Reviews// Batman: Arkham City

Posted 14 Oct 2011 14:01 by
Where Arkham City takes its big step forward, though, is in its scope. Warner Bros has touted the game area as five times the size of that in AA.

That's perhaps a little disingenuous ? in AA most of the game area was playable both inside and outside the buildings, where in AC many of the buildings are shut off. So, while there might be a lot more square metres of game real estate, a lot of that is scenery rather than areas packed full of gameplay.

Still, we certainly shouldn't sniff at Rocksteady's achievements here.

Where the Asylum felt tight and claustrophobic, Arkham City feels like a vast tangle of broken architecture. While you could technically describe AA as an open-world game, AC has a much more potent sandbox feel to it. It feels like there's a lot to explore, and navigating and traversing the prison area is a lot of fun.

The length of the main story is in the ballpark of 17 or 18 hours, but there's tonnes of content beyond that. Side missions are varied and plentiful. Being on a review deadline, I only got chance to dip my toe in, but if you want to be a completist about Arkham City I'd say you're probably looking at upwards of 35 hours of gameplay.

These hours also include Catwoman as a playable character (dependant on you having a first-hand copy with a download code or buying a code from your online service of choice). Her movement and her moves are very different to Batman's.

She is (predictably) cat-like and more low-tech than Batman. Rocksteady has done a pretty good job of making her movements suitably feline without lapsing into Halle Berry-esque exaggeration. Catwoman provides a nice note of difference that breaks up the rest of the game. Catwoman can come back next time if she likes.

Paul Dini returned for writing duty and, once again, has done a bang-up job. Given Dini's work on Batman: The Animated Series and the use of voice talent from that show ? Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (The Joker) being the key figures ? the game has the feel of a twisted, darker version of the cartoon.

This is no bad thing - many a Batman fan cut their teeth on that programme and this is a man who knows his way around the characters. Kevin Conroy still feels like too polite a Batman for the visual tone of the game on occasion, but there's an anger and brutality in his performance that wasn't there before that goes some way to counteract that.

As a Batman fan, I like the fact that the Arkham franchise has established its own continuity now. While you might have argued that the first game could, at a push, fit in with the comics continuity at some point, the very existence of Arkham City demonstrates that's not the case in the sequel.

The series' story has followed its own path and, not having to pander to established comics or movie canon, it lends it more gravity. That's not to say things are wildly different from the comics ? most of the back stories more or less dovetail with the comics as of a few years ago ? but there's a sense that AC could go anywhere and stands on its own.

Visually, Rocksteady has upped its game. The graphics are on a par with the previous title, but the dev has risen to the challenge offered by AC's variety with some brilliant design choices.

New locations like the Steel Mill and museum (which is a bit reminiscent of BioShock, in places) look great, while the decayed, broken grandeur of Arkham City as seen from the rooftops reeks of atmosphere.

Conclusion
Arkham City is a very worthy successor to Arkham Asylum. It builds on rock solid foundations to create an experience that is bigger, tighter and smarter than its predecessor. It's all the Batman with none of the bruises.

SPOnG Score: 96%
<< prev    1 -2-

Read More Like This


Comments

Trigger 14 Oct 2011 13:22
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 13:51
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.
more comments below our sponsor's message
why? 14 Oct 2011 14:48
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 15:02
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 15:07
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 15:16
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 15:32
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 15:51
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 16:07
9/14
@Tim

are you coming on to me?

gay...
Tim Smith 14 Oct 2011 16:23
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 02:35
11/14
@why?
Dude, why don't you learn how to write first.
deleted 17 Oct 2011 20:53
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 21:11
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 11:41
14/14
@why? and this is why i think spong should have left it so on spong members could submit in forums
Posting of new comments is now locked for this page.