Review by vgplaya89
"The Dark Knight Returns, Triumphantly I might add."
In 2009, little-known British game development studio Rocksteady Games released a game that raised the bar for not only Batman video games, but the superhero game genre in general, Batman: Arkham Asylum. The game sold well, went on to become critically acclaimed, and proved that superhero games can be great, if executed correctly.
Two years later, the long-awaited sequel is finally here, and Batman is bigger and better than ever. Rocksteady not only raised the bar with this iteration, they knocked it out of the ballpark.
Story: The game begins a while after Batman: Arkham Asylum. The most run-down section of Gotham City has been turned into a large-scale prison for its criminals to run amok in. conditions are extremely poor, Batman's rogues gallery is dividing and conquering territory quite swiftly, and Bruce Wayne has been thrown into the chaos mysteriously; now it's up to Batman to get to the bottom of the true, sinister nature of Arkham City, and whos pulling the strings.
The story of the game is pretty well done. Many recognizable characters on both sides of the Batman mythos are along for the ride, along with a few surprises here and there. The main storyline is a rollercoaster of twists and turns that will shock and surprise you right up to a gripping conclusion, that even longtime Batman fans would never see coming.
Sound: The stellar voice acting will sound quite familiar to longtime Batman fans, as many of the voice actors from Batman: The Animated Series reprise their iconic roles. Kevin Conroy returns as Bruce/Batman, Mark Hamill proves that despite Heath Ledger's stellar performance in The Dark Knight, Hamill and his terrifying laugh are still in the running for the title of Best Joker Ever. Also, Harley Quinn's voice is still as cringe worthy as its always been (in a good way).
The music of the game fit's the dark tone and atmosphere, and never seems out of place, at any point in the game.
Gameplay: Despite the polish in every other aspect of the game, the gameplay is still the high point of Batman's latest adventure. You once again step in the shoes and don the cowl of the titular character. Adding a little variety to the adventure is the occasional addition of Catwoman as a playable character (provided you purchase the game new, or buy a download code separately if purchased used.).
Batman controls fluidly, to the point where even novices will be free running and gliding across the rooftops of Arkham City with ease. The game gives you tons of variety in its missions, ranging from simple exploration, to stealthily dispatching rooms of foes, or straight up hand-to-hand combat.
In stealth sections, you need to take out enemies one by one, using your wits, and the gadgets at your disposal. Batman may be an amazing tactician, but he's only human, so knives and guns are still going to do him quite some damage. So instead of going Rambo, you need to approach these sections with caution, and think on your feet.
In hand to hand sections, timing and knowing how to counter are everything, especially when you're going up against groups of ten or more thugs, all trying to kill you. Thankfully Batman has enough martial arts skills in his repertoire to make you feel sorry for the enemies you end up kicking in the face. And in completing these scenarios, you get experience points that you can use to level up, and upgrade your skills.
If you ever get worn out on the main storyline, or want to take your time (It is admittedly short, clocking in at around 8 hours) , there are plenty of side missions and secrets to find in Arkham City. They can be just as entertaining as the main story, and throw a few surprises at you. There are also Riddler Trophies hidden throughout the world, that unlock bonuses such as concept art, character models, and even challenge maps that you can take on, at your leisure. Bottom line, there is quite a lot of game here, and it will keep you busy, long after the ending has passed.
For those that are not fans of the hero loses all his powers at the start of the sequel video game cliche, fear not, you start off with all of the gadgets you gained over the course of Arkham Asylum' and you are definitely going to need them, to explore every nook and cranny of Arkham City. You will also get even more gadgets to mess around with, and even apply to combat situations.
Batman: Arkham City does what every good sequel should do: takes the groundwork laid in the original, and improves and expands on it, in every conceivable way. is not only the best Batman game to date, but it may also be the best superhero game to date, period. And even if you're not into superheroes, this game is definitely worth a look, especially if you're into Zelda-style Action/Adventure games, or the Metroid-Vania sub-genre of action/adventure games.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/28/11
Game Release: Batman: Arkham City (US, 10/18/11)
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