Review by Arrowsedge89

Reviewed: 10/18/11

Spoiler-free review for the Dark Knight of video games

Does the sequel live up to it's first game? Let's find out shall we.. I got this game early and I raced home like I was it was my last day on earth. I then locked my door, shut the blinds, and turned off my phone so that I could give my full attention to the dark knight and this is my experience of the game. Now take note that I am a big Batman fan, but I am going to judge this game fairly and not let my fandom get in my way. I am of-course going to break this down into classic review style because well that's the best way to do things so let's begin...

Graphics 10/10 - The game is gorgeous and couldn't possibly be more crisp to an overshadowed nightly Arkham City. The city is very detailed and impressive. So detailed that I often found myself off the beaten path just to find all kinds of things. I wanted to look at every little thing and find every minuscule detail. I wanted to breath in the atmosphere and truly Rocksteady did Batman justice a second time with this because you can see the passion when you look around at the detailed environments. You can see the efforts put into the models and the city. These guys truly know exactly what they are doing and they are doing it well. The game is eye candy and boy is there a full helping here. The architecture is so on key that it's uncanny. You feel immersed in this world and you just keep getting more and more. The thing is in most games, you just get part of the game looking simply amazing and then you get a part of the game that just looks either generic or just not up to par with the other par, but in this game let me say that every part is amazing in it's quality. Your costumes rip and tear with the signs of battle throughout the game much like the first which is still a nice little detail. The graphics hold up across the board. The villains all look the part and the models of the villains and everything as a whole is just stunning. Overall the game is jaw dropping throughout no matter if your outside chasing down riddles across the vast city of if you inside doing some of the story, it all is amazing in the graphics department.

Sound - 10/10 - This section of the game doesn't give way a bit either. Every little bit of detail and effort seen from graphics also travels over to this as well because you can tell how much care went into the game just by opening your ears and letting all amazing sounds fill them. Joker's laugh is just as creepy and haunting in this one than ever before. Of-course Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy steal the show once again with their amazing voice talents, but there are many other amazing voice talents scattered throughout that I just couldn't possibly think of one thing that just wasn't amazing in this area. Apart from all the amazing popular batman character voice talents, you also have plenty of random thugs talking it up in Gotham City that you will hear often which isn't particularly amazing, but it helps make the city feel more real and it is there to immerse you even deeper into the game. Another thing that is outstanding in this game is the score within the game. The soundtrack fits Batman very well and plays out very well throughout. It is intense when it needs to be and keeps the pace of the game. However, another amazing aspect of the game that is actually a little surprising is that if you want some nostalgia, then you can put your batman soundtracks in the game. Yes, you heard me right.. This game has a custom soundtrack option! So if you want to play the 1980s movie soundtrack, then you can do so to your hearts content. Overall, I cannot find a single thing wrong with this. It's more than what I could ask for and even surprised me with the customary option it gave me. Very pleased with this.

Controls - 10/10 They feel quite similar to the first game. They are very responsive and will get you through combat with ease. However if you are not familiar with the first game and some of the new aspects of the controlling then you may feel out of place for a few minutes until you learn it all. After you learn the controls though, you will be dancing circles around the common thugs and taking on the bosses with ease. You will find yourself able to maneuver about the environment pretty easily and that can be said as you transition from The Bat to The Cat.. Both Batman and Catwoman control exceptional and no matter which one you are playing, you will feel completely in control once you have it down. The controls felt even better in this game than they did in the first one and I can't pinpoint why. Maybe it was the combat being better or maybe it was just the overall feel of the combat. Overall, I really don't think the controls are going to be a problem. You will get used to them and they will become second nature as your flying throughout Gotham.

Game-play 9/10 - The game-play is the main attraction of any game and this game delivers it. You would think expanding the world to a bigger environment and making it more roaming around would may hamper and perhaps take the game-play down a notch because well lets face it, most games that have a roaming open world have some flaw in some manner. This one however doesn't seem to suffer from any flaws. The only thing that I run into that takes a dive is there is some screen tearing within the game, but to me the unmatchable quality of the game and game-play just makes it really not that noticeable at all. Some gamers are different, but don't let something so small draw you away from such a rich game that has such a very high quality to it. Rocksteady really did wonders with the first game, but this one is just tailored so much more perfectly. The first one really got Batman down to him as a whole and his character. The first one made you feel like you were Batman. In this sequel it's just so much more than that. It's everything the first one was and so many other things on top of that. You truly feel badass as Batman when you go lurking in the shadows just taking out thugs one by one with stealth and them not having a clue what is going on before it's too late. Or just flying from a rooftop and throwing down with a large group of enemies and showing them whats what is amazing.

The flying in this game is top notch. You really feel like Batman as you glide throughout the city. You can fly through the city without ever touching the ground and that is amazing. Gliding is not overly complicated. It works very well and not only does it give you some breath-taking views of the city and gives you an advantage over the thugs as you can really plan on what you want to do. Batman has lots of new tricks up his sleeve. New gadgets to fight with in combat and plenty of new fluid moves to beat up enemies with. The countering feels more fleshed out and now you can counter more than one enemy at a time and it all looks absolutely amazing as you do it. Combat feels also more satisfying with it feeling more badass to be Batman and just beat the hell out of a crowd of enemies and take them out with even more ease. It's more action packed and just feels so perfect and impactful. Arkham Asylum was an awesome game, but this one feels completely different in a sense of how it works. The first game really had alot going for it in terms of the story and all the effort in quality. That is here in Arkham City as well, but in this one it feels more open. It has much more scattered throughout. You want to take a break from the main story and go find something else to do? No problem at all. You have TONS of riddles to solve as both Bats and Catwoman.

