A superhero games usually has a lot of expectations to live up to, but when it comes to batman, they soar at an entirely different level. After Arkham Asylum release’s in 2009 and redefined the dynamics of superhero games completely, gamers couldn’t wait to return to Gotham City. Expectations were running high, and it seemed impossible for the sequel to live up to the hype. However, those doubts can now be put to rest; Batman: Arkham City is an extraordinary successor that is bigger and better in all respects.
One year after the events of the previous game, Batman now ventures across the free-roaming prison metropolis, Arkham City in order to save Catwoman from danger. The story makes way for many of the series’ iconic villains, such as the joker, two-face Harvey and the Riddler to cast their mischief. The caretaker of the city, Hugo Strange, works in the shadows on a malicious project he constantly refers to as Protocol 10; that could be the greatest threat the Dark Knight has ever faced. The story is faithful to the Batman myths, and despite the urgency with which it propels you forward, it elaborately binds the player in its complex web of excitement and mystery. Batman: Arkham City will get 9.5/10 in its amazing story line.
From the get-go, you will experience all the refinements that Rocksteady has made over the last two years. Controls feel tight and responsive, offering a greater variety for the Caped Crusader to interact with the world around him. The games critical path takes you through many areas of Arkham City, ranging from underground sewers and derelict buildings to the abandoned precinct of the Gotham Police Department and the joker’s hideout. The area is touted to be roughly five times bigger than the original, and while it isn’t completely free-roaming, there are plenty areas and internal structures to visit.
You will be facing henchmen of each of the villains, all of whom come with a variety of challenging situations. The combat itself has been refined to be more intuitive and fun. Moreover, Batman can now counter attacks from multiple enemies simultaneously, taking down as many as four baddies at once, and his Glide ability has been modified to become more effective in stunning the enemies. In addition, nearly all the gadgets from the original game are available from the start (of the game), with Batman getting some new toys to play with, including the smoke pellet, freeze bombs and the Firearm Jammer. Most of these tools can now be freely used during combat; others like the Grapnel Boost which gets you soaring through the skies, have a more utilitarian use. Attractive gameplay of Batman: Arkham City will get 9.3/10.
Arkham City is not all about gadgets; the mission structures and enemy configurations demand that Batman assess the situation carefully before executing any plan. Enemies now take hostages and search everywhere for the Dark Night to get rid of him. The missions are exciting and gripping, and once you turn on Detective Mode, you will find that the main story is only the tip of the iceberg. Arkham City is huge and houses many other villains from the Batman series, all with their own unique missions. These serve as amazing distraction from the main quest, as you will soon find yourself engaging solely in many of the extras spread out for you. The Riddler is back and has increased his mischief to whooping 400-plus challenges for Batman to solve. These include collecting hidden trophies, finding Riddler symbols in Detective Mode, and racing across series of checkpoints. However, some areas remains locked off until the Batman can find the right gadget.
Sights and Sounds
The result of the game’s expensive production are as clear as day in Arkham City. The effects are simply intoxicating with some stunning visuals. The multiple locals are dark and gritty but punctuated with a few colours here and there. Voice acting hits all the high notes with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill once again reprising their roles of Batman and the Joker. The soundtrack is sweeping and orchestral, and brings back the days when animated series reigned on TV. Simply put, the game is a treat in every way. The presentation of Batman: Arkham City is excellent, so it will get 9.3/10.
Surpassing all expectations is not an easy feat, but Rocksteady has proven that even great titles can be topped with something better. Batman: Arkham City is a phenomenal game and warrants its place on your shelf this holiday season. Not doing so would be criminal indeed.