Rocksteady has really risen in the past few years from the ashes of former Argonaut developers, makers of Croc and Buck Bumble! Now they are a premiere AAA developer and have done for Video Games what Christopher Nolan has done for Movies and Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and co. have done for animation, Bring forth the best representation of Batman that medium has ever seen.
Batman: Arkham City is the follow up to the 2009 hit Batman: Arkham Asylum, both in plot and gameplay. Some time has passed since the events of the last game, Mayor Sharp has given the new warden Hugo Strange free reign to seal off a section of Gotham City and convert it into a massive prison city. More than just criminals are thrown in though, political adversaries of Strange also get tossed in and fed to the proverbial wolves, including Bruce Wayne. To bad for the inmates they don’t know that you are the godamn Batman.
The title once again uses a modified version of the Unreal 3 engine to craft its world, one five times as large as last game. The details and draw distance are all very impressive, as is the little effects of your costume getting damaged over time and snow drifting onto your cape as you hover through the air. Even more impressive is the voice work, returning the de facto actors of both Batman and Joker, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill respectively. Still the other members of the cast are all really damn good as well. My only nitpick would not be casting the David Warner but I don’t want to spoil to much. The music score is much more boisterous and memorable this time as well. Striking a balance between Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman in tone and style.
While the last game played very much like a third person Metroid along with all its other influences, this time Arkham City plays like a modern day Zelda. The city is your overworld and certain large structures housing famous villains are your dungeons. You also slowly acquire new gadgets to help you progress through the world like in Zelda and Metroid. Thankfully however, you retain a large portion of your old gear from last time. The big new mechanic available right away is the hover mechanics, taking a page from Spiderman and Pilowings, navigating Arkham City with your cape and grapple hook is a breeze and doesn’t make you miss the Batmobile or Batwing at all.
Even more impressive from its standard Zelda structure is how well thought out and deep the side stories are. Foes such as Riddler, Bane, and Zsaz are all intricately designed and provide a really fleshed out story all on their own. There are even more then those listed, but I would be spoiling to say more. Combat and sneaking are largely the same as last time, using detective mode becomes a major asset in taking out enemies stealthy. There is less reliance on it this time, but you will still get a lot of use out of it. Combat works in pretty much the same manner but new animations and takedowns help liven things up.
To put it all together, Batman: Arkham City takes the same great stealth and beat em up gameplay of the previous title, expands the scope and progress structure of the series as well providing a gorgeous soundtrack, top of the line voice acting, and gritty visuals. It all adds up in the end and without a doubt this is the best Batman, and superhero based game yet.
Final Verdict: Buy
Batman: Arkham City lives up to the hype and provides fans the absolute best representation of the character seen yet. If you know nothing about Batman you will still get a whole lot out of this game, it is that good and the mark of a true gem.