It’s difficult to believe that Rocksteady could improve on one of the best superhero games ever made, Batman: Arkham Asylum. Well, they definitely did. Even though Batman: Arkham City isn’t as fresh and original as its predecessor, it does improve on a lot of things.
There is a ton of stuff to do in Arkham City. As Batman, you must travel around to complete side quests, find Riddler trophies, complete Riddler puzzles, and progress through the main storyline.
Although at first glance it may appear to be, Batman: Arkham City is not really an open world game. Even with a large amount of things to do within the city, it felt like a hub to get from point A to point B. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s fun to fly and zip line through the city, and you truly do feel like Batman.
Much like the previous game, Batman: Arkham City has one of the best combat systems for a game of its genre. There is a large variety of enemies that make it much more than a button masher. For your basic enemies, you will simply attack and counter their attacks. With more advanced enemies, you will have to do things such as stun and punch, jump and kick, jump over and attack from behind, etc. Thanks to the the large variety of enemies, especially towards the end, this game is not a walk in the park.
Batman has a ton of accessories and gadgets to play with as well. I don’t want to spoil too much, but a few of the basic ones included: Batarang, hacking tool, and weapon jammer. There are MANY more that you will discover. Many of these gadgets are unlocked by story progression, however some require experience points. You gain experience by defeating enemies and completing missions. You can spend these points on upgrades for the batsuit, gadgets, combos, and Catwoman. I didn’t like that there was no separation in experience points for Batman and Catwoman. Basically, you will gain most experience as Batman, but need to remember to put points into improving Catwoman as well.
There is a great amount of variety and pacing in the gameplay as well. During some missions, you will go in and just fight everyone. During others, taking a stealthy approach may be a better idea. The only thing i found to be repetitive in the game would be clearing out big rooms, when the enemies were equipped with guns. This usually resulted in getting one enemy isolated, drop down and do a silent takedown; rinse and repeat.
If you buy the game new, you get access to the Catwoman missions. There are a total of four of these missions, spread throughout the game, where you will play as Catwoman. She plays very similar to Batman, except she has fewer abilities. Although she seemed to tie into the game pretty well, playing as her was my least favorite part of the game.
The graphics are top notch in Arkham City. The city itself looks great as you are gliding and running through it. The animations during combat look superb, and the sounds of the punches during combat are ever so satisfying. Although the game isn’t pushing limits in any way, it is pleasing to the eye and does not disappoint graphically.
The game also features a 3D mode. Anyone with a pair of standard 3D colored glasses (No 3DTV required), can try it out. It’s kind of neat just to try it out for a few minutes, but the color of your lenses will end up annoying you. I don’t expect anyone to really use this feature rather than just to try it once. There didn’t appear to be a stereoscopic 3D option.
I attempted to install the game to my hard drive to improve on load times. It installed, but wouldn’t load from there. I did a 100% install of the 7.8GB on the single disc, and everything was fine. After, i tried to start the game and was greeted by a black screen, a spinning disc, and a frozen console. I attempted to start it multiple times and failed, so I uninstalled the game and it worked fine.
This game is a blast to play until the end. If you just want to go through the game and experience the story, it will take you around 10 hours. It will take even longer if you decide to do the side missions. After you complete the game, there is a New Game + option, where you can restart the game from the beginning (which will also be more challenging than the original play through) with your upgraded batman. The chances are, you will want to hop right back in after completing your first play through.
There are also challenge levels to complete, which can add countless hours of replay value. These are pretty similar to the ones from the original game. You can do stealth or combat challenge rooms and try and get a high score by doing well in them. There are leaderboards associated with them, so you can compete with others.
Batman: Arkham City is the best superhero game available, it is a perfect example of how a license should be used in a game. It’s not quite as open world as I would have liked, but it is polished to near perfection.