Well, one of the most anticipated games of the year was released today, Batman Arkham City. As far as game play goes, Arkham City picks up right where Arkham Asylum left off. So far, I only have a couple extremely small gripes about the game. Other than those things the game is INCREDIBLE! Lets get to it. Warning – minor spoilers ahead
The story of Arkham City is villains galore. It seems almost every Batman villain makes an appearance within the first 10 minutes of the game. Of course, Batman is confronted by them in the mega prison of Arkham City since he’s one that put them all there. The story follows Bruce Wayne as he runs for political office in the beginning with a political platform of shutting down Arkham City since its inmate population has grown more dangerous and chaotic. Bruce is then captured by what appears to be a SWAT team and sent to the prison himself. It’s all part of a plot involving Dr. Hugo Strange and how he knows the true identity of Batman. Once Bruce is in Arkham City though shit really hits the fan as no prison can hold Batman. Of course, The Joker is pretty much running the show inside the prison as he controls most of the inmate population. Rumors are running wild amongst the inmates that The Joker is sick but they remain loyal to him regardless as he plans to take care of the Batman once and for all.
Graphics and Sound
Um, pretty bad ass, pretty bad ass. The graphics are dark and detailed and bring the sprawling Arkham City to life. All of the villains are just as dark and sinister as they were in Arkham Asylum. Two Face even smacks around the ladies a little in this game which definitely conveyed to me that the gloves are off, they’re going all out. I’m playing this game on the PS3 and I chose that platform due to the slight edge it has graphically over the Xbox 360. The games sound is perfect. Every thud and crunch of Batman’s fist impacting one of Jokers thugs in the face or ribs is solid and detailed. The sound takes the combat in the game to another level entirely. Every punch, crash, and scream makes for a satisfying feel to the combat and action.
The game play of Arkham City is identical to Arkham Asylum. The third person over the shoulder perspective is intact with a controllable camera angle. Combos can be achieved during fight sequences and points can be earned to upgrade Batman’s armor and weapons. The game is a sandbox with side missions and challenges that can be played at the gamers leisure at any point in the game. There are objectives given but there’s certainly no rush to proceed with the story if you want to adventure around a little.
One nice detail is that the all important detective mode has been held in check in this game. In Arkham Asylum gamers basically had to stay in detective mode the entire time just to get through the story. In Arkham City it’s saved for certain situations as the game prompts you to switch to detective mode as needed. You can go in and out of it when ever you want but it’s not entirely necessary to go back and forth with it constantly as you progress through the game. The look of detective mode was also tweaked a little as you can see more detail in your surroundings instead of just X-ray vision and wire frame objects.
All of Batman’s utilities are back with the same controls. Bat-a-rangs, explosive foam, and the Bat Claw are once again at your disposal. Batman can glide with the help of his cape which is extremely handy in this game to traverse long distances quickly. I found using the Bat Claw to pull me up to high up vantage points for a quick look around and then gliding over to where I needed to go worked well to get around the map quick. There are Bat Claw grip points EVERYWHERE so even if you start to get overwhelmed by thugs in a fight you can always Bat Claw your ass out of there to regroup and figure out a new plan of attack.
I know, how dare I even point out such menial things when the overall final product is so perfect but I couldn’t help but be slightly annoyed by just a few small things. First, Batman wants to grab and climb everything, EVERYTHING! It can be a little frustrating to get him to let go of a ladder or to drop down off of a platform. A little patience will help you over come the initial touchy-ness of the controls.
Speaking of controls, I’m not a huge fan of the PS3 remote for the control scheme of this game. The more loose and wobbly joysticks of the PS3 controller can get a little frustrating as well as they make you over control your movements on the screen. For example, if you want to turn and look to your left or right quickly it’s much easier to turn too far or even spin completely around when using the PS3 dual joysticks. The Xbox 360 controller with its shorter and tighter joysticks are much easier to use for this games more precise movements. As I progressed in the game though I eventually got used to the PS3 controller as it just takes a little extra finis. My final complaint is about the running and jumping controls. Since Batman only has two speeds, walking and running, you just press and hold the run button to make him run. But jumping or lunging also uses the same button if you press it only once. So, if you’re not careful you will find yourself lunging all over the place when you want to run and running when you want to lunge. Again, something that is quickly overcome when you get used to the controls.
Overall, Arkham City is ridiculously bad ass. The gripes gamers had about things in Arkham Asylum are addressed in Arkham City and it’s all for the best. Aside from my minor complaints about the controls the game is near perfect. If you haven’t bought it yet I recommend purchasing it for the 360 as the controller just feels better for this kind of game. Of course, this game will have to get reviewed all over again next year when it’s released for the WiiU. You can bet there will be some interesting and unique game play features that incorporate the WiiU’s tablet controller. I think we might see a whole new way of using detective mode when the WiiU version is released.