Batman: Arkham City Delivers The Greatest Batman Story A Game Could Give

By Alexander Bevier in Reviews
Friday, October 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm
Rocksteady had a massive hit with Arkham Asylum back in 2009, and they knew they had the freedom to do anything they wanted with Arkham City. The stuido took that freedom, created a story similar to the No Man's Land comic series, and delivered an experience that's unforgettable and will be talked about for a long time. Arkham City tells a Batman story so well Arkham Asylum looks mute.

Five minutes into the game, Bruce Wayne is flung into Arkham City, a walled-off part of Gotham restricted to criminals and whoever the Warden -- Hugo Strange -- sees fit. Strange knows that Wayne is Batman, and the Dark Knight needs to figure out what's going on in the city. It doesn't take long for him to put on the suit and start the investigation. Once the investigation begins, however, the game starts getting really crowded and murky. Once the Batsuit is on, Wayne fights Two-Face. Five minutes later, he's going after the Joker. Then, he's going after Mr. Freeze, but has to fight the Penguin to do so. And in between, Bane, the Riddler, Zsasz, and Catwoman approach Batman and the overwhelming influx of new characters leaves a confused Batman. What missions are in the main story? Do the side missions affect the game? Rocksteady worked so hard to populate their open world with interesting things that nothing seems to be a priority.

Once you take a breather and start focusing on what you want, Arkham City becomes a walk through the brightest side of Crime Alley. Batman can now take care of whatever he wants at his own pace. There's all the time in the world to take out Zsasz. He's not going to kill anyone until you start talking to him, so players can simply focus on what they want to do. 

When the main campaign picks up, Arkham City becomes an engaging original story for Dark Knight fans. Batman is constantly put into scenarios (especially near the end) where the stakes are really high. It seems that Rocksteady, empowered by the success of Arkham Asylum, was able to ask DC Comics if they were allowed to do a lot of unexpected things and got some surprising responses. 

These narrative decisions make it a must play for Batman fans. For everyone else, however, I feel less encouraging. There are a LOT of bad guys in this game, and it doesn't do a great job introducing them. If you don't know who Bane or the Calendar Man is, the game's going to be really confusing, especially if you didn't play Arkham City's predecessor. 

Mechanically, everything works like the old game, but it's all a little more polished and Bats has a few new options. If feels like Batman came prepared for this crazy game, while in Arkham Asylum he spent the whole time improvising. All of the old gadgets are there, and many have a few new tricks. There are now more quick-shot attacks and skills to use on enemies; which is good because the bad guys have just as many new tools to use against you. About halfway though the game, bad guys start attacking you with swords. FREAKING SWORDS.

The open world is fun to travel around for about an hour or so, then it becomes really... large. There's not much to see in the dull, grey dystopia of Arkham City. It won't take long before traveling becomes a chore to get from point A to point B. Additionally, Batman's radio is going off every two seconds from bad guys gossiping which--despite being well-written--gets annoying really fast. Then again, there really shouldn't be any relaxing time for Batman in this game. It's sort of a busy night.

Despite the flew issues I mentioned, Arkham City is a fantastic gaming experience. It's not as groundbreaking as the original, but everything that could be improved upon with an unexpected amount of polish. This game will quench a thirst Rocksteady left gamers with back in 2009, and will still have them parched as they wait for the inevitable Batman 3: Arkham Planet.

The Official Verdict: 4.5 out of 5

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