“No escape from Arkham City, the sprawling mega-prison in the heart of Gotham City, home to its most violent thugs and most notorious super-villains.”
Batman: Arkham City, sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum, gives players the opportunity to once again see through the eyes of Batman, and several other playable characters, in an attempt to stop the dark deeds that may be occurring in the dark prison world known as Arkham City. Complete with every super-villain in the book, all the gadgets in your arsenal, and the utilities that allow you to be the greatest detective in the world, the game makes you feel as if you’re actually Batman himself.
A big picture game
The characters are done flawlessly and everyone’s personalities and profiles are detailed down to the last dime. All the super-villains are exactly as I would picture them. The Joker is the definition of insanity and the Riddler is a well-thought out maniac. The voice acting is also stunning and the sound the game has to offer is very immersive. It really is the Batman world. What I found most interesting was that the renditions of the characters used in the game are that of the original comic-book versions, which is a big plus.
The main plot itself is pretty straight-forward but playing it is very complex. Bruce Wayne dives into the world of politics, something happens where he’s captured and put into Arkham City, and finds out about something called “Protocol 10” which sparks his curiosity, turning him into the Dark Knight to figure out what it is. Pretty straight to the point, no? Of course, a long the way, you’ll come across every one of your arch enemies from The Penguin to Two-Face, and of course, the illustrious Joker who is as crazy and as twisted as ever. The primary anatagonist for this game seems to be Dr. Hugo Strange, who coincidently runs the whole prison city.
Complex Character with ease-of-use
We all know Batman is a complex guy; with his big ego, fancy gadgets, and kick-butt fighting style. Despite this, the game makes him so simple to use which is great. This means there’s a very minimal learning curve to simply play the game. There are also only 3 real combat buttons; Strike, counter, and stun and a combination of the three does something amazing every now and then. His quick-use gadgets such as the batarang and batclaw can easily be switched around with the d-pad and be used with the fast action of the triggers in-combat.
Of course, the more advanced and technical player will enjoy the vast array of bat combos, which you can learn to master and abuse in-order to take down bad guys in the most epic of ways. There’s a vast array of bat moves that are waiting to be unlocked. Giant chain combos from one move into another grant bonuses and it’s also an achievement, or trophy, to use all his moves in one fight. Other than that, all you need to know is the strike and counter button and you’re golden.
The ability to play as other characters such as Robin and Catwoman is also a plus and adds more variety to the game because not only do they each have their own story, but have their own abilities that make hunting down certain secrets a lot easier. Each character however has to be downloaded via DLC. Not much changes switching from character to character except their move set and how they would interact with certain things. I’m going to assume Batman and Robin are more into the detective work while Catwoman has theft on her mind.
The game also plays out like an RPG. You gain experience to level up which gives you points to buy new combos, gadgets, and passive abilities like armor. The customization isn’t quite as complex as Deus Ex or Mass Effect, but it gives you the incentive to level up in-order to earn neat things like the “ground shockwave” or “batclaw disarm”.
There’s a tool for everything
The game gives you full access to some of Batman’s most famous gadgets. From the Batarang to Explosive Gel, it makes you wonder how his belt fits everything. He also comes with a slew of “passive” gadgets. You don’t really have physical access to these items but they’re always active on your HUD. As you explore the world of Arkham city, you automatically tune into nearby people’s conversations, and monitor their heart-rates. In certain missions, he’ll even pull out another tech-item that happens to be perfect for the situation, such as the call-tracer for missions with Victor Zsasz.
A lot of the conversations heard in the game aren’t necessary to the main plot line but it adds a whole new depth to the game. It can sometimes feel good to thwart a mugger’s attempts from stealing from innocent political inmates or just listen in to how many people are actually afraid of you, which seems to be everyone. After you’ve revealed yourself, their heart rates shoot up and their status turns to “nervous”, which is a bonus.
