Batman: Arkham City is an action-adventure game developed by Rocksteady Studios. It was published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC late in 2011. It is the second game in the Arkham series. I really enjoyed my time with Arkham Asylum so I was very excited to get a chance to play its sequel as soon as I finished it.
The story takes place one year after the events in Arkham Asylum. A crazy series of events have taken place that has turned the slums of Gotham City into a giant jail like zone. Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Penitentiary are shut down and all of the inmates are moved to this newly dubbed jail zone “Arkham City”. The game begins with Bruce Wayne protesting against Arkham City when his press conference is stormed by security and he is subsequently arrested and thrown into Arkham City for no apparent reason. He finds out that the city is being run by Hugo Strange, who knows his identity as Batman and says that if he tries to escape he will tell the world. Eventually Bruce escapes and gets his suit delivered to him and he begins his investigation of the events taking place in Arkham City. After another series of unfortunate events, Batman is forced to stay in Arkham City until he can solve things because it has become a life or death situation for not only him, but everyone in Arkham City as well.
The story of Arkham City was extremely enjoyable. I am very fond of the writing in both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. It is rare to find a good comic book superhero video game, so these games stand very high on a pedestal in comparison. Without ruining anything, Arkham City actually makes you care about some of the supervillains. This blew my mind. I remember several occasions where I actually wanted to help them out for one reason or another, which goes to show just how superb the writing really was. Arkham City also included a few plot twists that I did not see coming at all which keeps things fresh. I love when a game is not predictable.
Just like I mentioned in my Arkham Asylum reaction blog: Arkham City looks amazing. The graphics are good enough to look like the game came out this year on the consoles it was released for. They won’t wow anyone per say, but they don’t have to in all honesty. One change Rocksteady made when developing Arkham City is that they made the world map much larger. Arkham City is HUGE in comparison to Arkham Asylum. They did an amazing job as no two parts of Arkham City looked the same. Every section of the city had unique buildings and landmarks to identify them by. The only issue I had with the graphics is that if you were quickly traveling through the city there was a chance that there could be screen tearing and texture issues. It was almost like you were moving too fast for the environment to load and would just look like blocks for a few seconds until the textures were able to load.
The voice acting in Arkham City was simply phenomenal. Kevin Conroy returns to play an awesome Batman and Mark Hamill reprises his role as a creepy but awesome Joker. Rocksteady did a great job by getting these actors as well as the rest of the cast. The only issue with voice acting is that since there are so many inmate enemies around the city, many of them are the same exact voice and say the same exact things. I know this isn’t really something to complain too much about, but when you fight hundreds of enemies and hear the same lines over and over again for 12+ hours, it starts to annoy you.
Arkham City is identical to Arkham Asylum for the most part when it comes to gameplay mechanics. It is a third person open world action-adventure video game. Combat is accomplished using one button to attack, one button to counter, and a few buttons to use gadgets. Batman has a few gadgets to begin the game but ends up with several that are very helpful in different situations. This combat system sounds quite simple when in fact it can be very deep if you want it to be. A lot of it revolves around trying to keep combos going on large groups of enemies by stringing together a series of attacks and counters. It is easy to learn the basics of combat and can be quite fun most of the time, but since it is so simple it can sometimes feel a bit repetitive.
One of my problems with Arkham City was the respawning enemies. I felt like I was making a difference in Arkham Asylum because when you cleaned out an area of enemies, it would stay cleared out. If you cleared out a street in Arkham City and then went a few blocks away, all of the enemies would respawn in the same spot. I never felt like a superhero because the enemies were endless.
New to Arkham City is a series of side missions you can do at any time during the story. Some supervillians from Arkham Asylum return and other new ones are introduced in these side quests. They have little to do with the main storyline, but are fun to play through and find out more information about them. It adds reasons to explore the city more than if you had just been following a linear story line.
The Verdict: 8.5 out of 10
Arkham City continues the great start that Arkham Asylum established. There is a sea of horrible comic book superhero video games out there, but this series manages to rise above them. Any developers looking to make any future comic book superhero games need to use this as an example. The voice acting, story, and atmosphere of this game are great and could easily become a movie. But for as good as Arkham City is, I still didn’t like it as much as Arkham Asylum. When you are a superhero you would think that you are a badass making a difference to the world, but the respawning enemies completely take that away. This by no means makes it a bad game and I recommend you play it if you haven’t already. Batman is such a cool superhero, and the game incorporates so many of the unique supervillians that inhabit his universe. So do yourself a favor and go play it!