It’s been a while since I’ve played a Batman game. The last one I can recall was LEGO Batman and that was fun humorous title which really played well for what it wanted to achieve. However those of us clamoring for the real dark knight would have been disappointed with Tell Tales charming title. This is where Rocksteady’s latest reboot of the Batman Arkham series steps in. Back in 2009 when we laid our eyes upon “Arkham Asylum” critics and players alike fell back in love with Batman gaming. With other superhero games lacking in recent years, Rocksteady’s Batman has really shown the industry a prime example of what can be achieved. Now we see these developers trying to recapture the glory which they claimed a few years ago with the sequel “Batman Arkham City”. Can this be done? Let’s find out...
Gameplay and Story
If you’ve played Arkham Asylum before, you’ll feel right at home. In my testing I used the familiar controls of my Xbox 360 Controller thanks to Feral’s out-of-the-box gamepad support. The rumble felt great and from the limited use of the keyboard and mouse I did use it played the same way it’s predecessor did so well. With the combos and finishing moves still there in all their glory there really aren’t any complaints. But this sameness is probably not what you came to read about. As a person, like me, who thoroughly enjoyed the last installment I just want to see improvement and development to shed a new light on this game.
Thankfully there were numerous elements which greatly improved on this high standard already left by Arkham Asylum. First of which, is the story. Normally with action packed games of this genre the plot unfortunately is uninteresting and lacks the substance for the player to take much notice. However I felt that even with the high standard of Arkham Asylum, the story was even more enthralling than before. With added playable characters such as Catwoman and Robin, it opened up the player to essentially a whole new game and perspective. It also gave the player the new challenge of mastering new tools of these characters. As a person who only really became interested in Batman when Christopher Nolan rebooted the films, I felt that with these added perspectives as well as the close examination of these characters throughout the campaign I gained a much better insight into the universe of Batman.
The story also shines when the player can see it’s tie in with the environment. Everywhere you turn there is a little piece of the story that wants to be told. One example of this can be seen with the dialogue constantly following the player as they swing from building to building. Sometimes I even found myself stopping my progress just to hear the prisoners opinion of the villain in question. But if you are busy gliding to your next destination the conversation continues through Batman’s techo-wizardry in his headset. This really gives a nice texture to the story in a non-obtrusive way and if your the sort of person who really loves to get into the backstory, this game makes it very easy for you to gain a deeper understanding of the story without slowing your progress down.
Speaking of becoming distracted another great thing that this game does really well is how open the world is. While some players did feel a little restricted in Arkham Asylum, they might be spoiled for choice in Arkham City. The amount of things to do in the campaign alone will take many many hours to complete. The Zsasz telephone missions by themselves could probably make a stand-alone outing. Rushing around Arkham City trying to find the next telephone in a similar way to “Die Hard 3” was actually quite addicting and mostly distracted me from the actual story for a while. This, plus the countless puzzles from Riddler and many more really help give this game more a Grand Theft Auto feel then anything else.
Besides the side missions there is also the luxury of just starting a fight. While this is nothing I would endorse doing in real life, the fun of taking down some unsuspecting victims is really something that’s just a great deal of fun to do. Stacking up combos or using special takedowns you can unlock from the Waynetech slide in Batman’s HUD is a great way to practice your skills. And the best part about it is that if you are bored or getting absolutely owned, you can find the nearest ledge and Batclaw away. Simple as that. Also, if you’re just cleaning up, you’ll see more and more gangs from around the place try to take you down.
And if that wasn’t enough there is another part of the game that is worthy of mentioning, and that is Riddler’s Revenge. This not only extends the very best part of the whole game but it creates a sort of snack version of what the game has to offer. By finding Riddler’s trophies throughout the campaign, it unlocks not only cool concept art but also other levels to master. These are rooms from the campaign that have been cornered off for you to conquer again quickly and creatively. You can choose your favorite hero character to play and it’s up to you to try and break the records and challenges set by Riddler to complete them 100%. While that task was pretty hard to achieve for my skill level, I still managed to have a blast taking down miscreants silently and other times with an insane combo attack.
The DLC is also worthy of a quick mention. To avoid spoilers all I can say is that it was definitely a worthy addition and an excellent way to continue the story on from it’s great climax at the end.
Overall the gameplay in all it’s elements have really helped reinvent this game into a new classic once again. With the many things to do I know that if you’re a person who really loves how the game handles it’s combat and story, you’ll definitely have countless hours of fun. While it was disappointing to see that Rocksteady refused to have any multiplayer mode the trade off for the gameplay and the story, I think, really paid off.
Since we are a Mac gaming site I think it is important to comment on how this game performs. As I am a poor collage student I played through this game entirely on my MacBook Air (Full specs at the end). While most of these highly detailed games would usually destroy computers like this, I found that it actually performed quite well. I was able to push it to Medium texture detail with some of the visual flares turned on without any hiccups. However that does come at the sacrifice of the fans turning on full and the underside of the laptop turning into a frying pan. But with a good pair of headphones and the laptop staying on the desk rather than your lap, it didn’t really seem to annoy me.
Overall, when I look at everything this game offers, I felt it was one of those rare cases where it was very difficult to find something wrong with it. While I did mention the missing multiplayer for the most part there really isn’t a lot to complain about with Batman Arkham City. Even if you’re not a fan of the Batman series this game will definitely convert you. It is positively a must play for gaming enthusiasts.
- Solid Combat
- Expansive World
- Great Dialogue / Voice Acting
- Countless things to do... constantly
- No Multiplayer
Rating: 4/5 Stars.