Review: Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City/ Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC/Rating: Teen/1 Player/Release Date: 10-18-11

All the hype: Deserved

I’m not sure what was a bigger deal over the summer.  On one hand the lack of decent games being released was extremely disappointing.  On the other, Batman: Arkham City had what seemed to be a full cover story multiple times is different magazines.  I’m here to say that all the hype was more than deserved.  City takes Asylum and improves on literally every aspect.  Asylum was a great game and set the bar for others, but City is a game that will have its gamers playing for years. 

To give a small example of how busy I was in the main story, after I beat the main objectives and a few other secondary ones, I had a whopping 43% of the game complete.  The next day I went back and logged about 4 more hours into the story and only got up to 50%.  This Batman almost acts as an RPG.  At some points I’d have three or four missions I could tackle.  I could go after the main objectives, or tackle a payphone killer, or help Bane out, or play as Catwoman.

Did I say Catwoman?  Yeah, and playing as her is almost better than being the Dark Knight himself.  She’s much more agile than Batman is at performing combos and counter attacks.  While Batman has the strength advantage, Catwoman is all about using her speed.  Her abilities to climb walls and crawl around to take her enemies out silently is a lot of fun and change of pace from the Caped Crusader.  She even had her own trophies to collect, and a small part in the main story.  After Batman finished the main quests, a couple switch points were available where I could change between Catwoman and Batman at will.

There were many new/old villains to keep the game fresh.  The Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Two Face made appearances.  The Penguin had the biggest impact of the group, but the Joker remained the top criminal.  I have to admit that The Joker, to me, is as big of a part of the game as Batman is.  Without him the game loses an edge.  The ending will leave you in disbelief, and wanting a sequel immediately.

The Riddler was back and a bigger part of the game than he was in Asylum, not hidden in the shadows.  There were well over 400 riddles to solve, and I had to solve enough of them to get the info on where each hostage was being held.  The trophies were also harder to obtain.  For some I had to use the remote controlled batarang, hit certain targets, and then grab the trophy with the batclaw. 

Batman’s gadgets got an upgrade and a few new ones got thrown in.  When snipers were gunning me down, I could throw a smoke bomb and escape without taking too much damage.  Don’t expect to hide and regain health, either.  Just like Asylum I had to get XP to get my health back.  This made for some careful battles when health was running low.  I stopped concentrating on getting combos and countered more often. 

Challenge rooms were excellent again.  Catwoman even had a set of her own.  Even though Robin only had one scene in the game, he has a DLC now available that allows me to play as him, or Nightwing, in the challenge maps.  Predator and Combat maps were the available modes, and the best way to show off Batman’s abilities.

Batman: Arkham City expands from its predescor in every way.  I will likely be popping the game in four or five years down the road from now.  I can’t see the game having anything but a Game of the Year label once the awards are handed out.  It’s probably the best licensed game to ever be made.

-By Geoff Barry

Final Verdict: 100%