Review by BigReed

"The Best Interpretation of the Batman Universe"

Introduction

Batman: Arkham City is a sequel to the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady the developer behind these two games is back again, but this time with a game that is improved in every single aspect over their previous Batman experience. Licensed based games are normally quick “cash ins” for a movie or television show counterpart. But with Batman: AC, Rocksteady was able to craft their own interpretation of Batman's universe, rather than loosely basing it off of the two recent theatrical movies. I personally believe this is what gave them the edge. Rocksteady has created a video game with costumed characters, in an unbelievable world, and somehow manages to make it seem possible.

After Wolverine, Batman is my next favorite comic book hero. I feel that both characters are complex. Both are powerful, yet vulnerable. Both characters feel fleshed out, and seem like believable people. In Batman: AC, we see the best interpretation of the Batman universe in film and video games.

Gameplay

Batman: AC plays and controls much like Arkham Asylum. But one thing you will notice is that the game takes place in an open city, rather than in a single area. AA was by no means a small game, but in AC the player is able to get the full Batman experience by gliding around the city in a much larger scale. During my play through of AC there were times when I did not want to play in “detective mode” which allows Batman to see objects of interest, and thugs and goons highlighted in orange, because the game and environments were amazing.

Batman: AC is broken down into story objectives and side quests. Pressing select opens up your “batmap”, and allows you to set waypoints to objectives as well as custom waypoints. This made navigation of Arkham City easy and enjoyable. Batman is also able to “fast travel” by obtaining the grapnel gun upgrade, which I highly suggest acquiring as soon as possible. All of the side missions felt just as important as the story missions. They are not fetch quests, or go here and come back quests. Every side quest is tailored to is respected villain. So Batman will be tapping telephones, fighting goons, and finding clues at crime scenes to close the case on the many villains in this game.

The combat system is pretty much the same as in AA. You punch, counter, and use gadgets and finishing moves to subdue large amounts of enemies. You have to be careful though, button mashing the “X” button will allows the enemies to swarm Batman and kill him. The system is simple to execute, yet easy to mess up on. I was also glad to see the stealth portions still intact. Moving around in the shadows and silently taking out bad guys is still my favorite portion of the game. Boss battles make a return, but these times are much more interesting. Certain boss battles have the player thinking quickly on the spot and using strategy as well as quick execution to complete. At no point did I ever feel like being Batman in this game was a chore.

Story

Batman: AC was able to do something crazy. It takes a comic book universe, translates it to a video game, and somehow makes everything feel believable. Comic books and their stories can sometimes get a bit out of hand. As a fan of them myself, I have had to take a step back from what I've read because it was so off the wall. However, Rocksteady was able to craft a story that is exciting, interesting, believable, and engrossing; all with a comic book license. The story missions and objectives are all well written and well acted (voice acting). I was on the edge of my seat till the very end, and watched the credits all the way through as they slowly panned up the screen.

Very few video game stories hook me in like a good movie can. But Batman: AC is definitely one of those games.

Graphics/Sound

Gritty, dark, and dangerous; this is how Batman: AC looks and sounds. All of the voice acting is well done. All of the characters and environments look realistic (comic book realistic) and great. I never had a graphical glitch. I am not going to spend much more time in this category because Batman: AC looks and sounds amazing. Nothing in this department stood out in a negative manner during my time with this game.

Play Time/Replayability

Batman: AC is a game that is not short, but also does not overstay its welcome. On my first play through I clocked in about 15-18 hours. I completed and closed out roughly half of all the side missions, and had the others completed to some degree. I plan on going back and finishing all of the side missions mainly because the game made them so damn fun.

There is also a New Game Plus option, which I think is one of the smartest things a developer can add to a game. You are able to carry over everything you have done, with all of the upgrades and equipment, but this time the game will be tougher, allowing players who like a challenge to go back through and enjoy the experience all over again with a higher degree of difficulty.

Final Recommendation

I know that with the score I am giving this game, there will probably be a bit of raging. Too many people go into video games with a preset bias because of the popularity or attention a certain game is receiving. The worst thing a gamer could do is judge a video game before they play it. Whether it be renting, borrowing, or buying; I highly recommend playing this game. I will leave the debate of the word “perfect” to the message boards, but in my opinion, this is as good as a video game can be.

Thank you for reading my review!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/25/11

Game Release: Batman: Arkham City (US, 10/18/11)


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