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Batman: Arkham City Review

One of the most anticipated releases of the year – Batman Arkham City, doesn’t fail to deliver an intense and gripping story that will have you playing on the edge of your seat! It’s not without its flaws, but the Caped Crusader takes us once more on a journey into the darker side of Gotham City.

Developed by RockSteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Batman Arkham City is available in stores now. As a sequel to the 2009 blockbuster hit, Batman Arkham Asylum; Arkham City takes the player into a sprawling open air mega-prison home to the most violent thugs and infamous villains ever known in the Batman universe. Including, the Joker, Two Face, Penguin, Mr Freeze and the Assassin – Arkham City is one of those games that leave you wondering “is that the time already?” just when you know you’ve had a good time, it’s hard to put this bad boy down. Batman’s authoritative strides, gripping strikes and enforcing glides across the city ensure your mind-set is exactly that of a law enforcing Super Hero. As well as a huge main mission to complete (with every step of your progress nicely tracked) you also have plenty of side-missions to sink your teeth into which expand the game even more and offer additional story elements all worth playing that you wouldn’t want to miss.

For now – let’s talk about gameplay… Without giving away too many spoilers as you are guaranteed to want to play this game for yourself? Batman Arkham City, takes place around one year after the events of Arkham Asylum, where Quincy Sharp had managed to foil Jokers plans into taking over the Asylum and eventually through that he had since became The Mayor of Gotham City. Sharp had also invested in the creation of a massive open-air prison since he was sure that the Asylum was not large enough to hold all of the city’s criminals and villains; then Arkham City was born – a place where the criminal underworld of Gotham City was safely locked away, but freely able to walk and live in a heavily guarded secure environment. Batman just wouldn’t be Batman if he wasn’t doubtful over the safety of the civilians and when Catwoman herself is nearly executed in the very beginning of the game – the story then further unfolds and develops into a huge plot leaving you to master your plans using stealth, a variety of gadgets, some handy detective work, your fists and all in the setting of a ginormous open world which can be freely explored both internally and externally. You will find yourself following cold spots, hacking computer systems, chasing radio signals, hunting out phone boxes and other clues that lead you to your dangerous destination – most are at your own free will, but often some timed missions appear which will have you in quite a rush and put your cape to its full uses. Gliding from one building to another in the graphical beauty of Arkham City just leaves you in awe.

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Arkham City is quite literally filled to the brim with criminal’s intent on trying to kill you, but just as you are intensely progressing through the main mission a crafty villain-based side mission creeps up on you leaving you in quite a predicament – do you rescue the innocent or stay gripped in your main story. Either way it’s totally up to you if you want to expand your experience and with three different difficulty settings available, it can also be as challenging as you require it. For gamers who like to explore every nook and cranny, you will be rewarded with Riddler Trophies which add even more genius game play elements – will you collect them all, can you unravel all the clues, can you even be bothered – again it’s entirely up to you, but for a game with no multiplayer this sure has a whole lot going for it in replay value as there are just tons of work involved if you want to hit the 100% completion mark!

The main mission and the side-missions don’t feel as if they fit well together to form part of one huge story. It can feel at times that whilst the side-missions are indeed fun, it fills up the game to add a few extra hours in game time making use of the open world environment to make you go back on yourself. Whether you are going to enjoy all of them depends on what kind of gamer you are, some will like to skip a few side-missions to finish the main story and others will prefer to complete everything. For those that want to complete everything – you might feel like you’ve done it all before with some of the side-missions and going back and forth from one end of the city to the other could get a bit repetitive after a while. The heart of the game is the main mission which is sure not to disappoint and offer a few surprises along the way. Because of the sheer size of Arkham City you will need to refer to your Map and Navigation system a few times to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.

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It is quite a challenging game even on its easiest setting mode because your enemies seem to have greater power over their weapons. Using guns, baseball bats, and enemies who fight in groups towards you, but Batman’s only arsenal is his gadgets and special move abilities which gradually unlock and upgrade over the course of the game. Once you have earned enough points in the game to ‘Level Up’ you have a few options available giving you freedom of choice over what it is you want to upgrade. Using the WAYNETECH Menu system your upgrade choices are to the Batsuit, Gadgets, Combat Abilities and Predator Abilities. All of which will allow for a gradual stronger, more defensive and offensive Batman as the game natural progresses in difficulty the further into the story you play. If you have played Arkham Asylum before, RockSteady has improved the combat system this time around with added counter attacks, and have brought back virtually all of the gadgets as well as some new ones which become available through story progression. It’s hard not to get a little excited when the on-screen prompt encourages you to beef up your Batman!

Visually the game is dark and gritty, but let’s not forget that bats only come out at night. The scenery for Arkham City is just stunning, very polished and feels very well designed. Combat moves once performed accurately briefly cut to a close-up cut scene of the action being performed and brings an awareness of the clever battle elements introduced which allows for satisfaction over a great knock out – although, it’s very easy to get killed in this game and bad timing can often destroy you. Batman himself looks amazing and the only complaint is the way that he walks, moving him around at times can feel a little stiff, but using the Batclaw to grapple buildings and your cape to glide is all very smooth and effortless. Hiding on the roof-tops and hanging in the dark shaded corners of rooms as you wait anxiously for your next enemy attack is a joy in itself.

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RockSteady Studios have taken the same great gameplay mechanics from their previous Batman title, Arkham Asylum and brought to the table a further improved and more polished game with wider exploration and a horde of enemies and comic book villains. This I am sure is what everyone waiting in anticipation of the game was expecting and they have succeeded in the expectations for developing an intensely dark and wonderful sequel. Batman Arkham City offers hours of enjoyable virtually faultless gameplay that you can’t put down. If you do not own this game already, then it is suggested you buy it this instance!

Accompanying the game is also the Official Batman: Arkham City – The Album available to purchase in CD or download format from Amazon and many other retailers.

Track Listing:

1. Panic! At The Disco – Mercenary
2. Coheed and Cambria – Deranged
3. The Duke Spirit – Creature
4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Shadow On The Run
5. Blaqk Audio – Afterdark
6. The Raveonettes – Oh, Stranger
7. ††† (Crosses) – The Years
8. The Damned Things – Trophy Widow
9. Daughtry – Drown In You
10. The Boxer Rebellion – Losing You
11. Serj Tankian – Total Paranoia

Review ScorePegi Rating

Posted By: - Can be followed on Xbox LIVE as "Jason of Duty"

Founder & Editor of ThisisXbox.com having previously written for other gaming sites since 2007. Ex-Microsoft Xbox MVP, Elite Member of the XCN, dedicated fan of all things Microsoft and Call of Duty! Can't start the day without a nice ice cold Diet Coke, a non-hippy type vegetarian who will do anything to get on a cruise holiday!!
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  • http://www.igcent.com/ Guest

    Very good review!