Review by dead_assassin

"Is Arkham City Really as Good as They Say?"

Batman has been around a long time, not just in video games. Seeing Adam West (who is now the mayor in Family Guy) donning the cape and cowl, along side Robin a long time ago. Then seeing Michael Keaton donning the bat gear along side Jack Nicholson as The Joker. Many celebrities have donned the Bat Suit, from George Clooney, Val Kilmer and (my favorite) Christian Bale. The first Batman game I played was on the NES. I admit, I loved it. The music, the graphics, the gameplay, they were all outstanding for the time. It was a very difficult game for a kid to play and very frustrating, but it was fun enough to want to play again and again and finally beat The Joker at the end, who was nearly impossible. Then came many other Batman games on other consoles which get mixed opinions. Then came the next-gen Batman games, which the first for the PS3 was Arkham Asylum. I own this game and I admit, it was a lot of fun. The stealth factor was my favorite part, apart from BEING BATMAN. I felt they captured the essence of Batman wonderfully. It had tiny flaws but ones that stand out. It wasn't much of a free roam type game, as you are stuck right in the same area the entire game. The opposite of Arkham City, which you can explore the entire city (apart from the restricted area, which isn't much of a deal) and do missions when you decide you want to do them. But Batman has come a long way. I was honestly probably not going to get this game, but I saw several of my friends playing this game on PS3 friends list. I was really curious why so many people were playing it. I asked each and every friend that was playing it if the game was worth getting and they all said the same thing. "OH YEAH!"

Now, can Arkham City really top Arkham Asylum? The game starts out as Hugo Strange is talking about cleaning up Gotham. He has set into affect "Protocol 10" which we later find out is his master plan to rid Gotham of the criminal world. From many of you that followed the comics and the animated series, Hugo Strange is a brilliant yet evil scientist and psychologist that knows Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne, which makes him a very dangerous foe. You start out as Bruce Wayne, who is imprisoned in Akrham Asylum. You slowly pick up that Bruce decided to get involved with politics and was set up and sent to the asylum. You immediately notice the graphics are stunning, as you feel you are really Bruce Wayne and really walking through a dangerous and terrifying asylum, with inmates that want to tear you limb from limb. Your first objective is to get out of the asylum and get ahold of your butler, Alfred. After contacting Alfred, you are sent your Batsuit, then your adventure officially begins. You can spin the camera around and look at Arkham City in its near entirety (apart from the underground area and inside buildings) and are instantly in awe. Though this place surely has seen better days, the graphics are amazing. Batman's own character design is quite beautiful. As Batman progresses through the game and takes damage, his bat suit shows signs of it. In the past, characters would get beat up and their outfits would stay the same and this was not only common but the norm. In this game, if batman gets a tear in his suit, it stays there. If batman gets scratched, cut, sliced...the wound stays there. So you can imagine by the end of the game that Batman isn't going to be looking in very good shape. And personally, I think all games of this genre should be this way. If you get beat up on, you should at least show physical evidence of it. And I doubt the characters quickly find a new change of clothes in between levels.

The cast is very impressive as well. Your first foe you encounter is two-face. His look and voice acting is great. After your confrontation with him (not to spoil anything but to simply tell you what to look forward to in the game) you have to enter detective mode. You are sniped at and you have to examine the bullet hole (after you locate it) and then determine at what angle the bullet came and where it lands to determine where it was fired from. After this determination, you then find the location and find who fired it at you. This is just the beginning. Throughout the game, you rely on detective mode a lot to find hidden clues and Riddler trophies, which unlocks challenges, artwork, etc. The Joker is back in this game and though he looks good graphically, he isn't looking too well as far as health goes. Joker appears to be dying from something and he informs Batman that he needs a cure. After Batman confronts the Joker, who he thinks is dead, Joker then infects Batman with his own infected blood, making Batman have no option but to find the cure for the both of them. And the rest of the game you must worry about Batman's new impending doom and find the cure for yourself and manage to save Arkham City from this "Protocol 10" that Strange has enacted. As you progress through the game, you come across many villains from the comics and the animated series like The Penguin, Ras Al Ghul, Talia Al Ghul and several others. Its a full cast of Batman heros and villains. You even come across Robin briefly, who comes to help. The cast is line-up is highly impressive.

