Rocksteady returns to the Batman Arkham series with a fantastic sequel that will have you playing until you finish it – Batman: Arkham City. This game should be the reason why you love Batman, Joker, Harley Quinn, and hell even Robin! Batman: Arkham City starts you off right after the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum, and the new Mayor of Gotham – Quincy Sharp – is tasked with dealing with all of the inmates from the Asylum and Blackgate Prison. He moves them all to a sealed off area right in the middle of Gotham, Akrham City. Dr. Hugo Strange runs the place, and its Batman’s job to figure out just what is really going on inside.
Right from the get go, I loved the game. Rocksteady has taken the main elements of Arkham Asylum and refined them to perfection. The controls are easy to learn, with one button to hit, one to counter, one to stun, and you can even leap from side to side when you feel like it. When you play this game, Batman moves along with your controls so fluidly, you’ll feel like you ARE Batman. In any normal game, if I walk into a room and there are 20 guys with stun rods, riot shields and guns, I’d get the hell out of there, but in Batman, I have so many options to try to take these guys down. I can throw a smoke pellet to try to bypass them, or I can jump up onto a gargoyle and stealthily take them down one by one. Batman: Arkham City lets you play the game the way you want to.
The presentation of Batman: Arkham City is top-notch. Sometimes, when I went to go do other missions, I’d find myself wandering off in the city admiring the effort the artists over at Rocksteady clearly put into it. Everything looks, acts, and feels great. Every character has been worked on thoroughly, and their voice acting is supreme. Mark Hamill returns as Joker, and once again he nails the voice. Hearing Joker’s laugh and him talking, I really believed it was Joker who was talking to Batman. One of my only complaints about the game can be found here though, I thought the thugs voices could have a little bit more variety. It’s like they brought 3 voice actors in for 20 different Thug models, and just divided up the voices for those 20. Still, you’ll notice it. The music in this game also fits in nicely, playing at just the right times throughout the game, building tension and acting as an audio cue for when things are about to get messy.
Possibly Batman: Arkham City‘s strongest feature here though is how well the story plays out. The game’s story had me hooked the second I started playing, and with the free inclusion of Catwoman DLC (as long as you bought it new) it shows you everything that happens off-screen, and really adds to the story. The ending had me struck with awe, and I was at the point where I couldn’t even comprehend how well it all played out. Every villain included would add a new element to the story, and I loved going through the game and finding all of their biographies, easter eggs, and learning about them. The game has loads for you to do, even after you finish the main story. Numerous side missions will keep you busy for hours on end, and the sheer amount of Riddler trophies, challenges, and hostages are easily enough to make you want to skip a day of work or school. There is one more tiny thing I didn’t like. While Rocksteady does a good job in adding all of these villains, they never get enough spotlight. It’s like they add some of them just for the point of making an appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I love having them in this game, but having this many just feels like you stretched the villains too thinly.
Summary: Overall though, this is the kind of game I would recommend to you like no other. The game is loaded with things to do, everything about it has some serious effort put into it, and your experience with this game would be one of the best ones of any video game.
Graphics: Characters look and move in a realistic fashion around a world that is equally as impressive. You’ll find yourself just pottering around admiring the work gone into the game, forgetting that the bad guys need to be beat up. 9.5
Gameplay: It’s fun. Simply put, great fun. Gliding around the city, sneaking around and taking down your enemies in the darkness, intuitive combat that really packs a punch, it’s all there in spades and is waiting to be shovelled into your eager eyeballs. 9.0
Sound: Some top-notch voice acting from the large cast, but tainted with some repetitive voiceovers for the regular thugs. Music builds tension when it’s needed, it’s almost a character itself. 8.5
Presentation: Menus are clear and concise, you’ll be hard pressed to get stuck. The map’s easy to read, with important locations pointed out for your convenience. 9.0
Replay Value: Lots of stuff to do once you finish the story, whether it’s collecting all the goodies or solving the Riddler’s riddles, or just generally kicking-ass for fun, there’s plenty to keep you going until your thumbs fall off. 9.0