Product Type: Warner Bros. PS3 games
Newest Review: ... it starts to get very boring. The same could be said for attacking the various goons, sure there are different types as with the first... more
This aint no place for a hero!
Batman: Arkham City (PS3)
Member Name: carl_lazarevic
Batman: Arkham City (PS3)
Disadvantages: if anything just that there is too much extra stuff
Despite gaining the Guinness World Record for the 'Most critically Acclaimed Superhero Game In History' Arkham Asylum had one notable problem. How exactly would it be topped in the inevitable sequel? Some speculated that the backdrop could be changed to Gotham City itself, while others figured that doing so would destroy the flow of the gameplay by overloading it with needless 'save the little girls balloon' sidequests (see any open world Spiderman game). Thankfully Rocksteady have once again pulled out all the stops to create a sequel that is bigger and better without losing the Batman atmosphere that made the original so notable.
Batman Arkham City is set one year after the events of the last game. In it Warden Quincy Sharp has taken credit for stopping The Joker's rampage on Arkham Island and been voted mayor. His first act was to Cordon off a section of Gotham City that was already ridden with crime (including the infamous Crime Alley) and use this ground as a new super prison he terms Arkham City. Sharp rationalises that by placing the crazes in the city environment; without cells, they can do their thing without escaping to bother the honest citizens of Gotham. At a press conference in which he opposes this development millionaire Bruce Wayne is arrested by prison security and thrown into Arkham City as a political prisoner. The bad news is that the prison is being run by the sinister Dr. Hugo Strange, who seems to have figured out Bruce Wayne's big secret and is obsessed with one upping The Batman's crime fighting ways. He plans to do so through a project he terms 'Protocol 10.'
Playing as Wayne you must escape a beatdown from the Penguin and then head up to the roof tops to find your costume. Only then are you free to investigate every inch of the city and uncover the truth behind protocol 10.
From a gameplay perspective this will all seem very familiar to fans of the first game. Arkham City is a third person adventure game where the player takes control of the infamous Batman. Throughout the game you will traverse an ever expanding hub world and explore a series of locations within. Think Legend Of Zelda with a cape and you will have a fair idea what I mean. Like Zelda the game is loaded to the gills with sidequests, and each 'dungeon' will unlock a new gadget that will enable you to backtrack to previous levels for missed collectables. They also feature a few very large bosses that can only be beaten by figuring out their weakness and hitting them; though there is one extremely good boss who bucks that trend.
That may seem familiar, but the environment of Arkham City is now five times larger than Asylum and so control of Batman has been improved to accommodate this. Controlling Batman is still limited to three basic areas, running, jumping and gliding. Running and jumping are fairly self-explanatory but gliding has been improved immensely. You are no longer limited to gliding slowly to the ground as you can now push R1 to dive bomb straight down for either a devastating attack, or; using the momentum, swooping up to glide even greater distances. It feels genuinely exhilarating to soar through the derelict alleyways of Arkham city, and is even used quite fiendishly in a few of the games puzzles.
Frequently you will find your explorations halted by a combat situation, and thanks to the classic Assassins Creed inspired engine you will find that this never becomes a problem. One button on the pad is used to attack enemies head on, while another is used to counter any attacking enemies. The other buttons enable you to stun or jump away from enemies but do no actual damage. However once you figure out what you are doing you will be able to string together brutal combinations that will open up Batman's amazing repartee of knockout attacks and leave you feeling like the world's greatest martial artist.
Thankfully this is tempered with those sections designed to make you feel like the world's greatest detective also. Once again Batman's cowl comes with a special gadget to enable his 'detective mode'. This sort of gives him a night vision perspective, while a tiny computer in his mask analyses different things in the environment (blood, fingerprints, even bullet trajectories) and sends the info straight to the batcomputer. It may seem illogical to a casual observer but this is the Batman experience and so must be taken with a grain of salt. Nevertheless locating a bullet and figuring out where it came from is an atmospheric, and highly satisfying experience.
It is this atmosphere that makes Arkham City the worthy sequel that it is. Arkham Asylum may have been an excellent personal story for Batman, but Arkham City offers a much grander look at the actual world Batman inhabits; including his classic roster of villains. It is a credit to the talents of writer Paul Dini (Batman the Animated series) that he can almost cram in Batman's entire rogues gallery without his story feeling rushed. I do not want to spoil any of the surprise encounters, but needless to say, any Batman fans out there are in for a treat.
Graphically this means that you are in for an atmospheric tour d force of the Batman mythos. The city itself is set in three distinct sections where the three big villains (Joker, Two Face, and Penguin) fight for control of the city. As you move freely through these sections you will find the décor changing to reflect the man in charge, and this even includes the dress of the street thugs you encounter. So while you may find yourself in a noirish urban environment to begin with, you could quite easily find yourself wondering into the bright lights of Jokers domain and the change of scenery this entails. Either way the game looks fantastic with a draw distance going right out to Arkham Island and very little in the way of glitches or popup.
The graphics though are just a sample of the atmosphere this game has to offer as once again the sound team have done a phenomenal job. Returning voice actors such as Kevin Conroy (Batman) and the legendary Mark Hamill (The Joker) do an even better job in this one than the first game and show that same chemistry that made their efforts in Batman The Animated series so enjoyable. Most of the cast of the first game return and are joined by some all new cast members, including a barely recognisable Nolan North whose cockney penguin was both intimidating and entertaining in equal measures.
So that is the main game but what can you expect in the way of extras? Well there are around 9 major side quests with their own storylines, some of which are worth doing for the teasing glimpses they offer into a potential third entry. Included among them is once again a hunt for The Riddler. Do you remember desperately trying to solve all of his riddles in the first game? Well you will be pleased to hear that he is back with a challenge so epic it manages to dwarf the main game itself. There are around 436 Riddler challenges in this game, and solving them all will often require thinking outside the box with Batman's abilities. Plus there are some disturbing surprises in store for you as you find more and more of his trophies.
The key extra though is a 2nd playable character in Catwoman. Her story is available for free to anyone purchasing the game brand new, and is available to purchase from the PSN market place for a few pounds. It is worth having too, as seeing Catwoman's perspective opens up the story better, and gives you new gameplay challenges due to her very different abilities. Besides, if you want to beat The Riddler again then you will need Catwoman as there are certain trophies only she can retrieve.
Lastly there is a return to the challenge rooms from the first game. These are basically a separate section with 2 different gameplay elements. One has you simply fight waves of enemies to pile up combos and try to beat the high scores. The other a series of 'predator' campaigns where you are alone in a room full of armed enemies that you must stealthily take out from the roof tops. Credits are awarded for taking them out in prespecified ways. Both of these modes return from the first game and it is as cool as ever to string enemies up from a gargoyle. Sadly you do have to accept that they do not offer you anything new. If it aint broke don't fix it is a good philosophy, but with around 200 of these rooms they can try your patience. I did not finish them all, but the fact remains they are an optional extra and so if you can do them then the length of this already fairly long game is extended further. If you are willing to pay a little extra then you can further delay boredom by doing these challenges with extra downloadable characters Robin and Nightwing (who the first Robin grew into) who each have a different move set. So one charge you could never lay against the game is that it does not offer value for money!
So any fears I originally had about this game have been allayed. The story is amazing and flows nicely due to the fact that you can do the sidequests after finishing it. The sidequests are all entertaining and different, and there are plenty of extra game modes to compete for your time. It is worth 40 bucks of anyone's money, and is definitely better than the first.
Summary: It is worth 40 bucks of anyone's money, and is definitely better than the first.