Batman: Arkham City Review
Posted January 17, 2012 by Jallen (153)
Batman: Arkham Asylum was pretty much a shock hit back in 2009. Sure we all hoped for a fantastic game starring everybody’s favourite detective in tights, but good superhero games are in short supply. Yet that’s what happened, with Arkham Asylum gaining GOTY awards across the board. The developers’ Rocksteady had a hard task in front of them in terms of creating a better sequel. Seems that they decided that bigger was better. Yes the hint is in the name, Arkham City is a much bigger game than its predecessor, perhaps a bit too big at times.
Set around 18months after Arkham Asylum, Arkham City sees a large section of Gotham turned into a super-prison. Simply put Mayor Quincy Sharp and the mastermind behind the plans, Hugo Strange, have throw all the criminals into their own city, built a wall around it and left them with only one rule: try to escape and you will be shot! Naturally this leads to hell on earth as Joker, Two Face and the Penguin each vie for control over the prison; leading hordes of surprisingly well armed thugs in a perpetual gang war.
Things really heat up when Bruce Wayne is protesting outside Arkham City but gets kidnapped by Strange and thrown into the city. Once inside he quickly suits up as the Bat, learns that the ominous “Protocol 10” is soon to be into effect and the Joker is up to something. Add to this a couple more favourite villains from Batman’s past and you’ve got yourself one hell of a story.
To accommodate for the larger map Batman can now almost fly. Gliding has been refined allowing our caped crusader to swoop down gaining speed and then bank up gaining height. Timed correctly you can travel large distances without ever touching the ground. There is also a new gadget attached to the grappling hook that once activated will literally fire Batman into the sky allowing for seamless ground-to-air transition. Assuming you don’t ram into a wall or accidently grapple onto the wrong section. The auto-aim with the grappling hook is a bit hit and miss; especially in densely packed areas with multiple heights. This also happens to be 90% of the map. Thankfully not a major problem but it ruins the flow that the game attempts to give you, it just reminds you that; yeah, you’re not Batman.
Of course the grappling hook isn’t the only gadget in the game, he is Batman after all. We get to keep almost all of the gadgets from the first game which includes; the humble batarang, the remote controlled batarang, explosive gel, the grappling hook, the line-shot and the Cryptographic Sequencer (the only ones missing are the multiple batarang and the multiple grappling hook). Add to this a new electrical ranged weapon and freeze bombs and you’ve got a lot of weaponry. These gadgets allow Batman access to areas throughout the city and you gain new ones as you progress. This in turn allows further access, creating a metroidvania style of gameplay. Aiding you throughout the game is your Detective Vision that allows you to see through walls, observe enemies, highlights points of interest and anything else the plot requires.
Throughout the map (and of course in levels) are various criminals you can beat up. Combat is virtually the same as Arkham Asylum with the added ability to counter multiple attackers as the same time. Yes thugs don’t take turns to beat you up now and you’ll be constantly switching between attacking and defending yourself; watching Batman impressively take down a room full of psychos using only his fists. At least that’s if you want to, you can also add in his gadgets to the mix. This later becomes a necessity as new tougher opponents are introduced. For as fun as this combat is you can’t help but feel that it’s just a bit of a button masher, on more than one occasion I ended up getting cramp in my hand as I fought off dozens of combatants at once.
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