Batman: Arkham City Review
So at last I’ve finished the story mode of the latest superhero video game to be released featuring Batman in Arkham City. I would have posted my first impressions of the game when I got it the first day it came out, but I decided to wait until I completed the story mode before reviewing any part of it. Overall, I was extremely satisfied with the game and felt they did an exceptional job creating one of the best games I’ve ever played. Here’s my fully detailed review of Batman: Arkham City.
Batman: Arkham City lives up to its expectations and does not disappoint. The video game does everything a sequel is meant to do: from improving the graphics, introducing new characters and famous villains, adding new fighting techniques and weapons, to increasing the size of the map and the length of time for completion of an expanded storyline continuing from the previous game. **Warning** Below are spoilers. Continue reading at your own risk.
I thought the storyline was really good in this game. The story in the previous related game Arkham Asylum was fantastic, so I thought it might be difficult to match it. However, I really loved the connection between the adverse effects from the Titan formula on the Joker and him seeking the immortality granted by Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits. The conflicting power struggle between the Joker, Two-Face, and the Penguin added a nice variety to the game. They did a great job in making a strong continuation from the previous game. One thing I wasn’t too fond of was the inclusion of Hugo Strange and almost being misled into thinking he would be a major focus in the game. I also noticed the teaser trailer for the game was nowhere to be found during in-game cinematics. Although the story was good, the second half of its percentage went by way too fast, and I only wish it was longer. The ending seemed really rushed for some reason.
Obviously the main character of a Batman game is of course Bruce Wayne aka Batman. He had the same great determination and tactical ingenuity that is consistent with his character throughout all of the comics. Perhaps one of my favorite additions to this DC Comics video game was the addition of Catwoman with certain missions of the main storyline campaign. I had loads of fun playing as her with her unique fighting style, moves, and weapons. It was a great idea to add her in as a playable character because it added a whole other dimension and style of play. For the challenge missions, they decided to include Robin as a playable character. He also has his own set of moves and gadgets and are really fun to use, especially the shield bash. Also on the way in the future is Nightwing. After watching his trailer, he looks to have some really appealing moves and takedowns. It’s too bad Robin and Nightwing weren’t included in the story mode as playables. Perhaps a future DLC pack will include that addition.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Batman villains. They are more realistic and most are driven by psychological disturbances as opposed to overpowered abilities and greed like the norm in the comics. The story focused on an array of villains competing for control of the city; including the Joker, Two-Face, the Penguin, and Dr. Hugo Strange. I liked having these different factions to face off against instead of just one main group. My favorite addition to the game was Ra’s al Ghul, who is probably at the top of my favorite villains list. I just love his background story. The best boss fight was definitely Mr. Freeze and having to use a different takedown method every time. Other boss fights included Mr. Hammer, Solomon Grundy, the Joker, Mr. Freeze, and Clayface. The fights against these guys were way too short though.
Combat / Gadgets
Same controls as the first game. Nice and simple, but they added a couple of really neat gadgets, takedowns, and combos. What I really like is how each of the playable characters have their own set of moves and gadgets to use, which adds more variety when playing. The sonic batarang is still useless though I didn’t even use it once. My favorite gadget is the grapnel gun and my favorite combo attack is the one for armored guys and Batman just turbo punches them haha I love combined those together to finish off a combo. The dive bomb upgrade was really useful in it allowing users to travel long distances without touching the ground.
The world map was a good size. Not too small, and not too large. A big difference from Arkham Asylum small island and only a few main buildings. I would have LOVED if they included some kind of Batmobile chase scene or something of that sort.
Side Quests / Challenges
The developers really expanded the side quests this time. They added tons more Riddler challenges and trophies. They also included a bunch of villains in the side missions which I thought was neat; including the Mad Hatter, Deadshot, Hush, Zsasz, and more. The challenge missions are similar to the first game, but now they included campaign ones where they combine 3 different maps together to complete. It just adds more hours of gameplay. Completing all of the side quests and challenges for 100% takes a long time, but is really fun. I still have ways to go to accomplish that goal. The inclusion of interrogations to find Riddler items was awesome and much better than finding stupid folders around. It would have been cool to have some kind of button matching during the interrogations though and the better you perform the more items are shown on the map instead of just pressing one button for it.
The difficulty of the game was reasonable and similar to most games. Some parts of the game were tough and I admit I died more times than I can count. I played the game on Hard, and I plan to play the New Game Plus mode, which is supposedly much much harder so it’ll be a fun challenge.
The graphics of this video game were really good. Although there weren’t that many cutscenes, the closeups with other characters, especially Catwoman and Harley Quinn, looked really good haha. They should have had more cinematics added to the game. I really love watching them because it makes it feel like a movie inside a video game.
Some things I disliked about the game include:
1) main story length – although it was longer than the first game, I still would have preferred more hours, but hey not every game can be like a Final Fantasy
2) abrupt ending scene and Talia dying. I really liked her character it was too bad that happened to her
3) Arkham 3? – the ending of this game makes me think there won’t be a third installment with Batman’s nemesis out of the picture for good
4) Robin and Nightwing not playable in the campaign
5) no vehicles like Batmobile
6) short boss fights
7) not enough cinematics
Despite the above mentioned dislikes of the game, they were really minor and didn’t take much away from my overall impression. Had they been included I would have given the game a perfect score and it would have jumped to #2 favorite game of all time. But I still give the game a 9.5/10 and definitely in my top10 all time favorite games. The vast array of characters included in the game was what made the game for me primarily. The game was a huge improvement from Arkham Asylum, yet kept all of the great things about that game and expanded them, which turned it into a tremendously fun, exciting, interesting, and fairly challenging game.
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