Last year, Batman: Arkham Asylum showed us that games based on comic books can be awesome as long as they have a passionate driving force. With Arkham City, developer Rocksteady takes fan service to the next level as it expands on what was already a definitive action game.
In Batman: Arkham City, the action has moved out of the confines of the asylum into the city, a super prison that’s now the breeding ground for Gotham’s scum as well as some of Batman’s most dangerous adversaries. Dr Hugo Strange is now in charge of the place and it’s up to Batman to find out what his end game is. At the same time, his arch nemesis, The Joker has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Batman will also encounter a ton of bad guys from the DC universe, some of who may only be familiar to hardcore fans. Gamers now have more freedom than before. This isn’t an open world game like GTA IV, but there is a lot of content to go through. Besides the story itself, you have a ton of side quests scattered too. You also have The Riddler making his return with many more deadly puzzles. And finally, the challenge rooms test your skill at both stealth and combat.
Where’s the mini-map?
While we appreciate the change in scenery, we have a gripe with the game’s navigation system. Now that the game’s bigger in scope, a mini-map would have really helped. But there isn’t any. Another aspect we didn’t care for was the game’s unlock system. In Arkham Asylum, you revisited parts of the island with newer gadgets and improved abilities so you could access new areas. This is significantly reduced in Arkham City as you begin the game with most of your abilities from the first game.
That aside, Arkham City delivers the perfect Batman experience. Both stealth and combat return as the two core pillars of gameplay and are more refined than before. Fluid and responsive combat is back with the addition of newer moves and counterattacks that make going through a large group of enemies like violent poetry in motion.
Built on the same Unreal 3 Engine, Rocksteady has managed to churn out fancy visuals both indoors and outdoors. As you set foot in Arkham City for the first time, the city’s staggering scope hits you as you gaze at the skyline. There’s so much detail, it will take you time to soak it all in. Batman’s animations have also been heavily worked upon and the act of jumping or gliding from buildings looks natural. Character design is top-notch; even the villains and their grunts are well designed. This game screams of high production values and an immaculate attention to detail.
Apart from a few minor issues, Arkham City delivers the perfect Batman experience. It looks good, plays brilliantly and offers a stupendous amount of content that will keep you within Arkham City for days on end. This game is a shining example of licencing done right and we really hope other developers sit up and notice.