08 February 2012
Game Review: Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360)
This game is amazing.
Go buy it.
Oh. You want a review...? And I can't just go all fan-girl squee? Crap.
All right, if you want a real review, here goes...
Rocksteady has outdone itself.
They took everything I loved about the last game and made it BETTER.
As always, I'll try to keep it spoiler free.
Here's the story:
A little while after the events of Arkham City, Quincy Sharp has been elected mayor of Gotham City and has converted the crappy, dilapidated part of Gotham into a prison--Arkham City. Bruce Wayne voiced his outrage at the idea, considering the place where his parents were murdered is included in this new prison zone, but the prison was built regardless. Now, it houses all kinds of baddies: Joker and Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Catwoman, and Penguin just to name a few. And Penguin and Joker have some sort of turf war going on with Two-Face caught in the middle.
Bruce Wayne is blindsided and thrown into this crazy hell-hole after a public appearance.
And then you get to be Batman.
There's not a lot different from the first go-round, to be honest. This time you start out with almost everything you finished Arkham Asylum with, but they do give you a few more playthings throughout the game to keep it interesting.
The combat system is a little more complicated this time. You can use multiple gadgets to take out baddies (I tended to use a LOT of explosive gel by accident), but in the heat of battle it's hard to remember what button combination uses what gadget, etc. Thugs also have new weaponry and even armor. The tazer wands are back *not by popular demand, I assure you*, as are machetes and guns, but now thugs can use shields or are protected by armor, and special combo moves are required to take them out. It's all very difficult to remember when there's a room full of 15 guys who want to kill you and adds a ridiculously hard, albeit fun in a masochistic sort of way, element to group combat. These situations force you to use all your skills, work on prioritizing enemies, and scream a lot at the TV.
Boss fights are WAY more complicated this time around. One forces you to use every possible sneaky way to take a foe out. And another is all about timing. And dodging. But mostly timing. Seriously, these are some of the best boss fights I can remember for a while. Especially the first one.
Again, music is very limited. Which isn't a bad thing. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil reprise their roles as Batman and Joker respectively, and bring back the fantastic banter and back-and-forth that made Arkham Asylum so great. Their exchanges are among my favorites for certain.
One of the cool things is, as you're flying around Arkham City (not in the Batjet, though *sadness*) you can pick up on inmates' conversations. As usual, some of them are totally disturbing and most are totally hilarious.
This game is just as fantastic as the last. I can't begin to tell you how gorgeous it is. Just as textured and diverse as Arkham Asylum, but transferred to an entire city. The minute detailing in areas like the subway, the industrial district, the former Gotham Police Department is fantastic. There's also a shifting between daylight and dark, but it's constantly cloudy so there's not a humongous difference.
For me, this is one of the best improvements and one of the places where the game really shines. Riddler's back, but this time, there's more at stake. At certain points, you'll get a little box thingy and a riddle to answer. This unlocks a side-mission to rescue one of the medical personnel from an elaborate room the Riddler's set up. The consequence of not figuring out the secrets behind the room is the death of the victim. So thankfully there's more than hunting riddle answers and trophies. Also, the new riddles are HARD. Finding the trophies is HARD. Oy.
The other big addition is the phone calls. Zsasz is back, and he's crazier than ever. This time, he's excited to be killing random people in the city, and he taunts Batman with challenges to find the ringing phone. If Batman doesn't find the ringing phone, Zsasz kills whomever he's holding captive. Admittedly, I panicked during these segments. Yes, these are pixellated people, but I get totally engrossed in good games (much like good books), and I worked hard to find every ringing phone. That was my favorite side mission, and honestly, I was a little sad when I caught Zsasz.
Overall, I hope Rocksteady puts out 15 more of these games. The Arkham duet will become my favorite series when there's a third. And there will be a third. Rocksteady's making too much money off these games for there not to be a third. This is a well-rounded gaming experience that gives us an even better opportunity to be Batman, and who doesn't want that???