a couple of gadgets, but you won’t play her long enough to get disappointed. She has the ability to crawl on grates on ceilings and use her whip to move around buildings. I found this to be slower than Batman because you can whip something far away, but have to climb the building with the press of A, so it takes twice as long to move the same distance.
The visuals are also stunning even in DirectX 9. High-resolution textures, awesome lighting effects, and a dark moody atmosphere that makes you feel like you are in the Batman universe. If you have the monster rig (at least an ATI 6xxx series card is needed for high FPS) you can run the game in DirectX 11, but it is extremely tessellation heavy, and probably the most advanced use of the technology since Crysis 2. Even my rig had FPS drops in the single digits sometimes.
Overall, Batman: Arkham City is a huge game with excellent production values. This is how a comic book game should be made, and all other developers need to take note. With a silky smooth free-flow combat system, tons of hidden secrets, and a very engaging story with state-of-the-art graphics, you will not be disappointed. With added challenge maps to hone your skills, DLC costumes, and even new characters, this is one meaty package. I just wish the game had more epic set pieces and didn’t rely on the open world so much as to use it for filler.