Batman Arkham City
Thank you to the folks at Warner Bros.
Games and Rock Steady for all the cool peaks and press information
leading up to this games release. Batman Arkham City has arrived. With
this game raising the bar as it has, what can we hope for in another
Batman game? We know one thing for sure; Rocksteady is going to have a
heck of a time topping this one.
Interestingly enough if you played the heck out of Batman Arkham Asylum
and found Warden Quincy Sharp’s secret room, there are actually blue
prints of Quincy Sharps proposal for Arkham City. This secret room was
so well hidden many people never even knew it was there. Rocksteady
announced it in a game of the year pod cast months later. Just goes to
show how meticulous the folks at Rocksteady are when it comes to the
characters back stories.
Now here we are with
Batman Arkham City. This is the direct sequel to the superb first
chapter in the franchise Batman Arkham Asylum. The game seems to have
darker tones in the story line and that is just fine by me. It makes it
feel even more like I am part of The Dark knight stories we as a player
want to be a part of. Fans will be happy to know there is even more bat
play here with a longer single-player experience, even more leaderboard
challenge missions and a mind numbing amount of Riddler’s clues and
tricks. This adventure takes place a year after the events at Arkham
Asylum, and maybe not so surprisingly our then Warden Quincy Sharp has
spun the press and has taken full credit for reigning in the prisoners
and stopping The Joker.
Now Sharp has become the mayor of Gotham and brought about a
hair-brained scheme to create a whole walled area of Gotham to serve as
a prison. This part of the city is surrounded by private contractors to
patrol the parameter to keep the prisoners in. Prisoners are brought in
and given freedom to roam within this city as long as they do not try to
escape. The mayor has hired a psychiatrist, Hugo Strange to oversee
things. Anyone else think this whole city thing as a prison was a really
bad idea? Our hero of course, as he keeps watch over things just waiting
for it to get out of hand and of course with so many demented
personalities within the city sized prison, things go from bad to worse
in no time with the super villains carving out their own areas like a
We start out refreshingly enough not in cape and cowl, but as Bruce
Wayne. Wayne Uses his high profile billionaire playboy fame to protest
the creation of Arkham City. This does not sit well with Hugo Strange
who first appeared in Detective Comics #36, Strange does not take kindly
to Wayne and within moments of Wayne starting his protest speech, he is
abducted by some of Hugo Strange’s private military and dragged into
Arkham City. Eventually Wayne of course manages to get to a point where
he can get his gear delivered and suit up, now the Batman is on the
prowl to find out what is really going on.
Amidst of the hell that
is breaking loose Catwoman decides to go on her one Cat robbing spree,
Catwoman crosses paths with Two-Face, which of course lands her in hot
water, and the split opinioned villain is one with the idea of executing
our lady feline in public just to gain some villain points with the
underworld. Of course our hero who has a bit of a past with the curvy
cat can’t let that stand. The situation goes from worse to nuclear as
Batman goes in to stop the death of Catwoman.
Much like the first game, Arkham City is wide open to explore, while you
cannot go into every single building, the maps are rather huge. Roaming
about feels like you’re getting around a city, and for those buildings
that the players do get to explore, there is the tried and true Batman
opening the door cut scene while the new area loads. While this is a
superb game, just for some reason some times the graphics feel slightly
off. Making its predecessor Arkham Asylum in some ways looks more
polished in the graphics department, though Arkham city does grow on
you. Being outside a lot, there are some pretty nifty weather effects,
and you do feel like you’re traversing a city, a very dark dangerous
city, which matches the tone of the story.
Back once again are the choices to take on the direct approach and beat
bad guys to a pulp, or use the stealth and detective mode to glean out
information and do your take downs to strike fear into the cowardly
criminals. Free flow combat is back with a few more twists and very cool
new moves. Want Batman to slam a couple of bad guys heads together
rendering them unconscious? Well your Bat fantasy comes true here my
fellow Impulse Gamers.
The free flowing combat
styles are back and look better than ever with a few more special
attacks and take downs. Double take downs are pretty awesome, grabbing
two enemies and slamming their heads together is pretty darn satisfying.
There are a few other nifty things as well I won’t talk about them here
because I am a firm believer in not spilling all the beans in a game.
The fun of discovering new moves and counters is part of the thrill of
the game and of being Batman.
