Batman: Arkham City Review
System: 360, PC, PS3, Wii U
Batman: Arkham City was released on October 18, 2011 on the PS3/360 in North America. It is due to be released for the PC in North America on November 22, 2011. If you have played Batman Arkham Asylum: Game of the Year Greatest Hits and enjoyed it then there is no question you will enjoy Arkham City. The freedom to go anywhere and do tons of side missions is a nice addition to the overall gameplay. However, there are a few places where Arkham City just falls short. Check out the review after the jump.
*Note: This is the old type of review with criteria
The gameplay in Arkham City is very similar to Arkham Asylum. However this isn’t a bad thing as the gameplay in Arkham Asylum was really done well and pretty innovative. The issue here is that Arkham City has gameplay indoors and outdoors. While indoors in close quarters the combat system works pretty flawlessly and the AI is not horrible. Outside is a different story. For some reason when outdoors the AI seems to be worse/slower and you can literally just continue to hit the counter button and defeat all the enemies without issues, unless there is a gun involved. A combat system that allows for you to not have to time anything or really work hard to take down multiple enemies, just isn’t very rewarding. The other issue is that the controls are “sticky”. By that I mean when you are in one animation you can’t very fluidly or easily get out of it to enter another. Batman does whatever animation he is in and finishes it. This at times is troublesome when you are trying to knock someone out and the other enemy keeps coming at you. The issue is that even though you see the counter icon, you can’t counter because he is in the middle of the animation. The only way to break the animation is the enemy to hit you. Which isn’t very much fun. The gameplay is good but it’s trying to much to be perfect and in turn it fails in some aspects.
This review was done playing the PS3 version of the game and the graphics are pretty darn good. There is the occasional clipping issue but considering how large of a city it is, the game can have some leeway. The textures are solid and throughout the game Batman himself start deteriorating, at least his clothes and such. You will notice knife wounds and cuts in his chest and slices and bits and pieces of his cape missing. So the attention to detail is really impressive. The physics of the game aren’t bad either. Objects being thrown at you by enemies move faster or slower depending on size and enemies don’t go flying 30 feet into the air like in some games. The game really reminds me of Assasins Creed the first time you stood up on that tall tower and overlooked the city. There was a feeling that just made you go “wow”. The only minor issues is that a lot of the thugs/prisoners look identical and since Batman looks so good it makes them look worse. Either way the game is impressive graphically overall.
The story in Arkham City isn’t a bad one by any means but the overall plot and anticlimactic ending aren’t anything to brag about. You begin by simply saving Catwoman from Two-face. After that you never really see her again but the DLC allows you to play as Catwoman so you can see her “side” of the story. However, getting away from DLC and focusing more on the game itself…the story just isn’t as engaging or fun as Arkham Asylum. Without having too much spoilers the main premise is that the Joker is dying from a disease of sorts and ends up in the beginning of the game infecting Batman. So the race is on to try and get the cure from Freeze but there are all sorts of complications and such. To make the game last longer then it really is you are forced to go from one building to another across the map just to get one little item in order to defeat a boss. Also, you only go to around 4 buildings/places in total but you go to each at least 3 times. There is a lot of backtracking and recycling of levels. This is a bit disappointing considering how large of a city it really is. I think they could have utilized the space much better then they did. [spoiler]The Joker dies in the end, hence the anticlimactic ending.[/spoiler]
The soundtrack for the game is available here via Amazon Batman: Arkham City – The Album. Overall the music is ok. At times it feels like the new Dark Knight type of Batman but other times it just is kind of bland and not very Batman like at all. However the voice acting is very impressive. The Joker voice is played by Mark Hamil who did the original Arkham Asylum. Also returning as the voice of Batman is Kevin Conroy who has been doing Batman voices for years and he is darn good at it. The one main gripe with the audio overall is the random outbursts from the likes of Joker, or any of the bosses for that matter. The issue is not so much the randomness but moreover the fact that the same thing is said over and over and over again. Even for Batman at times when you are trying to do something he will say 10 plus times “I think I need to do this”. It gets to the point where it is annoying. I understand if you don’t have tons and tons of lines of audio but I would rather just hear music then hear the same “hint” 20 times in one minute. The sound/audio is pretty great overall just like that of Arkham Asylum.
Considering that you can beat the main story by completing only roughly 30% of the game one would think there is a lot of replay-ability available. However, once the main story is done it’s nothing but side missions. Some have to do with the main story and some are simply vigilante type missions. The game takes on a very “grand theft auto” feel in that it’s 70% side missions that aren’t necessary to do and a lot of time don’t give much incentive to do. Unfortunately there is no mutliplayer of sorts and there is no co-op gameplay. These two lacking features make this game not very friendly to play again. It gets repetitive fast with using all the recycled areas.