I won't spoil how they work, but many of the riddles have a different feel to them and are completely different than how they worked before. Some of the riddles can even bring the demise of Batman.. Yes, some can actually spell game over.. They are even more challenging and it's going to take you several hours to hunt them all down since there is over 400 different ones! Don't want to do riddles just yet? Then go and do one of the many side missions in the game. I won't spoil any of it though so you will have to check that out on your own. The game just has so much more to do that it can feel a little overwhelming at first, but once you figure out what you want to do and how you want to go about doing it and realize that your freakin' Batman and don't have to worry about such trivial stuff, you will get immersed in this game and then look at the clock and realize it just somehow took 2 hours away from your life, but that's okay because you didn't waste it that is for sure. You will find yourself multi-tasking many different missions at once and again, may feel a tad bit overwhelming, but you can't say that there is nothing for you to do because the game is packed with always something for you to do and even when you finish the game and feel like you conquered the game and beat so much of it, chances are you are going to figure out that you really only completed a little bit of the game. When I finished the game, I did so much stuff but I apparently didn't even do half of the content! That's okay because you also have a new game plus now and it's awesome.

You can go through the game a second time and the enemies will be even harder, but at-least you will have all your stuff carried over from the last game to help you beat down the harder enemies. We even have a second playable character. Of-course, that being Catwoman. You often switch to Catwoman (If you have the provided DLC) right after something happened within the game and you pick up as her. She plays differently enough from Batman. She has her own set of challenges she can do and her own little arc within the main story. You would think this would be intrusive to the main story, but it's not and it's actually very interesting and fun to take a breather from Batman and be able to play as Catwoman. It's awesome being Bats, but with Catwoman it's a little breath of fresh air here and there. She moves around the environment differently than Batman. She has her own array of weapons and form of getting around. Roughly I think she only has around 10% of the game and even though she plays very differently and uniquely to her character and stays true to it, she plays just as fluid and has the same quality overall as Batman has. Overall the game-play is top notch. It tells a very awesome story with many plot twists and turns. It's amazing in what it does and stays completely true to it's world that it has come from. Batman has a long history and Rocksteady has truly tailored this game to Batman's history and the world surrounding him. Everything to his paramount villains, to the dark world around him. In most open games you can pick apart the game-play, but in this game, it just doesn't falter. The foundation is more than solid and the care shown by the developers is so huge that it makes this game a must have whether you are a Batman fan or not.

Re-playability - The truth is that the main story is about 12-15 hours long, but that is JUST for the main story. The riddles alone are going to take you dozens of hours to complete and the side missions are going to do the same. If you was to complete the riddles, challenges, and side missions, you could easily be looking at a game that could span anywhere from 30-60 hours depending on how much you game and how familiar you are with gaming. Not to mention the new game plus adds an immense amount of re-playability in itself. You are getting 3 or 4 more times over the amount of game you got in the first one and that is saying alot considering just how awesome the first game was. This is certainly a game I feel I will go back to time and time again. The combat doesn't feel old to me and there is just so many ways to approach everything you have so much strategy you can play. The quality is just so top notch and high up there that it can compete with the best of games. This is truly a game to keep and certainly have in your collection.

Rent or buy - Sure you can rent it and you will probably be able to go through the story and beat the story in a fair amount of time within the rental period especially with the likes of gamefly, but if you are only renting it, you are not getting the full experience and quality out of the game. There is so much more to explore and do that it just doesn't end with the main story. If you stop there, you are missing out on a more immersible and amazing experience. You will miss out on so much to see and do that are simply amazing that is away from the story. You may just regret only doing the main story and then taking it back. Gamefly does give anyone the ability to keep it longer and experience everything, but I just feel this is something that a gamer must own. If you want to own quality and something really took alot of effort and thinking. Something that many people put alot into, then this is the game you will want to have in your collection. That's all I can say.

Overall - Kicking ass as Batman in this game can stand the test of time for sure. The satisfaction of kicking someone in the face or even more than thug at a time just says something to me. It says that I can't wait to do that again. The level of immersion of the game is a true unmatchable standard. The quality in all areas is unmistakably staggering and the sheer amount of content packed into this game is unbelievable. Rocksteady pulled out all the stops and proved to us that not only can you make one amazing game, but you can come back and match that quality and set the bar so much more higher than that. When we got Arkham Asylum and experienced it, we thought "Wow, this is awesome. There is no way it can get any better than this". What does Rocksteady do? They take that statement and they show you they can. Arkham Asylum is still amazing and if you haven't played it, go play that first because it will make you even appreciate this game even more. I may be a big Batman fan and I know the ins and outs of the Batman universe and this game does do it justice and then some, but as a gamer, it truly shines in that aspect as well. I am a fan of Batman, but I am also a big fan of games that are quality and you can't go no higher than this. Overall I give this game a 10 out of 10 for knocking everything out of the park and showing us that sequels can live up to the first game. Good job Rocksteady!

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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

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