Batman Arkham City Review

August 15, 2012

/ by Tin Salamunic

Developer(s): Rocksteady Studios
Publisher(s): Warner Bros. Interactive, Square Enix (Japan)
Platform(s): Playstation 3, Xbox360, Cloud (On Live), PC
Release Date: October 18, 2011

As a Massive fan of the Batman Films and of Arkham city’s predecessor Arkham Asylum, I awaited this game with the same excitement as a four year old on Christmas morning. Hoping and praying that it won’t let me down, that Bats won’t turn out like a box of socks. Christmas wasn’t a disappointment that year; in fact it was quite spectacular.

The events of Arkham City take place about a year after Arkham Asylum. Quincy Sharp, former warden of Arkham Asylum, has taken credit for stopping the Joker's Asylum takeover, and used the windfall to become mayor of Gotham City. Deeming Arkham Penitentiary no longer suitable to confine the city's criminals, Sharp has both facilities closed and buys out a large proportion of Gotham City, converting it into a mesmerising open-air prison named Arkham City. Gotham City becomes a police state where those with the slightest trace of a criminal record, and opponents of his regime are sent to Arkham City. The facility is placed in the hands of genius psychiatrist Hugo Strange and guarded by a squad of heavily-armed mercenaries hired from private military firm, Tyger Security.

At a press conference, millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne declares his opposition to Arkham City; promptly arrested by Strange's Tyger mercenaries and incarcerated in Arkham City. Strange discloses his knowledge of Wayne's dual identity as Batman, before releasing him into the criminal populace. Wayne obtains his crime-fighting equipment via airdrop from his reliable old butler Alfred, allowing Wayne to make his first appearance as the Dark Knight. As you stand tall on the rooftop of one of Gotham’s most illustrious buildings, with sirens echoing in the distance, the realisation become clear; you are Batman, and the whole of Arkham City is yours...

The Good
Mesmerizing visuals
Arkham City is exceptionally designed
Fantastic voice acting
Enthralling gameplay
A brilliant music score
Enticing characters with intricate detail

The Bad
Story not as deep as Arkham Asylum
Too many villains

The sudden freedom to be able to explore this incredible, gothic metropolis is too much for anyone to resist; whether it's an atmospheric museum or a dilapidated police station you can't help but drink in the fanatical architecture, and incredible detail which really gives Arkham City an extra dimension with its atmosphere and environment. Whether it’s swinging from Gotham bank or fighting the mass amounts of inmates that control Arkhams streets, you cannot help but recognize the breath-taking amount of polish and immense accuracy that batman and his supporting cast have been portrayed with. It's clearly a work of fiction, but as you explore the treacherous streets and alleys of Arkham City, its richness pulls you in, and it becomes a world you can't help but believe in. That allure is particularly strong with atmospheric details like rips appearing in on Batman's suit, or the incredibly diverse set of animations Batman has at his disposal, make this wintry, downtrodden environment become even more convincing. The excellent Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill retain their roles as Batman and the Joker, heading up an ensemble of voice actors who excel and never miss a beat. You really feel like you could go and stand on the rooftop of your local supermarket and glide to the nearest old lady in distress (however I would advise against this for many legal and moral reasons…..and a possible prison sentence.)

Of course, if you have the Caped Crusader, and the incredible wonderland of Arkham City, you need to fill it, and what a job Rocksteady have done. From the street thugs through to the Joker and Catwoman, every character oozes brilliance. A mention must go to the Joker, who’s relationship with Batman in the game really is a stroke of complete genius, and a small piece of heaven for all fans of the Batman series, be it the Comic books, films or games. The back and forth between the inmates who inhabit Arkham City is also utterly compelling and very humorous, reminiscent of the Max Payne series in particular the second title, and had me crouched behind cover on numerous occasions to hear what they were going to say next.

As I have mentioned, a couple of Batman’s adversaries are quickly introduced, that, however is only the tip, of this very large iceberg. All the usual suspects return and are vying for supremacy in Arkham City, including: The Joker, Mr Freeze, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Penguin. Batman also has his faithful old chum Robin, Alfred, and Commissioner James Gordon ready to help the Dark Knight whenever possible. What you are left with, is a incredibly vast cast, where you are left slightly un-fulfilled, partly to due to the fact that there are so many antagonists battling to headline Arkham City , that none of the super villains get the space to showcase themselves that they crave. Still, it's clear your path through the main mission is hand-crafted rather than just a sequence of organised A to B missions, which is one of the reasons Arkham City feels unlike the vast majority of open-world sandbox titles. The Pacing and structure of the game, is perfect and beautifully balanced and really keeps you enthralled from the minute you throw your first Batarang.

