Last week, I got Batman: Arkham City – Game of the Year Edition. I had bought Arkham Asylum earlier this year for a super discounted price, and I completely enjoyed it. Taking down foes with your advanced tool belt and unmatched combat skills is one thing, but being the Batman at the same time where you take down infamous criminals from the Batman universe makes this even better. So when Arkham City was released, it immediately gathered attention for potentially being one of the best games of the year and eventually did by many credible sources. I was going to buy it a couple of months after it was released, but when I caught wind of this version with all the DLC and an included extra DLC would be released in late May, I simply had to get my hands on it.
The Compelling Story
Batman has one of the richest and most memorable stories and villains in the comic book universe. It’s his story that inspired years of both deliciously campy and horrifyingly unforgettable villains and characters, and the eternal conflict between Bat and criminal has the potential to produce any kind of story line. Arkham City’s storyline revolves around a newly constructed walled off city for the criminals of Gotham to reside in. Naturally, territories form with the heads of each organization being a well known Batman villain: Two-Face, Penguin, Joker, etc. When Bruce Wayne suspects something fishy going on in the city, he suits up and begins a journey that will take him through nearly every Batman character he’s ever faced. I can’t spoil too much for those who haven’t played, but Arkham City has made fantastic use of it’s rich and colorful universe to create a compelling and engaging story to try the Batman.
The Combat is a Good Balance of Satisfaction and Button Mashing
If you’re familiar with Arkham Asylum, it’s distinct fighting style is very much borderline button mashing, to the point of God of War and other action-oriented games. What I like about both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, which has brought that combat system back, is that certain mechanisms and maneuvers offer the right steepness of difficulty for satisfaction of laying waste to dozens of thugs. The seamless and rather beautiful choreography to each action move is very satisfying to watch as Batman tears his through the crowds, and the immediate response of counter and evade moves make for a challenging but fair way to dodge enemy attacks. Certain opponents like heavily guarded men, shielded men, and knife wielders keep you on your toes so the fighting doesn’t get too monotonous and easy. You may start with fighting only 4 guys at a time, but don’t be shocked when you’re faced with taking on 20 guys and once and getting the chance to punch, kick, batarang, and batclaw your way through all of them as you near the end of the game.
The Stealth Missions Provide a Great Challenge
Along side melee fights are the stealth missions that make a return. These are so much fun because there are so many different ways to approach these missions. You truly feel like the Batman when you plan your attack patterns, lure enemies into traps, and watch the enemies get more and more nervous as you pick them off one by one. Do you come up from behind? Hide inside vents? Grab men over rails? Blast the floor underneath them? There are so many ways you can take down foes, and it allows you get to creative in how you envision your Batman to be.
Catwoman Gameplay is a Good Change Up from the Dark Knight
Also making her entrance into the story, is the very voluptuous Catwoman. This altruistic anti-hero has jewels in mind, but when the criminals of Gotham get in her way, she doesn’t mind helping Batman take out some trash. A different style, but relatively similar fighting style, playing Catwoman is always a nice change up from being Batman and watching her dance fight her way through dozens of thugs is definitely something I enjoyed. She plays certain key roles in the story mode, leading up to points where both Batman and her meet where the transition in players begin. She’s got her own Riddles to solve [read on for more], so even when after the stories are over, you can change back to her at will. My only real upset with her is her annoying climbing method…More on that as you read on.
Arkham City is Expansive and Deep
Unlike Arkham Asylum, which was just a really big Island with a prison on it, Arkham City is a real city, with buildings, signs, alleys, and bridges. And the entire map is free roam. The detail is surprisingly deep full of Batman universe mythlore. The alleys, streets, and rooftops make way for many engagements between Batman and thugs, and being free roam, Batman has the notion to ignore them completely. And despite being very big, the traveling mechanism for Batman makes flying and gliding around really fun and easy. It’s only when you’re Catwoman, do you feel limited due to her annoying climbing as the primary way of getting around. It’s only when you’re her to do you realize how big the city really is when you have to jump from rooftop to rooftop to rooftop to get from one point to the other.
The Riddler is One of the Biggest Driving Forces in This Game
Having already completed the story, there is one major factor that is keeping me going. The Riddler. He made a rather big impact on Arkham Asylum, where his trophy hunting and Bat scanning was fun, but he takes it to a whole new level here where the trophies are more like puzzle games. With about 400 puzzles and trophies to find, you’ll find yourself being more busy solving his riddles than cleaning up the streets of Gotham. They’re fun to acquire and usually the riddles aren’t so hard that when you do finally solve them, an immense feeling of satisfaction travels through your body. There are also Catwoman exclusive trophies to, so there’s even more incentive to don the Catsuit.
Also affiliated with the Riddler are his challenge maps. Being the Game of the Year Edition, this disc comes with all the DLC installed onto the disc, meaning you have access to extra maps as well as completing them not only as Catwoman and Batman, but also Nightwing and Robin. These new characters are fun, bringing their own distinct style of combat into play [I particularly love Robin’s staff], and these challenges will likely take as long as the main campaign itself if I strive to land 3 stars on all events [a very tough challenge, might I add]. I’ve only got about 30 out of the 400 possible stars in this mode, and I can tell it’ll be what keeps me going for a long time.
Comic Book Mythlore is Really Neat
I’ve mentioned it above, but almost everyone from the Batman comics makes an appearance in the game. If not an actual in-game appearance, you’ll surely read/hear about what happened to them. Some are allies, others are enemies, the roots between how two characters interact with each other is surprisingly emotional, and if you’re not up to date with your Batman mythlore, the game itself helps people by providing background on nearly every character in and out of the game.
Harley Quinn’s Revenge
Harley Quinn’s Revenge is the new DLC that came along with this game, that follows up the events of Arkham City. I’ll be honest and tell you that I haven’t quite gotten to this yet, because I’m still scrambling across the city finishing up my side missions, finding Riddler trophies and fighting challenge maps. But I’m very excited to see what ‘ol Harley Quinn’s got in store for me.
Overall this was a great game, and I can see why it got so much hype. I’m also very glad I waited this long to get it, because I’m very happy that this version included all the DLC. In addition, this game only gets me amped up for The Dark Knight Rises. There’s no better way to prepare for that movie than to get into the mind of the Dark Knight himself.