Reviews// Batman: Arkham City

Posted 14 Oct 2011 14:01 by
I often look back fondly to my days as a Masked Avenger of the Weak. A Protector of the Innocent. A Dark Knight, if you will. Those cheerful (sorry, 'grim') hours when, if Christian Bale had come up to me and - in his best gravel-throated growl proclaimed ''I'M BATMAN!' I'd have said, 'clear off mate, I'm Batman'. That was what Batman: Arkham Asylum gave you about as close an approximation of what it'd be like to be Batman as you're going to get without ordering a costume online and doing a Kick-Ass.

I loved Arkham Asylum. Arkham City has some big shoes to fill. It's OK though. It has big feet.

As the game opens Mayor Quincy Sharp (formerly warden Quincy Sharp of Arkham Asylum) has chucked a lot of money into buying up Gotham real estate and throwing up a really big wall around it. Inside those walls is where the former inmates of Arkham and Blackgate prison live now. There are no guards in there. No cells. Just a bunch of lunatics running feral, having turf wars and scheming away. To make matters worse, it's being run by rogue psychiatrist Hugo Strange.

The level of madness in there is directly proportional to the level of success of Batman has in the outside world, and judging by the roll call of sociopaths behind Arkham City's walls, the Caped Crusader's doing a pretty good job. Among others, you'll run across the Joker, Two-Face, Mr Freeze, Deadshot, The Penguin, Poison Ivy and others. Kick-Ass would get eaten alive in there, digested, shat out and then eaten again.

Gameplay takes much the same form as in Arkham Asylum. The basic formula of the last game was most certainly not broken and Rocksteady has not attempted to fix it. As you investigate what Hugo Strange is up to in Arkham City, you're led from one twisted situation to another which will demand either straightforward fisticuffs or stealthier, tactical play.

The game utilises the same freeflow combat system as before. Rather than being about memorising strings of combos, it's all about timing and movement. The basic combat buttons are [X] (I played the 360 version) for a strike and [Y] to counter. Button-mash and you'll be vulnerable to attack. Keep moving while remaining sensitive to incoming blows and you'll keep ahead of the curve. As you progress, toughs with added toughness such as armour, shields and blades pop up and your repertoire of moves is updated to compensate, but the list of moves never comes close to overwhelming.

Technically speaking, it's not that different to the last game, but new animations give it enough freshness to keep things interesting. Plus, it wasn't broken to start with.

Then there are the stealthy situations, for those moments when you just aren't bulletproof enough. (That's pretty much any moment when someone's pointing a gun at you). These sections were the real strength of the last game.

Rocksteady could have opted to keep this series about brawling and have easily gotten away with it. Having to take to the rafters, switch on detective vision and use it to track your enemies and plan their downfalls accordingly is much more satisfying, though. The same sorts of moves are available to you as in the last game, but the AI's a lot smarter.

In AA I was able, for a lot of the game, to get away with lurking around the ceiling and periodically either swooping in for a glide kick or dropping for an inverted takedown.

In AC, however, your enemies are much more likely to cling together and respond quickly to a fallen colleague and much less vulnerable as a result. This sounds like a small tweak, but it has a big impact on how you play. I was finding it necessary to use a much wider range of tactics and make much better use of the environment to distract enemies. The result was that I felt like a better Batman, which is what we all should aim to be in this life.

The bosses still have a slightly nasty tendency to be of the 'charge at you head on' variety, but Rocksteady has brought in some variation, too. The bosses are also relatively few and far between. It's a problem, but it's not a massive one.
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Comments

Trigger 14 Oct 2011 14:22
1/14
Knowing how much you love Batman (as do I) this review and score makes me smile! Very much looking forward to it.

Just have to wait that bit longer with the delay to the PC version.
Spinface 14 Oct 2011 14:51
2/14
Trigger wrote:
Knowing how much you love Batman (as do I) this review and score makes me smile! Very much looking forward to it.

Just have to wait that bit longer with the delay to the PC version.


Thanks! Really can't imagine you being disappointed.
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why? 14 Oct 2011 15:48
3/14
slow clap for spong... another 'great' review. learn to write. i still don't know why you continue to bother.

i got through 3 paragraphs and then had to stop. so boring. that first line of the 3rd paragraph is literally retarded. do you even have an editor?
Tim Smith 14 Oct 2011 16:02
4/14
@why? "As the game opens Mayor Quincy Sharp (formerly warden Quincy Sharp of Arkham Asylum) has chucked a lot of money into buying up Gotham real estate and throwing up a really big wall around it."

Maybe I'm missing a definition of 'retarded'. Would you like to clarify? Or are you happy just to snipe from a distance?

Cheers

Tim
config 14 Oct 2011 16:07
5/14
@why?
<to the rhythm of Python 'spam' song>
Troll troll troll troll, troll troll troll troll, trooooooll, wonderful troooll

Couldn't see a thing wrong with line 1, par 3. Maybe casual terms like "chuck" don't make it through his/hers/its reality distortion field.
why? 14 Oct 2011 16:16
6/14
"As the game opens Mayor Quincy Sharp..." you don't see what's wrong with that?

What in Mayor Quincy Sharp does the game open exactly?
Tim Smith 14 Oct 2011 16:32
7/14
why? wrote:
"As the game opens Mayor Quincy Sharp..." you don't see what's wrong with that?
What in Mayor Quincy Sharp does the game open exactly?


I see, a comma.

I'd agree with you if:

a) There was any hard and fast rule on this.
b) A sub-clause "As the game opens, which takes some time, it is dawn in Arkham..." was in place.
c) A game could open Mayor Sharp - it obviously can't.

I think calling the use of an optional comma "retarded" is a bit harsh.

That said, I appreciate that you're not sniping from a distance and have had the good grace to return comment. I respect that.

Cheers

Tim
qwerk of nurture 14 Oct 2011 16:51
8/14
lulz. I can picture him, right now, all alone in his w1 apartment. it's a forest of glass and steel. very 80s. reclining on a le corbusier, his macbook air teeters dangerously on his lap while he alternates between hitting "reload" to see who gives a s**t about his diatribe and touching himself. it's all a bit bateman, if you ask me.
why? 14 Oct 2011 17:07
9/14
@Tim

are you coming on to me?

gay...
Tim Smith 14 Oct 2011 17:23
10/14
why? wrote:
@Tim

are you coming on to me?

gay...


That would actually be 'gay', yes.

Don't worry, I don't go for the anonymous types.

Pip pip

Tim
Matt 17 Oct 2011 03:35
11/14
@why?
Dude, why don't you learn how to write first.
deleted 17 Oct 2011 21:53
12/14
Well back on topic...


Batman being my fav first and i suspect he is the favorite of many, with all that dark moody he's just a man not superman and all that, but anyway, i am very please with the score and the review was pleasant to read althoguh would of like a bitmore info on the side missions ie: what they are, do i expect to be collecting riddler trophies etc.

cant wait though :)
Fanny 17 Oct 2011 22:11
13/14
I think I might try and get into this one. I like the idea of being Catwoman. Eartha Kitt, get ready to spin in that grave!

Oh, I made myself sad : (
headcasephil 21 Oct 2011 12:41
14/14
@why? and this is why i think spong should have left it so on spong members could submit in forums
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