Speaking of cast, for those of you that can download it, there is a Catwoman mini game where you can play as Catwoman. And believe me, its highly enjoyable. Catwoman is not as strong or durable as Batman and her health meter is smaller. But she is faster than Batman and has a whip which she can use in battle or swing from building to building. She is highly agile and can pounce on her enemies, crawl up walls and even on ceilings that have fencing material. Her moves are a joy to watch, as she is acrobatic and very, very fast. She can take down a room full of enemies in mere seconds. Like Batman, she has her own sub-weapons as well that help her in her journey and her own storyline, which crosses Batman's from time to time. You also, via the Playstation Store, can download the Nightwing pack and play as NIghtwing in challenge maps. I won't spoil who Nightwing is, but you encounter him a few times in the game and you will be pretty shocked to find out his identity. He ends up watching Batman periodically throughout the game and if you wish to seek him out, you can find out his purpose for watching over you.

Now as for gameplay, graphics, sound, everything that makes the game what it is. Batman starts out with just a few weapons and you slowly can upgrade them through Wayne Tech, or you are helped by people you find throughout the game that give you upgrades for your Batsuit. You can select the right weapon at the right time for use with the directional pad. Many of Batman's weapons from Arkham Asylum have returned, and there are some new weapons Batman is given to help him in his journey. The graphics, as I stated, are some of the best I have seen. Batman really has never looked better and this game does him justice perfectly. The backgrounds, the level designs, the character designs, I can't find a single flaw. I haven't really even found any game glitches, they really must have kept their eye on this game to make sure its literally flawless before releasing it. The sound is what it should be. Punches and kicks have a very appealing sound. Every sound affect is perfect and really helps set the mood. And though there is a difficulty level you can pick, even normal mode has its challenges. You have to be quick to take down a room full of enemies and have a strategy. You can't just button mash or you will be beaten quickly. You have to watch for an enemy's attack and quickly counter it. Many enemies have specific armors or attacks that you have to use a specific move to counter against. You can't just go in there and hit the punch button over and over and win, that is not going to happen. Its all about strategy in this game, not just with routine gameplay but with fighting and combat as well. Batman isn't some guy that walks down the streets and beats up on bad guys. Batman is a brilliant scientist, ninja and silent assassin. A lot of his strategy relies on fear, intimidation and stealth. You are far better off hiding in the shadows and quietly knocking out an opponent or hanging from a gargoyle and dropping down and knocking them out quietly than running in, guns blazing, and taking on the whole room and fighting an all out hand-to-hand combat brawl. That will get you defeated quickly, especially considering most guards or enemies are armed heavily and not afraid to shoot at the first thing that pops out at them. If you are taking on an entire room full of 7-8 guards or more, all armed with machine guns, then stealth is your only option. It really has you at the edge of your seat, hoping your enemies don't spot you as they walk right past you, hiding in the shadows. And it tests your reflexes and knowledge of exactly when you should pounce on them. There is a fine line between too early and too late and perfecting this is key.

So, should you get this game? Yes, yes you should. If you are a Batman fan, comic book fan, action game fan, anything of the sort, its really a must have. Even if you just own a PS3, you should probably check it out. This game surely will be in the vote for game of the year. I am not just praising this game because I am a Batman fan. I am more of an X-men fan and I think this game totally blows the recent X-men game away in every aspect. This game should be in any game collection and I honestly have no idea how somebody could not enjoy it. Apart from a few areas which seem impossible, having 10 guys all with laser targeted sniper rifles looking for you, or just not knowing where to go....that's the concept, you have to THINK. You will figure it out and really pat yourself on the back once you figure out the clues. Like I said, this is Batman, Batman is a genius when it comes to strategy and it will really test your knowledge when playing this game and when you finally beat it, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment from it.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/11/11

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

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