Droves of enemies won’t wait in line though to take on Batman, so some
strategic thinking may be in order especially since some of these goons
somehow got hold of firearms, such as shotguns and machineguns. Playing
the game with hints on, of course helps out as Batman thinks about what
to do to take thugs out in certain difficult situations such as a
One of my favorites is being able to call a flock of Bats to cause
mayhem on a group of enemies. There is one cool move that we have seen
sort of used in the movies as well as some of the animated series where
Batman makes a super dramatic entrance from a glide or dive from a high
place, startling the bad guys and making them jump back, giving Batman a
few seconds of a psychological edge on them. One of the new combat
enhancement gadgets actually intensifies this move with a shock wave
effect to knock enemies down. When I first saw this in just general game
footage before playing it in the game and seeing and experiencing it
game mechanic wise….I was apprehensive, and outright ready to be
disappointed. Because it looked like a Superman move, very un-Batman
I am pleased as punch to say that this enhancement looks and plays
great. Once again many of the moves and gadgets in the game are taken
from some of the best of what the Batman franchise as a whole as
generated over the years. From the comics, to film and animated series,
Batman Arkham City brings the quintessential Dark Knight to gamers
everywhere. It’s the ultimate game, an interactive movie experience
amalgamation of different artforms from visual, to storytelling, to
Oh no he just used the term artform about a game. I know the dozens on
dozens of folks that have a bunch of letters past their names in honor
of their studies and hard worked and well deserved accomplishments will
vomit out massive points of why they feel a video game is not an art
form…. That’s fine and well for them…everyone has their opinions on
that. I just know I do not need a third party telling me what I should
and should not consider art. So for those that do not feel it can be
considered art, that’s fine. It’s all good.
In Batman Arkham City
Getting around from place to place has become even more exciting now.
Gliding around seems to have been revamped, in mid glide if there is a
target in range Batman can go from gliding to a fast grapple line to a
roof top. Running and jumping and swooping from roof to roof is a blast.
There is also an exhilarating move that can be used to lose altitude
then soars back up again. It’s a kind of dive, Batman pulls his cape in
and streaks in a dive towards the ground, then flipping his cape open
again, up into the night he soars. The city has plenty of rooftops and
vantage points for our hero to use to get the lay of the land. Using a
page from one of the films, Batman can tune into radio frequencies and
also listen in on conversations from afar, adding yet another layer to
this awesome hero ride.
On top of the main games storyline, there are plenty of side missions
such as saving some political prisoners from being killed by the
denizens of Arkham City. I am very happy to report the Riddler is much
more of a dangerous menace this time around. Not just a diabolical
heckler. Sure the Riddler’s clues are back some 436 of them, I kid you
not. But the villain now takes on a more dangerous tone, Kidnapping
victims and taunting our hero to solve the riddles and find them before
they are killed in some diabolical death trap. If that was not bad
enough Victor Zsasz is back with some evil taunting side missions as
well involving mad dashes to phone booths to catch the call before it
stops ringing and then using some of Batman’s gadgets to try to
triangulate where the calls are originating.
Speaking of some of the things Batman does in the game, there are new
emphasis on Batman’s sleuthing abilities and gadgets to assist in crime
scene analysis. This is in addition to the detective mode from the first
game. Which is pretty awesome since there are so many new and different
things in this game it breaks it up and makes it that much more
Ah yes, as mentioned at the beginning of this there is of course a
curvy, very sexy cat in the mix too. Plus she is playable. Catwoman has
some of her own story and gameplay which is a spectacular welcome change
of pace. She has some of her own gadgets to play with, including her
signature whip. A very hot chick in leather and a whip, what’s not to
like? Catwoman also has Bolos and even caltrops in her arsenal. Her
fighting style is very close if not bang on Capoeira. Very solid
gameplay all around. Other DLC coming include Robin with three different
skins, which you can play in challenge modes, Nightwing is also coming
Oh yes, of course I
cannot come to a close on my thoughts about Batman Arkham City without
bringing up the voice acting. I contend to you, Kevin Conroy is Batman,
and Mark Hamill IS The Joker. As always these two bring these characters
to life like no other. Other voice actors in this production are just as
solid bringing a breadth and depth to the characters they are portraying
in this animated game adventure.
This review was done on the Batman Arkham City PS3 version; players with
a different preference can pick up the game on PS3, Xbox 360 or PC. All
of which support 3D gaming by the way.
Go Impulse Gamers be The Bat, Or The Cat….Batman Arkham City a game of
Have fun, play games.
Edwin Millheim United States Editor Impulse Gamer.