Review by horror_spooky
"The legend ends"
I thought Arkham Asylum was over-rated. I would go as far as to call it the most over-rated game of this entire generation. To me, it was just a high quality licensed games, though nothing remarkable. It was still good, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't the best game of the year, or even the month, as many people were claiming it to be. As such, I went into Arkham City somewhat skeptical, but by the end of the game, I was completely blown away. Batman: Arkham City is my Game of the Year for 2011, and it's, to date, the best licensed video game ever made.
Batman: Arkham City also happens to tell one of the grandest Batman stories ever penned as well. The game manages to feature a huge cast of villains and heroes and original characters, yet also manages to make each one of them seem incredibly important to the overall storyline. Thanks to the way video games tell stories as a medium, even minor characters can be given enough time to be developed in a satisfying way, mainly through side-missions. Every plotline for every side-mission also tells a very awesome side-story. The main storyline deals with Arkham City, a section of Gotham that has been quarantined and stuffed with the most dangerous inmates from Arkham Asylum, to let them run wild without having to worry about them hurting innocent people. Suffice to say, Batman has an issue with this experiment, so he enters Arkham City to discover its secrets and save Gotham.
Whereas Arkham Asylum was a cramped environment, Arkham City provides plenty of room to explore. The side-missions are thrown at you in a natural manner that makes them truly feel like an integral part of the overall experience. Thanks to Batman's awesome gliding capabilities and grappling hook, exploring is also a lot of fun. I had a blast just zipping around the city and exploring the sights.
The rest of the game takes a lot of the good with Arkham Asylum, and then cranks it up by ten. There are more gadgets, more compelling platforming segments, and very brilliant gameplay mechanics that I dare not spoil, as they are best experienced firsthand to truly understand how awesome they are. I won't go too deeply into the core mechanics of the game as I talked about them a lot in my review for Arkham Asylum, but rest assured that Arkham City retains the third-person adventure/stealth hybrid introduced in Arkham Asylum, but presents it in a much more polished and overall better way. Combat is still amazing, and reason alone to give this game a shot.
Arkham City features gorgeous visuals, with highly detailed environments, and perfectly created character models. Texture pop-in is occasionally an issue, but never to the point that it detracts from the experience or the atmosphere. There is no slowdown, save for when the game is saving or loading a new area, and the presentation is top-notch. The game is a love letter to the Batman universe, featuring the voice actors that worked on the beloved Batman: The Animated Series, as well as plenty of references that only diehard fans will get, as well as hints to the future of the series.
Besides the main game and side-missions, Arkham City has plenty of other features to explore. There is an arena-style fighting mode that allows you to play as different characters besides Batman, with each character feeling genuinely different than the others. There is also a new game+, encouraging you to go back through the game, which is almost always a good feature to include in your game. Speaking of other characters, if you purchase the game new, you are granted access to the Catwoman DLC that was available on day one. While it's not necessarily a required part of the story, Catwoman's levels feel entirely different than Batman's, prompting players to use new strategies and take advantage of Catwoman's unique gadgets and weapons.
Batman: Arkham City is one of the best video games released this generation. The plot is told masterfully, the voice acting is perfect (though I did find Batman's voice to be somewhat dull at times), and the graphics are as well. The gameplay is top-notch, beautifully implemented, and this should appeal to all gamers. Arkham City is a breathtaking accomplishment, well worth your money and your time. I thought Arkham Asylum was a great game, but Arkham City far exceeds its predecessor in every way possible.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/23/12
Game Release: Batman: Arkham City (US, 10/18/11)
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