Latest Game Reviews

Batman: Arkham City Review - PS3

9.5
Gameplay: 10 stars 10
Graphics: 9 stars 9
Audio: 8 stars 8
Innovation: 7 stars 7
Share |
click to view full image
view full
click to view full image
view full
click to view full image
view full
click to view full image
view full

Introduction

I must confess to being a big fan of Rocksteady Studios’ work on 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum. Pulling off a Retro Studios-esque feat of basically coming from nowhere and delivering a fantastic product out of the gate (albeit with one previous title to their name), it was both a great game and a great Batman experience. And the Retro comparison doesn’t stop there – not only did the title revive an old franchise with modern sensibilities, but even featured a Metroid-esque collection mechanic in a world populated with hidden secrets. Cut to 2011, and a sequel, Batman: Arkham City, has arrived – can it do the series justice?

Gameplay

Note to developers: Arkham City is how you do a sequel. Rocksteady wasn’t content to merely transplant the game into a new facility – they eagerly reimagined the entire property. Instead of three small zones with a couple of buildings in each to explore, you’re free in a city slum to explore the streets. No loading, just a wide crumbling prison ghetto with districts that once were industrious or civilised institutions. And of course, populated with nearly four hundred and fifty riddles to solve courtesy of the Riddler. With many more switch and gadget-oriented puzzles on top of the cryptic clues and trophy hunts of the first game, the jam-packed world holds much to keep you returning even after your main quest is finished.

It’s like they said, hell, while we’re at it, let’s not make it a linear game any more. Let’s fill the world with side missions that you can seek out and complete if you don’t feel like continuing on to the next story beat. Let’s take villains that have become cartoonish in old films and reinvent them with pathos and drama. Let’s take the one on one skirmishes with gangs of four or five thugs and up it to one on many fights with upwards of thirty attackers. Let’s double the number of gadgets and integrate them tightly with puzzle solving and combat. And hell, let’s not water down the effectiveness of the first game’s best moments by bringing back villains because they worked last time.

Rocksteady wasn’t scared to take risks, and it paid off. The safe choice would have been to set Batman loose in another facility. The safe choice would have been to bring back Scarecrow and do more trippy platforming. But instead, the team decided they would go for it – really go for it – and try and be better than before. They learnt from the mistakes last time and avoided them; no out-of-character sequence where Killer Croc is hunting you; no unsatisfying Joker climax after twenty hours of psychological games. In fact, the main storyline as a whole builds on what came before, integrating a new foe and reaching a dark and bold conclusion. The game feels right – it has the sense of dread, of unease, of villainous ploys, of ...

(continued next page)





Reader Comments:

No comments have yet been added, feel free to add one by clicking below...