The gameplay really compliments the astounding graphics and structure, with the same accessible and satisfying combat system used in Arkham Asylum. At its core, it's quite simple: one button performs your attacks, while another defends and counters enemy attacks. The combat rewards good timing and rhythm, and when you get into the heat of battle, chaining your attacks together and turning your enemies' attempted attacks back on themselves is thoroughly rewarding, as glamorous as it is gritty, making it a joy to watch and participate in. Batman can simultaneously counter two attackers with a single impressive move, or take advantage of a nearby surface and pound a enemies head into it. Alongside his fists, Batman has a host of new gadgets, including (to name a select few) remote-controlled Batarangs (my favourite), smoke pellets (to obscure his position during fights) and an item called the Remote Electrical Charge (REC).  

As you progress, you encounter enemies equipped with items that make subduing them more complicated. Guards with batons can be attacked only from certain angles; enemies with shields require the use of an aerial attack; and inmates with body armour can be injured only with a rapid-fire punch attack. It's especially satisfying to defeat large, diverse groups of enemies against whom you must use a variety of techniques. Zoomed-in camera angles that give you a close look at moves during battle really enhance your attacks, but can also hamper you at certain points in the Game, especially when dealing with more than one large or important boss/foe.

Once you complete the main story, you unlock the new game plus option, which lets you carry over your hard-earned upgrades, whilst also makes your campaign more difficult; you have to deal without the helpful icons that appear during battle conveying to you that an enemy is about to strike. However once you've spent the 15 hours plus on the main game, you'll be ready for this challenge. And, as in Arkham Asylum, there are a host of challenge rooms that test your skills both in combat and in the quieter, more varied stealth situations.

The soundtrack, which accompanies your steps through the treacherous streets of Arkham, is magical, beautifully orchestrated and dramatically increases the dark, cinematic feel of the City. The score changes at perfect moments; be it gliding over rooftops or swooping down and dishing out some well-deserved justice to the thugs that plague the streets of this once opulent district of Gotham. Rocksteady have excelled themselves with Arkham Citys presentation-It is a paradise not just for followers of Batman, but for all gamers who want a enthralling, superb experience. And there is no higher praise than that.

Rocksteady have outdone themselves with Batman: Arkham City. Rather than simply revisiting Arkham Asylum, with a lick of paint and some shiny new toys, they have upped the ante on its impressive last outing and delivered a game, which stands head and shoulders, not just over its predecessor, but over most games this year. Despite facing that tricky “second game sequel” situation after Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City is easily the best Batman video game of all time, and definitely one of the stand out titles of the last 12 months. Arkham City needs a hero, are you ready...

Review by Jon Hall

Final Score “The Best Game of 2011” 9.0
Some fantastic detail during combat and Arkham city is just sublime.
Exceptionally varied and enthralling. The story is engrossing, if a little crowded.
The campaign is meaty, and will keep you hooked. Main Story alone will take around 15 hours, but incorporate side missions, extras and the new game plus option, and you’re looking at 30+ hours.
Perfect voice-acting, and an enchanting original score by Nick Arundel and Ron Fish. Majestic soundtrack that makes the overall package an immense title.
( Hide )
  1. Great review for a great game! This is def. one of my favs of all time!

  2. Catwoman is the best!

  3. This is one of the greatest super hero games of all time. Nice review btw! :)

  4. The best stealth gameplay ever!!!

  5. Ash/Steve: thank you for the kind comments, it makes all the frantic typing and note-taking worth it. haha!, Cassandra: couldnt agree with you more, you have good taste in your superheros ;), The Joker has always been my number one, he is sheer genius!. Mark: the stealth is superb! really keeps you on your toes! and Ash/Steve: agreed, this is a class game.

  6. An amazing review for an amazing game!
    Couldn't agree with you more best game i've ever played.

  7. Sounds like a game am going to have to go out and get


Don't Miss
© all rights reserved