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Posted by drew10 on Nov 2, 2011
Batman: Arkham City – Rocksteady – PS3

Batman: Arkham City – Rocksteady – PS3

In 2009 Rocksteady Games brought us a title that cam completely out of left field. For years we had been subjected to below par superhero titles but it all changed with the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum. The game redefined the genre and ended up as runner up in our 2009 Game of the Year Awards.

Fast forward to today and Arkham Asylum has grown. No longer sufficient in size part of Gotham City has been walled off to create Arkham City. Incarcerated inside the walls of Arkham City are nearly every one of Batman’s enemies and the whole place is run by insane shrink, Professor Strange.

The story begins with Bruce Wayne being arrested and brought into the prison as a political prisoner. Obviously he escapes and soon his trusty butler, Alfred provides him with the tools to become Batman. Batman sets about trying to find Strange and  bring down Arkham City.Along the way he will meet many of his enemies including, Mr Freeze, The Riddler and of course The Joker. There are also many side missions that feature some of the lesser known Batman characters.

On top of this you also get to control Catwoman in certain missions that add variety to the action. Catwoman has slightly different controls to Batman and a few new tricks up her PVC sleeves. She has the ability to climb up buildings and also hang from certain types of ceilings. It is a shame there si no option for a two-player co-op but we can dream for part three.

With Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady have upped the ante way more than we could have possibly imagined. The game is much bigger, the stories more in-depth and the looks have improved immensely. Soaring above the city using a mixture of gliding, diving and grappling is simply a joy.  There are loads of side missions and Riddler challenges to solve, these are littered around the city and provide added distraction from the storyline. Some are also devilishly difficult.

Of course it wouldn’t be Batman without the wonderful toys and Arkham City is no exception. You are armed with the Batarang, Bat claw and exploding gel and you can add to these considerably. You can also switch into detective mode which allows you to see through walls and also what danger level your enemies are. As the mode uses X-rays, enemies  are displayed, rather excellently as skeletons. Blue is a standard unarmed enemy, yellow means they are carrying a gun and the green ones can be interrogated to reveal where the Riddler secrets are in the local area. You must leave the green characters to last in a scrap if you want to get the information out of them.

Fighting in Arkham City is very similar to the previous game. You can build combos to unleash different finishing moves. When fighting numerous enemies counter attacking is imperative, a spikey symbol appears above the head of the enemy that is about to attack, pressing triangle will unleash a counter-move. These look great, especially when you counter two enemies at once. Trying to take out multiple enemies with weapons in a full frontal attack is suicidal, so using the environment is essential. Hanging from gargoyles and taking out enemies with an inverted takedown is excellent and huge fun. Although the enemies are now more aware of this and can even shoot out the gargoyles to stop you from using them. Mixing up your attacks is essential so using under-floor crawl ways to attack from underneath as well as flying drop attacks from above is required.

The mechanics of the game as a whole are just excellent although whilst the game-world has been increased dramatically the gameplay feels very similar to the first game. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, if its not broke… Still a few more new moves would have been welcome. That said the inclusion of Catwoman as a playable character is a stroke of genius and it would have been good to have had a few more missions with her.

The game looks brilliant, dark moody, Gothic architecture is offset with bright bold neon signs. The streets are full of people and nearly every one is a criminal waiting for the chance to have a pop at the ‘freaking Bat’. The animation is brilliant and flying through the city looks simply stunning. The re-imagining of the tried and tested Batman characters is brilliant with every one having a look unique to the game whilst still being instantly recognisable.

The games sound track is also impressive. All of the main characters are voiced superbly with a special mention to Mark Hamill as he reprises his excellent role as The Joker, although Penguins  English accent leaves a little to be desired.  The general thugs of Arkham City are less inventive with their dialogue however, repeating the same lines time and time again. Incidental sound effects are of the highest order with everything sounding exactly as you imagine it should. Punches land with a satisfying crack.

So overall Batman: Arkham City is a triumph but there are some things that still gripe. As mentioned earlier the gameplay feels overly familiar with there being very little in the way of innovation from the last title. Also the main campaign is very short and although you can continue playing to complete all of the side missions the main story will last no more than seven hours if played through. The side missions do increase this time significantly though.

Another thing slightly odd about this game was the ease of the boss battles. You will find yourself breezing past even the hardest of bosses. In fact, an attack from multiple thugs are harder to deal with than the bosses.

Despite these couple of issues,  Batman: Arkham City is still an amazing game. It offers everything the fist title had and so much more. If you know what’s good for you you will get out there and own the streets!

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