Batman Arkham City is finally here and to say the least, it is a far cry from disappointment. Batman Arkham City is the perfect sequel to Batman Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady studios has done something truly remarkable with this franchise. They went from being a company no one had ever heard of to a huge name in the gaming industry all because of their Batman games. These two games are all Rocksteady has every done with their franchise and so far both of these games have been executed perfectly. While Batman games have been coming out for almost as long as video games have existed, Rocksteady is the first studio that has been able to do what the others have only tried to accomplish. When playing Arkham Asylum or Arkham City you feel like you are Batman.
When Rocksteady released Arkham Asylum they had given us a truly unique video game experience that had never been seen before. The combat system they have created for this franchise is flawless. Batman can either take on a large group of bad guys with relative ease and look incredible while doing so, or he can hide in the shadows and leave his armed enemies terrified as he puts them to sleep one by one. Each one is equally satisfying and the gadgets Batman is equipped with just make it that much more fun. Every single element from Arkham Asylum has been revamped. There are several new gadgets to play with that make taking down armed bad guys that much more exciting. Some of the gadgets do make rooms a lot easier to clear than in the first game, but with the added level of enemy intelligence as well as more challenging situations it all evens itself out.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed playing as Catwoman. When the game started me out as her and not Batman I was slightly disappointed but once I began to play as her I was amazed at how much fun I was having. Her game play moments were very few, and they were short enough to not be annoying. Her controls are the same layout as Batman’s but she feels very different. She fights and moves through Arkham City in her own unique way. The difference between playing as Batman and Catwoman is similar to driving a different car. The controls are the same and you get around similarly but it feels and handles completely different.
The enemy intelligence in this game is remarkable. In the stealth sequences where you have to eliminate the armed guards, if one of them happens to see you one of the ledges, even though you can easily get away, that guard will go one to shoot the ledge with their gun until it is destroyed and therefore no longer usable. Also, when taking on a large group of enemies at once, there will often be at least bad guy with a gun. While it is pretty obvious to anyone that this is the guy to eliminate first since he is a much lager threat taking him out doesn’t mean the gun isn’t still in the room. The bad guys know this, and when there are dozens of them trying to attack you it is hard to focus on every single one. Eventually if you leave some of them alone for long enough they will find a weapon to use against you. Not only are the bad guys smart enough to pick up weapons, they will pick up whichever one is the strongest to, so if there is a gun still in the room some one will grab it. This is a challenge to the fighting that makes you stay on your toes. It is easy to get lost when fighting multiple enemies and if you are only paying attention to Batman and his awesome ass kicking then before you know it you will be getting shot from across the room.
The story line in this game is quite excellent but I feel like Arkham Asylum had more to offer. Having said that though, Arkham City offers so much more in the way of side quests and areas to explore. Arkham Asylum was a much more linear game but it allowed Rocksteady to give the game a much deeper story line. The main story in Arkham City while good, was still kind of a let down. I was very disappointed with the way things ended and I just kept waiting for there to be more. The final battle with Dr. Hugo Strange was extremely anticlimactic, although the cut scene that follows did come very close to making up for it.
What Rocksteady does with this franchise that really makes these games special is the little touches. The voice acting, game play, graphics, they are all excellent with very little to no room for improvement but the little touches here and there are incredible. I’m not referring to the ones that are there for only the true Batman geeks (like myself) but there are game play touches that really go a long way. For example when you fight Clayface, each time he lands a blow on Batman his suit begins to get covered with this disgusting looking clay. My favorite of these moments has to be, though, when you play as Catwoman again and you are about to leave the building holding Dr. Strange’s loot in each hand, they force you to make a decision. You can either leave the loot and go rescue Batman or you can leave Arkham City with what you have just stolen. I made the choice to leave and was given a short cut scene of Catwoman carrying the briefcases up the stairs and saying “Screw him.” After this the credits began to roll and Barbara Gordon’s voice could be heard saying on her radio that Batman, her father Commissioner Gordon, and everyone was dead and the Joker had won. I was in shock at this point, I couldn’t believe the game was over and I had let Batman die…but then the game rewound itself back to where I had made the decision. The next time I chose to save Batman and moved forward with the story.
Batman Arkham City is a perfect sequel to Batman Arkham Asylum and it improved upon itself in every way possible. This game is definitely worth checking out for anyone who is a fan of the action adventure genre of gaming and this is an absolute must own for anyone who considers themselves a Batman fan. I give this game a 97/100.