Batman: Arkham City
I’m going to let you in on a little secret about myself. I’ve never read comic books despite my love for science fiction and computers. I have a basic understanding of who the main superheroes are but when you ask me stuff about the DC or Marvel Universe I’ll probably just give you a blank stare. Luckily, you don’t have to be a hardcore comic book fan to enjoy Batman: Arkham City, the sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum.
The first game, Arkham Asylum, took place on an island where a large prison was built for the worst of the worst criminals. The Joker was the main villain and using Batman’s gadgets you aimed to thwart his plan, meeting many of the other popular criminals along the way like Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Bane, and Killer Croc. If you don’t know who any of those people are, not to worry, both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City come with extras like character bios. Arkham City has a much, much larger cast. Robin, Oracle (Batgirl / Barbara Gordon), Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Bane, Joker, Harley Quinn, Mr. Freeze, Vicki Vale, and a few others I haven’t heard of before all make appearances. I haven’t finished the game but it doesn’t appear any of the villains I just listed is the main villain. A person by the name of Hugo Strange seems to be running the show and has a secret plan which he announces the countdown to but the player won’t find out what that plan is until later in the game.
Arkham City takes place after the events of Arkham Asylum. The warden of Arkham Asylum , Quincy Sharp, ends up becoming mayor, buys out a large portion of Gotham City’s slums, and moves all of the criminals from Arkham Asylum and other dangerous facilities to those slums later dubbed Arkham City. Gotham City itself becomes warped with corruption and anyone who crosses the mayor is sent to Arkham City. Arkham City’s facilities are run by one Hugo Strange and a military firm called Tyger Security. In the beginning, we’re treated to Bruce Wayne (Batman) being taken prisoner while speaking out against the existence of Arkham City. He’s thrown into the general population of the new, giant prison. We also learn that Hugo Strange knows that Bruce Wayne really is Batman but keeps it secret for unknown reasons. The player also takes control of Catwoman from time to time and has her own subplot.
The game takes place on one large map with various waypoints listed to guide the player to the next objective, similar to the Grand Theft Auto games. Side missions are available which may or may not have waypoints depending on your progress in that particular side mission. Some side missions span over the course of the game. For example, Zsasz: The Phone Booth Killer, will call random payphones throughout Arkham City. When Batman picks it up, he’s instructed by Zsasz to get to the next ringing phone before the time limit expires. When he does, Zsasz talks for a while which opens a mini-game where you have to keep your cursor over the signal to trace the call as it bounces from phone to phone on your map. The progress bar at the bottom fills up but it takes multiple calls for it to completely fill up. When the call is over, you can go back to doing whatever you were previously doing until you stumble on the next payphone that decides to ring.
Like Arkham Asylum, hidden Riddler trophies and puzzles are scattered throughout the game. Most of these are behind hidden walls and areas that require a particular gadget to get to. Other puzzles appear in the form of riddles and you have to take a picture of the answer to that riddle which is somewhere in that room. Answering these riddles and finding the trophies give you experience to leveling up to improve your arsenal. If you’re not someone who enjoys exploring and thinking too hard, not to worry, you also gain experience through combat among other means.
The combat formula stayed pretty much the same. Using the attack button toward the direction of an enemy causes Batman to randomly use various moves against that person. You don’t have to memorize key strokes or button combinations to pull off awesome moves; Batman does that automatically. Often, you fly from enemy to enemy using the attack button and on occasion have to use counters. You can also use your gadgets to help you out, whether it’s the Batclaw, Explosive Gel, Smoke Pellets, and etc. It’s all refreshingly smooth and satisfying to take out an entire armada of whatever gang of thugs you’re up against, whether they belong to Penguin, Two-Face, Joker, or one of the many other villains locked up in Arkham City.
The plot is excellent. You don’t have to be a Batman expert to appreciate the story, although those that are will appreciate how much content is in the game along with who all shows up to make cameos. I am thoroughly enjoying myself having never read a DC comic book in my life.
The game was released for the XBox 360, Playstation 3, and PC. The PC version was delayed but was just recently released. There is currently an issue with DirectX 11 so make sure you disable that in your options menu before playing. Will the graphics suffer with DirectX 11 disabled? You tell me.
As always, when purchasing a game on the PC, check the system requirements before purchasing.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can view video play sessions here: