- Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
- Developer: Rocksteady
- ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
- Genre: Action
- Pros: Tons of stuff to do; lots of villains; great presentation; Catwoman; fun combat;
- Cons: Easy boss fights; still gotta lean on detective mode
Story and Setting
Arkham City takes place in a new super prison called, you guessed it, Arkham City, which is basically a large walled-off area in the middle of Gotham City. Why would anyone build a prison to hold everyone from everyday criminals on up to super villains in the middle of a major city? Who knows? And why do the prisoners have access to weapons? Well, Bruce Wayne asks those same questions and is thrown into Arkham City as a prisoner. He quickly escapes, calls Alfred to drop in his Batman equipment, and sets out to find out just what is really going on in Arkham City. It turns out the prison is just a front for other things with Batman's rogues gallery pulling the strings, but not necessarily all working together.
The story isn't as strong and focused as Arkham Asylum, but it uses Batman's super villains in more interesting ways, so it evens out. The story itself is kind of short, but the game is filled with side missions, hundreds of hidden Riddler Trophies and objectives, training missions, and more. You can beat the story and only have 30% game completion, which means there is a ton more to do. Add on top of all of that the challenge missions for not just Batman but some other characters as well, and you have a huge game full of things to do.
If you buy the game new (though GameStop says they will also include codes with used copies as well) you get a download code to add Catwoman missions into the story. Catwoman plays rather differently from Batman and her handful of missions mesh with the main game story surprisingly well. And, darn it, she looks great doing it. I wouldn't mind a full Catwoman game where you get to sneak around and steal stuff. Make it happen!
While the game plays fairly differently from Arkham Asylum when you're out in the city, in the many building interiors it plays pretty much the same. Batman has a lot more moves and gadgets at his disposal in Arkham City, but the same stealth / action gameplay where you hop around from one ridiculously out of place gargoyle to the next while taking enemies out one-by-one is still the core. Sometimes you'll come across a room full of enemies and forget stealth and just fight them all at once, and thanks to the great flowing combat mixed with gadgets mapped to hotkeys, you can pummel a dozen bad guys with style. Tougher enemies with guns or blades or electric prods require different tactics, and the game does a good job of mixing the enemy types up to always keep you on your toes.
One thing that has to be said, though, is that Arkham City is kind of an easy game overall. Batman can take out generic thugs with such ease that they literally never pose a problem. Well, a city block full of snipers late in the game is a bit more challenging, but even then you can take them out easily if you're patient. Patience is a key word here because if you take your time you can get through most of the interior stealth sections (as Batman or Catwoman) without even raising an alert. It is easy. Easier than Arkham Asylum. This translates over to boss fights as well. Perhaps it is because the boss fights are reasonably realistic - it takes just a few hits to take out many bosses - which makes everything seem remarkably easy.
The flip side to this, of course, is that you are the goddamn Batman so things should be easy for him. Arkham City makes you feel more like an actual superhero capable of doing literally anything better than just about any other comic book game yet. You feel powerful and unstoppable, which is a ton of fun. It is easy, but freaking great because of it. And if you want more difficulty, the multitude of challenge missions you unlock will more than deliver on that end.
Graphics $ Sound
The sound is also absolutely fantastic here. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, as Batman and Joker respectively, do a great job. All of the voice acting for the big names (villains and handful of heroes) is solid, but the generic thugs all kinda sound the same and repeat the same whiny dialogue too much. The music and sound effects are perfectly Batman.
Also worth noting is that the load times are surprisingly short. Out in the city there is no loading at all. When you enter one of the handful of interiors, there is a brief pause as the game loads, but it is very quick.