The Night is Mine!
The Dark Knight returns for another round against some of Gotham’s most infamous criminals in what just might be one of the craziest prisons around. With a portion of Gotham City’s slums acting as its interior, Arkham City is Batman’s newest challenge. Under the watchful eyes of its warden, Hugo Strange, and his private force of TYGER soldiers, Batman must figure out Sharp’s intentions for Arkham City and its inmates as well as locking up some of his most fiercest rivals.
A Prison Unlike Any Other
Once Bruce Wayne dons the cape and mask atop one of the tallest buildings in the prison, the player is shown the size of Arkham City for the first time: the first thought that comes to mind is an overwhelming sense of size – Arkham City is big. Old factories, clubs, restaurants, roads, gardens, subways, apartments and monuments set the tone for the chaotic, crumbling and dark environment. If there was any place that could really hold some of the world’s most sinister and deadly criminals, Arkham City is the perfect location.
Of course, some of Batman’s famous enemies are held here as well. While it does not show on the map, some of these villains have factions throughout the city and their minions also walk through the streets in uniforms matching their allegiance. In addition, Batman can learn about the state of some of his adversaries by listening in to the henchmen’s conversations. These conversations appear randomly as the player travels across the city and provide a nice addition to the storyline, as we get a glimpse of the situation from the view of the common inmate and not from one of the main characters.
As in Arkham Asylum, The Riddler has his challenges hidden throughout the city in the form of trophies, riddles and the destruction of surveillance cameras. Obviously, the bigger the area, the more there will be of these challenges, and they range in difficulty from the ridiculously easy (destroying multiple cameras) to the incredibly insane (deactivating multiple pads and neon question marks to open the trap containing the trophy). Taking the time to beat these challenges and solving the puzzles to reach the prize is fun and can really keep the player busy between main missions, while waiting for Oracle to call about a lead in a side quest or to just spend some time apart from the story and focus more on game completion.
Like in Arkham Asylum, there is a simpler way to find multiple challenges on the map. In a similar fashion to the Riddler Maps found in the last game, certain inmates will be glowing green to indicate that they are a member of Riddler’s gang. Knocking out all the other enemies and leaving the Riddler henchman will allow Batman to interrogate him to find out the locations of Riddler challenges in the area. This method of discovering Riddler’s challenges proved to be the most fun since it involves combat and interrogation to find out where the challenges may be.
There is Nothing Batman Cannot Handle
Batman’s freeflowing combat makes a return in the game with a few additions that give him an even better edge against his foes. The first thing is that enemies now have multiple items to fight Batman with; from shields to armor, Batman must take these enemies down with new methods such as climbing the enemy and attacking from above or stunning them first and then attacking with a flurry of punches.
Batman’s stealth combat has also upgraded to silent takedowns that now come with a punch that makes the knockout much quicker, but also louder, attracting nearby enemies. Batman’s new destructive combat moves are like two sides of a coin: on one side, they look amazing when fighting multiple enemies, but on the other, fighting is made very easy. (I probably only died in combat a few times.) Still, the fighting is intense and it shows just how powerful Batman can be when faced with huge odds.
Batman also has some new toys to play with as his number of gadgets has increased, while some of his older ones have received upgrades as well. Each one can be used in combat, but some of them are there for a specific purpose outside of fighting and are rarely used unless that obstacle is encountered.
Places to Go, Missions to Complete
For the main story, Batman must travel around Arkham City and quell multiple incidents in his crusade against crime. Each mission reveals a new character involved in the chaos of Arkham City, and the list is long. It is like walking through a museum of Batman’s adversaries… instead they’re not behind glass walls and are trying to kill him. Each mission is extensive and provides a suitable challenge for the player. Most of them take place inside big structures in Arkham City, which really show off the great attention to detail that was put into each of these places.
The addition of Catwoman as a playable character feels a bit strange. She only has a few missions and her role in the game usually comes at a cliffhanger for Batman. Her arsenal is not as extensive as Batman’s and I rarely used all of it, since her playthrough only involved combat and sneaking around, and both could be accomplished easily with only her whip and stealth.
Aside from the main story and the Riddler challenges, there are also side missions. Revealing what these are could spoil the game, so all I am going to say about them is that they are a great addition. Some of them take no more than an hour and some last for much longer depending on how determined the player is to discover the next step in the quest. Like the Riddler challenges, they are a great distraction from the main story and give a chance to showcase more characters and Batman’s extensive skills.
The Final Verdict
The folks at Rocksteady Studios have really outdone themselves. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a great hit, but Batman: Arkham City is in a league of its own. Arkham City provides a vast open space with many things to do. The voice acting is great and the musical score is fantastic; indeed, they really gave me the feeling that I truly was Batman, soaring across the rooftops, solving crimes and throwing down justice at any and every villain or inmate in the city.
The world of Batman is a terrifying and interesting place and full of some of the most weird and frightening characters in the comic book kingdom, and it is such a thrill see them in an environment where they rule. Until Batman comes along, that is. Batman: Arkham City is a must for the Batman aficionado or rookie. Terror lurks inside the walls of Arkham City, so be prepared to suit up and bring justice to those who deserve it.