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As a longtime Batman fan, I had some difficulty grasping the timeline that these new Batman games take place in. It’s an odd hybrid of the original (and awesome) animated series mixed with the Nolan movies and the comic as well. That may sound like oil and water, but the end result once again came out fantastic. I bring this up simply because one of the first major villains you encounter in the game is the Penguin. He has actually been redesigned for the Arkham City game and quite frankly, I love it! It makes him much more realistic and the story behind his ‘monocle’ is gory yet oddly Nolan-esque. From playing this game, I immediately felt like Arkham City is more aligned with the comics and the movies than the animated series this time, likely due to the fact that Arkham City is exponentially darker than Arkham Asylum.
So, what is going on this time around? Well, Blackgate and Arkham have fallen and the inmates from both facilities have been relocated to Gotham City’s slums, no named Arkham City. As the game starts, Bruce Wayne is kidnapped as he publicy denounces the new facility and in turn becomes a resident of the city himself. After Hugo Strange’s introduction and some chilling revelations, you get introduced to the city. The plot is delivered so efficiently and driven that I won’t go any further but I can tell you that the most dangerous members of Batman’s rogues gallery all play parts in the story.
Arkham City still utilizes freeform combat, allowing you to dictate who Batman is fighting and how he handles himself in a fight. Controls are very responsive and building a hig combo isn’t too difficult if you learn how to counter effectively. Another fun feature in combat is being able to quickly use Batman’s gadgets in fights. Every gadget has a different way of changing the tide of a fight into your favor. For example, armed henchmen causing issues during a fight? Use the Bat-Claw to pull those guns right out of their hands, then beat them senseless.
There is plenty enough to do while playing through the main story, side quests and Riddler challenges are all over the city. Completing many side missions will allow for encounters with additional villians and guest appearances from other DC characters. Run around the city finding victims of a serial killer that is removing their victim’s faces and eventually catch up to Hush or have a few chance run-ins with Azrael and learn Batman’s prophesized future. On top of all that, there are also a ton of easter eggs hidden within the game as well. Some may hint to a plot around the eventual 3rd game or also point to why certain characters are missing from the story, many of these are quite difficult to find though, so we will also make sure to keep an eye open for anything that shows up.
The audio and visual aspects of the game are on par with what can now be expected in a Batman game. A great example of this is the fact that almost every sound you hear is connected to something happening within the city, henchmen chatter, footsteps of patrolling guards and ringing phones will always be around to tear your attention away from the task at hand. Gothic style orchestrated music accompanies most down time, giving you a Batman feel as you are patrolling the streets. The graphics are amazing as always, utilizing a graphical style that is on par with the best games out currently, and Batman’s look changes as gameplay progresses as well, showing cuts, scrapes and bruises from his encounters with Arkham’s worst inmates.
There really isn’t too much to nitpick about in this game, combat can get difficult but if you are getting shot to death or bombarded by thugs, you probably are not thinking like the Batman. That is one of the things I really love about the game and was something that Arkham Asylum really didn’t give you the freedom to do. While soaring around the Arkham City skies, you can swoop down and bash the heads in of any thugs that are harming the innocent political prisoners, then you can grapple out and continue hunting the scum of Arkham City. On rare occasions, Batman may make an odd turn while grappling throughout the city, but even then these small errors are easy to fix when you are using the glide function.
Long story short, this is certainly the best comic book inspired game that I have had to opportunity to play so far and with the upgraded combat and gadget systems, Arkham City offers a considerably more robust experience that it’s already legendary predecessor. There is so much more offered to the player outside of Riddler challenges and trophy hunts which is great because even after the game is over, there is an abundance of things to do afterwards as well. Batman Arkham City may not be perfect, but it is damn close!
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- Freeflow combat allows for 25 on 1 combat with ease
- Different challenge modes and maps to extend play
- Killer story, awesome voice acting
- Easter eggs galore
- New Game + is brutal
- Encountered a very rare live loading bug