Review: Batman: Arkham City

By Robert Bayley

If you want to save yourself some time, don’t read any further, just go out and buy this game. If you don’t have a console that can run it, this is all the reason you need to go and get one.

If you’ve been living in a bunker for the last year you might not be up to speed with the situation. 73 years ago, Batman, the world’s greatest detective was unleashed upon the world in Detective Comics and since then the Dark Knight has been adapted into every type of media imaginable.

This is the sequel to 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, considered an instant classic in its own right. This takes the basic premise of Batman on a quest around  an old fashioned loony bin and as the title suggests, amps the scale up massively.

But its not just the scale of the sanatorium that’s been given a good going over. There were several mechanics in the last game that niggled.

Arkham Asylum was so incredible first time through these were barely noticeable, but later on it became annoying that you couldn’t fire grapnels mid-glide, meaning stop-start movement. Combat was almost flawless aside from the inability to counter knife attacks; why not? He’s Batman!

Arkham City has taken all that was great about the original and improved upon it. You’re now able to fire grapnels mid-glide to structures repeatedly making traversing Arkham City a thrilling itself.

Likewise knife-thugs aren’t now only counter-able but you’re able to snatch knives, baseball bats and guns and break them apart so they’re unusable to opponents.

Its also no longer instant death as it so often was when a goon trained a gun on you and started blasting; Batman is now equipped with smoke pellets allowing much easier escape from gun-toting villains.

Design work on the characters is also flawless. As ever Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are on fire as Batman and the Joker respectively but after playing this game they’re surely now the definitive screen portrayals of the Caped Crusader and the Clown Prince of Crime, outdoing even Bale and Ledger.

To show just how good the character design work has been on this they’ve managed to make even The Penguin and The Riddler genuinely threatening characters.

The story is brilliantly written but does have some short-comings; the fact it takes place over one night not only robs the narrative of a more epic tone but doesn’t make sense; it would be impossible to actually do the main story alone in one night.

Likewise two sudden appearances of major villains who were manipulating things behind the scenes is deus ex machina but these are small potatoes when the ending is as emotionally powerful and affecting as it is. Come the final sequence you will feel you’ve lost a friend and this is no joke; it comes close to grief.

This is an incredible game and one that everyone, Batman fan, action fan, even gaming fan or not, needs to experience right now.

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