Review – Batman: Arkham City
Batman: Arkham City, sequel to 2009’s Arkham Asylum, outclasses its predecessor in almost every imaginable way.
The new game plays better, with an improved counterattack system that allows players to easily retaliate against multiple enemies at once the highlight of the combat tweaks.
Batman’s wonderful utility belt full of toys also gets an upgrade, as his equipment has been revamped with new secondary abilities. The line launcher can now fire off a second line, mid-ride, while the remote control Batarang gains the ability to alter its speed in midair.
There are several new gadgets as well, the most “Batman” of them being the innocent-sounding smoke pellet. When spotted by gun-wielding foes, Batman can drop the pellet to disperse a localized smoke cloud. This allows the player to either escape using the grapple gun to move quickly about the environment or go on the offensive while the enemy can’t see.
While Batman might not use guns, he has no qualms against employing a new taser-like weapon that can temporarily disable foes or be used to activate machinery ranging from doors to cranes and electromagnets.
Even the grappling gun gets an upgrade, with a new quick-reel option allowing players to catapult Batman into the air where he can glide long distances.
The increased movement option proves incredibly handy in the new setting, a prison in the middle of Gotham City that includes prisoners from both the Arkham Island facility from the first game and the infamous Blackgate Penitentiary – home to the city’s sane supervillains.
Where the original game featured a small open area as a hub between buildings, Arkham City is set in a large and almost fully-realized cityscape. There are still buildings that can’t be entered, but the majority of the environment is open to exploration and riddled with side quests, items to collect, and small, secret tributes to the fans.
Despite the new focus on an open-world setting, the game still runs at a nearly rock-solid 30 frames per second on both the Xbox 360 and PS3. The PC version was delayed just prior to launch, with a vague ‘sometime in November’ release date.
Staying spoiler-free, it’s fair to say that the Arkham City storyline is a bit more complicated than the original game’s plot. There are some additional twists and turns, plus some hidden ‘set up a sequel’ moments for those who are perceptive enough to catch them.
Replay value is added via the Campaign and Combat challenge maps, as well as a new game plus mode that adds difficulty as well as some new story content.