You can also go into “detective mode” which allows you to see through walls, listen-in to conversations, and help analyze a crime scene. I swear, Batman invented the technology found in Deus Ex. He’s pretty ridiculous and it’s pretty fun to see how Batman solves problems. There’s a side mission involving the hired mercenary Deadshot, who assassinates an innocent inmate. Using Batman’s detective skills, you’re able to analyze the penetration of the bullet and use the trajectory to track him down.
Gliding and grappling, the full explorer’s experience
The game is a Sandbox title after all, and thus, gives players the full right to explore and travel around Arkham City as they please. There’s nothing more classic than having batman perch up on the edge of a building, surveying everything around him, picking-and-choosing his battles. It’s pretty neat because the world around you is alive. You can listen in to people’s conversations and perhaps stop an on-going mugging or gang fight.
Your primary source of travel is your Batclaw, which might I say, is an extremely effective form of travel. You can grapple to just about anything to get around as long as the object is close enough. It turns you into Spiderman if you’re familiar with his games because it’s very similar to his web-sling, except the batclaw is faster.
Also, jumping off high-buildings also allows you to utilize Batman’s cape as a glider which also aids in faster traveling. While you’re gliding and just happen to feel the need to beat face-in, you can use Batman’s “Dive Kick” to swoop in quickly and undetected, to inflict pain onto an unsuspecting victim and knock them out cold.While you’re gliding, you can use your claw to grapple into various buildings to allow for even faster travel. There are tons of buildings and secrets for you to Explorer so straying from the main story will become a natural habit.
“Keeping The Bat busy…”
Aside from the main story involved with the joker, there are tons of fun side-quests you can do to further enhance your overall-experience. There are side missions involving Deadshot, Zsasz, The Riddler, and even the previous game’s antagonist, Bane. There are even small side-missions that just spontaneously happen like “Go check out a distress flare on a roof” or something of the sorts.
Stopping Zsasz was one of my favorite side missions because it’s a race against the clock. In Arkham City, he’s known as the “Phone booth killer” because he kills people when they answer random phone calls and as Batman, it’s your job to answer them before he kills an innocent victim. When a phone rings in the city, the bat-computer detects it, revealing its location. When you do answer the phone, what’s really cool is you’re using his own insanity against him, asking him to talk about his past while you slowly begin to trace his call, which involves a tedious little mini-game where you track a beacon as he talks to you.
Of course, can’t go wrong with the world’s greatest detective vs. the world’s greatest assassin battle. Deadshot will be making his debut in this game, assassinating different people while you slowly try to track him down using clues found at the crime scenes. He’s silent and deadly and he wants your blood.
You can also never forget The Riddler and his very annoying riddles. I love the Riddler in this game. His very insane genius is just oozing out of him, making him the classic criminal mastermind he is. He likes to kidnap people and have you go through a ton of riddles and mini-games to try and save them. Aside from his side-missions, there are also “Riddler Trophies” all around the map and they allow you to unlock more secrets. I guess you can sort of call them hidden achievements much like “skulls” were in Halo 3.
Arkham Asylum antagonist, Bane, will also be making a return, except this time, as a neutral ally. He realized what he has done involving a drug he created called “Titan” was wrong and wants to destroy what he has done. Batman agrees to work with him under neutral circumstances to try and destroy the “Titan”.
There are even augmented reality training lessons involving your glider, which are around in the city to help you train and learn new tricks so you can get around faster. After you beat a full set of them, you unlock a new gadget which comes-in via Batwing like a grappling hook that moves even faster than the original.
I find that the side-missions and extra features make the game. The main story is very entertaining but having a one on one with other famous super-villains is just as good.
The game is impressive. Enough said. It does everything it intends on doing which makes the player feel like they’re in the Batman world. There are tons of things to do and the game fit everything into one nice package. Tons of characters make their debut as well as their return and full use of Batman’s arsenal makes your life an epic breeze.