Let’s face it. Anyone who KNOWS me, also knows I am NOT a DC Comics fan. I’m just not. If I had to pick one DC character, I would, or could enjoy reading; Batman would be the only one. Superman? Too boyscout-ish. JLA? To filled with whiners and conflicting egos. But, Batman. Batman has his roots in reality. Um… More than the others, anyway. He’s human, that’s it. He doesn’t have super strength, super speed, super x-ray vision. He’s a human, plain and simple. Ok, so he has super money. But hell, if I had super money, I’d pour it into R&D too. Who wouldn’t want to run around the city at night, gliding above the cityscape, swooping down on would be criminals and hanging them up on streetlamps?
Let’s get to the game though. Batman – Arkham City. First however, we have to start with its predecessor, Arkham Asylum. If you played that, you know what to expect. If you haven’t played it. Then I suggest you stop reading this right now, punch yourself in the face, and go buy it. You’re missing out on a super game.
Arkham City takes place a few months, years, days, weeks, whatever, after Arkham Asylum. Bruce Wayne is holding a press conference, denouncing the new Arkham City, knowing full well that the walls are NOT going to contain the mass amount of criminals housed on the other side. Especially when a loon is running the place. Namely Hugo Strange. The game starts off with you in control of Bruce Wayne and within a few seconds, you’re stomping the crap out of bad guys and saving the day. And within a few minutes of play, you’re soon face to face with your alter ego, Batman. Upon which Wayne cleverly says, “I’m Batman.” And the crowd goes wild! Errr… Well, the fan boy in me did anyway.
You start off with most of your gadgets from Arkham Asylum, which is pretty helpful. Dropping you right into the midst of trouble, mystery, and crime fighting that only Batman can whip out. Along the way he crosses paths with some of his most feared, revered, and even insane foes. Penguin, Joker, Riddler, Two Face and Mr. Freeze. Even some of his Animated Series foes make an appearance, Harley Quinn being the most well known. Some of his allies make an appearance now and again. Robin jumps in at one point and says, “I wana tag in on some ass kicking.” But being as Batman is Batman, he tells Robin he’s got this… He’s got this?!? The entire city is after him and he doesn’t need help? Holy giant cojones Batman.
So there’s a good cast. The one thing Asylum was missing was the giant cast Batman could have fought against. So it’s good to see Rocksteady pulled out all the stops on this follow-up. You also get to take on the roll of Catwoman on a few missions. Which is interesting. We’ll get to this in a bit though. Let’s take a look at the cast and interactions Batman has with them. Everyone except Penguin I feel, were well cast and in perfect harmony with the story. Penguin however, felt… I guess, miss-cast. His accent was weird and not what I had envisioned, heard, him speaking as. I guess I was expecting Danny DeVito. Anyway, Mark Hamill of course makes an awesome Joker of course. His lines and taunting of the Bat is dark and in good pace with the story.
The story is, like Asylum was, very well written. I wanted to say it was executed the same, but really, I don’t think it was. Asylum’s story was fast paced and pushed you to move on in the story, not wanting you to go off and explore, there was a sense of urgency to get through the story. Arkham City failed in many areas to repeat that. Personally I don’t think this is a bad thing, considering Arkham City is far bigger then Asylum was. However, one side effect of this was I felt overwhelmed during the down time or slower time between events. The Riddler trophies are back and in greater number and complexity. Now however, you have other loonies leaving behind clues and daring you to find them, to save so and so. Robin, where you at!?? Bah, that’s right, I didn’t need his help. I’m Batman. The pacing was off in more ways than the overwhelming side quests. By this I mean Catwoman snuck her missions in there. Why? This is a legitimate question because really, her missions, while fitting parallel with Batman’s, don’t really ADD to the overall story. There is no point to her missions. This takes me away from the main arc of the story. Why???
Ok, so it sounds like I’m complaining. I’m not however. As I told Molly over at Golgotron, I was expecting so much that I feel I have to find faults, because really, there are so few. I have to poke holes in it. Asylum was a game that was done well, nearly perfect for a super hero game. City had to meet or beat it by upping the ante. It didn’t though. By no means was City bad, or worse than Asylum. It was pretty much on par. Sure there were more bad guys, more Riddler trophies, more gadgets, more everything. But did it fix anything? Nope. Did it have a tight story? Almost.
The major faults I have with the game are its fighting mechanics. Upon a slo-mo beat down, the camera angle can sometimes switch behind an object. Obscuring your well deserved final blow upon the jaw of injustice. Annoying… It happened more often than not. The music, while fitting into the dark motif, and great art direction, faded into memory. It didn’t stick out. Some of the gadgets felt slapped on, or forced. I wanted to jump from the tower and glide all the way down, damnit! Holy god, where did Riddler get all these damn trophies?!? And WHY do I now have to pay for all those skins, as DLC? LAME. Why the hell was the remote controlled batarang’s control inverted?!? And WHY couldn’t Batman keep that sword?!?
There, I gave it some holes. Now, let’s go back to singing its praise. OMG!! It’s awesome!! OMG, OMG, OMG!!!11 Whoa, calm down… Phew. Seriously, I can’t think of any other game where punching the holy snot out of wave, after wave of bad guys, felt so deserving. The use of quick button gadgets was a welcome addition. The ambiance was pretty friggen awesome. Seeing all those Batman characters was pretty cool. The game play, despite some of the mentioned above complaints, was pretty solid. The Riddler puzzles, despite having a lot of them, were challenging. I would have liked to see more of them be deadly traps. Instead of just two. Being Batman was rewarding. For a Super Hero Game, this one is a must play. It hits every note perfectly, and despite the minor complaints I have above, it is well done. I’m actually glad they didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Could they have made things better? Probably. It would have been nice to see some of the bugs fixed. The one thing I can see, they missed on this, was a co-op mode. THEN maybe the Catwoman missions would be acceptable. If Catwoman, or Robin could team up in some of the missions, or even Challenges, then maybe it’d be near perfect game. Till they make the perfect Super Hero Game, I’ll be content in running around yelling, “I’m Batman.”