Review by Nogarda
"One of the best Batman plots in the history of the franchise"
Admittedly I was never the biggest supporter of Arkham Asylum. Sure it had proved to be the best batman game ever created undoubtedly. Yet it was one of those games which seemed respectfully restrained with its license and the combat system was either a hit or miss with most players due to its combat system.
So with Arkham City you would be forgiven for initially assuming that Rocksteady had forgone the metroidvania route for a sandbox, akin to Grand Theft Auto or Saint's Row just letting you play as Batman.
Well when the game begins you are treated to one of the best videogame introductions in recent memory. It simply sets the tone of what is to come. But it is beautifully disguised as the game's tutorial which is quick and simple as the sequence.
Upon reaching the top of the ACE Chemicals building you are greeted by your first true vista of Arkham City, and it is dark and gritty and plastered with crime as you might imagine or flick through a Batman DC comic book and it appears very similar to scenes you can see there, even more so once you re ach your first gargoyle and get that iconic side view of Batman's face against the background of Gotham City and Arkham City below; you are Batman.
Getting around is simplistic as it was previously but with some added feature's. Previously Arkham Asylum wasn't super big so there was no real need to glide long distances. Now there is as Arkham City is one huge horse shoe shaped expanse. You're going to need multiple ways to get around, so enter dive bomb gliding. Simply hold the trigger for a moment, release hold the analogue stick so you pull up out of the dive, and you not only increase glide speed but occasionally gain height, and cover a satisfying amount of distance. When you begin learning you will probably make it from building to building, or from a good height a number of buildings before using the batclaw to grapple upwards to your location if you dip below, or are within reach of your location.
Eventually you will unlock a series of Augmented Reality' Training sections, successful completion of all of them granting you an advanced batclaw which helps improve your locomotion further and has a really badass takedown if you can execute it properly.
The combat system remains relatively unchanged just with some minor tweaks and additions allowing formerly unskilled combo chainers like myself to get combo's up into the high twenties or on a good round, the mid to low thirties. But masters of the system will be easily raking in combo's over one hundred in some scenarios, meaning they will be levelling up Batman's combat skills a little faster than others may be due to the combat bonus multiplier for XP but even poor combo players will be maxing out the skills in time anyway.
One of the biggest criticism's of Arkham Asylum was the lack of some of the cast, having them simply as easter eggs, and in some cases a lack of Robin the Boy Wonder in any shape or form. Well after going through the game's roster the only significant omission I can think of is the lack of Nightwing who could have fitted in rather easily for a side mission cameo. But the third iteration of Robin aka Tim Drake is more than satisfying and welcoming.
Surprisingly the game's comedy doesn't come from who you may expect, but in the dry obvious observational humour of Alfred, I was roaring at some of his quirky comments.
If anyone complained or even hinted at the lack of bad guys in Arkham Asylum, they have very little room to manoeuvre now as the cast is packed to perfection playing upon the mythos and history of Batman to perfection, the gloves well and truly come off this time around and the key players in Arkham City create a perfect symphony of chaos, deceit, treachery, double-crossing, betrayal and scheming, I consider this not only the best Batman game of all time, but possibly one of the best Batman plots I have personally ever witnessed, from the handful of comics I have read, the entire filmography of Batman, and anything else Batman I have come across, only a number of storylines can contend with this one, but they tend to focus on one maybe two super villains, in this story there are at least eight I can think of without so much as looking at the roster of villains, Rocksteady & DC have done an amazing job.
The main storyline will probably last anyone who decides to never deviate from it ten or so hours. But thanks to the Riddler the time sink for fellow videogame kleptomaniacs such as me will find that they will be puzzling out the 400+, (yes there are over 400 to get.) will be searching these little babies out for a further ten plus hours alone, and if you get stuck, there are always the helpful Riddler informant's who put the trophies in these places for Riddler in the first place, which explains so much and also gives you handy little map markers to find.
If you get the Catwoman code you not only get a prologue, and missions that break up and take place during the main story of Arkham City giving you control of Catwoman at genuine intervals of Batman's story but you genuinely feel that the gameplay is different and unique, and a great contrast to Batman showing you how his technology makes it easy for him to disappear and appear depending on his situation, but you get to experience the agility of Catwoman and experience a little bit of a side story, which admittedly falls a little flat, but is one hundred percent typical Catwoman.
The combat/predator missions have been changed up a little bit in that they are integrated into multiple mission's tasked to you by none other than the Riddler, an example of which being you will do three missions in one, two predator and one combat missions, your rating is then tallied and scored accordingly with the typical targets and parameters for you to complete. This makes it that much harder for people to exploit for quick times or perfect combos, the requirement now is to perfect all of them in a single sitting with limited amount of retries.
When it comes to issues' with the game, I genuinely cannot come up with anything that is broken or requires immediate fixing. I am sure some players somewhere have found a falling through the map glitch that may need a patch at some point, but once the costume packs for batman and all the rest come out Batman Arkham City can only ever improve in my eyes, and the room for actual DLC content possibly adding new villains and content to the game is just large enough to accommodate such a plan.
There is only one way to top Batman Arkham City, and that is for Rocksteady to take the time out and comeback in the four years or more required to give us the big expansive Gotham City proper we are treated to in the background, with an added playable batmobile, and batwing and giving us either an integrated batman and robin co-op campaign, or a separate batman and robin co-op campaign. If there is anything that can make this game more amazing, it is doing it legitimately with a friend over a good online co-op service with a messaging system if the host wishes to go into an interior location and the co-op partner has to accept. Also co-op Riddler puzzles, if the team at Rocksteady get a kick out of hiding these things so well which require a lot of player ingenuity to find in the first place, imagine the sadistic pleasure they would get out of making and hiding co-op based Riddler puzzles. Then better yet, imagine the feeling you the player will get out of solving the harder versions of these.
But as it stands if you rent Arkham City, I will be surprised if you don't end up buying it or at the very least want it but just can't afford it. This game is not just a must buy, it is a must play!
+ Arkham City is an amazing sandbox
+ One of the best Batman plots in the history of the franchise
+ Improved and increased roster of villains and heroes
+ Plenty to keep you occupied, find, and test your mental fortitude
+ You ARE Batman
- Still no co-op
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 10/25/11
Game Release: Batman: Arkham City (EU, 10/21/11)
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