Batman: Arkham City, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Riddler Trophies

Clearly a Logo made from the gods themselves

Once in a while, a game comes along and absolutely humbles you. It immerses you completely into that character you’re playing, that single avatar you control. As it just so happens, that avatar is (I’m) Batman. Let me take you back a bit before I go any further.

Clearly a Collector's Edition from the Gods!

Batman: Arkham City, as most of you should know because you’ve probably read my most recent top ten, (If you didn’t, so help me!) is a game I have been anticipating for a LONG time. Ever since I finished the adventure that was Arkham Asylum I just wanted more. I wanted to be The Batman once more, and there I was, throwing down my one hundred and ten dollars to get the collectors edition and play this behemoth. All of the feelings raced through my mind like “What if this game sucks?”, “What if I’ll never find a better game to play in my life?”, “Will I be cursed to live day by day knowing that another game will never be as groundbreaking?” and I come before you humbled, because as of right now. I haven’t played a game with such depth and immersion in all of my days, and I’m a bit upset by that.

Best. Joker. Ever.

Knowing that I am a huge Batman fan is pretty much key when you read this article. There’s a laundry list of great villains involved in this game, like The Penguin, Two-Face, Victor Zsasz, Bane, Poison Ivy, Hugo Strange, and my two personal favorites The Riddler and Mr. (freakin’) Freeze! Obviously you know I left one major villain out. The Joker. He doesn’t need any introduction does he? does he?! The story goes a little something like this. Bruce Wayne is campaigning to get Arkham City torn down and stopping it’s presence from spoiling the reputation of the once “great” Gotham City. Really Bruce? Isn’t this the same place where your parents were gunned down, The Joker runs rampant, AND your former District Attorney (and best friend I might add) is now a split personality psychopath? I know, Gotham is such a GREAT place to be…the only thing great about Gotham City is that you’re in it, but I digress. Bruce Wayne is captured by Tyger Authorities and placed in Arkham City. Immediately you are placed in one of the coolest settings throughout the entire game: fighting as Bruce Wayne while handcuffed.  If this isn’t an indication as to how badass and balls to the wall this game is going to get, then I don’t know what else could be.  You find out that The Joker is still around and very sick from the previous game while Hugo Strange keeps referring to something called Protocol 10. This makes up the bulk of the main story. There are all sorts of other story arcs like The Riddler’s kidnappings where you have to collect all 400 Riddler trophies in order to stop The Riddler from killing the medical staff in Arkham City. Victor Zsasz’s phone calls in which you either reach the person in the alloted time he gives you (most of the time 2 minutes or less) or he kills them. One of my personal favorites, though, has to be teaming up with the man who broke the bat, Bane! When they say this is Arkham City, It’s Arkham CITY, they give you so much to do in such little time, just like the Bat himself.

Now who's first?

The gameplay is just all kinds of impressive. This is the game that captures what it truly is like to be The Batman. From every punch, kick, counter and takedown it is the perfect representation of the character in question. The combat is very fast paced, intuitive, and at times exhausting. You have to keep your head on a swivel, looking at every single opponent while planning your next attack, just like The Batman. Speaking of being The Batman, the way you dispatch of your enemies is entirely up to you and Rocksteady pulled no punches with how they wanted to help you along the way. Whether you wanted to sneak up behind them and silently takedown your foes or watch as they hang off a ledge or a gargoyle. It’s entirely up to you. Detective Mode is back from Arkham Asylum, but luckily it’s not needed as much. Whether you’re trying to find where to go next, or trying to find that crack in the wall that will lead you to the next part of your case, Detective Mode helps you there. Speaking of helping to get to the next part of your case, the gliding in this game is superb, it’s definitely a HUGE improvement from Arkham Asylum, the added nose dive and other attacks like Shockwave or the always satisfying Dive Bomb Tackle. The gadgets are also back in full force with plenty of new extras. The Batarangs (Remote Control, Sonic and Ol’ Reliable) are back as well as the Batclaw, Explosive Gel, Cryptographic Sequencer and Line Launcher too. However, we’ve also got new ones such as Freeze Blast, a specifically designed Freeze Grenade that does…what else? Freezes people. You can also find later on in the game a Freeze Cluster that freezes multiple people in the area as opposed to one poor bastard. The final new gadget is the REC (Remote Electrical Charge) that will shoot people, help you figure out certain puzzles, open electrical fences and dispatch of those pesky riddler trophies you can’t seem to find enough of, Seriously Riddler, what the fuck? All in all the gameplay is perfect, 100% perfect. You feel like you are The Batman, upgrading your suit gradually just to get it more torn and tattered by the end, like a true hero!

The sound plays a big part in this game. You have to listen to the guards, their footsteps and even at times certain things that people say while gliding around the City. You’ve got to listen for quite a bit of things just like, *gasp* The Batman? Surely this must be a mistake, but it’s not. You’re him. The punches and kicks, the breaking of bones and sounds of the last hits as they make thugs’ spinal cords go numb are all so realistic and satisfying. The music only adds to this atmosphere. From the main theme song, all the way to the final boss sequence it’s epic in its delivery and its Batman style. It has hints of The Animated Series and even the movies all mixed into one. Oh and before I close out with my final verdict I can’t sit there and not mention the amazing voice acting by everyone involved. From the strongest of the strong in Mark Hamill’s Joker and Kevin Conroy’s Batman, to others like Tara Strong’s Harley Quinn (betcha didn’t know she isn’t the original Harley Quinn voice, did ya?) and Corey Burton’s Hugo Strange. The entire cast as a whole does a phenomenal job of capturing the spirit of the movies and television show.

I am Vengeance...I am the Night...I...am....Batman!

It’s worth noting that writer Paul Dini worked on both Asylum and City and it shows. Everyone involved does a tremendous job on the sequel to one of 2009’s Games of the Year.  Batman: Arkham City is the tale of not only what you can do right, but what you can build upon. Licensed games are usually the butt of the joke in the Video Game world but Arkham City punches that stereotype in the face and hauls it off to rot for its misdeeds. Sitting here now, I can’t tell you how great Uncharted 3 will be, I can’t tell you how amazing Skyrim or Skyward Sword will be, but I can tell you this, Batman: Arkham City is without a doubt one of the best games to inhabit this earth.

Rating: Buy It
Final Words: Let all other licensed games beware, Batman: Arkham City only knows Justice.

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About Thief92

Thief92 is a media soak. He is a recent High School Graduate, going to be attending College in the fall for Video Game Design and Journalism and loves Video Games, Movies and Television View all posts by Thief92

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