When the dust settled and my body recouped from the onslaught of goons in Arkham Asylum, the next challenge reared its beautiful head. I’ve accepted the responsibility of becoming The Bat, I wear the mantle with pride (no tears were shed on this occasion as it would ruin the guy liner beneath the mask), and I will continue to uphold the promise I made to Gotham.
That promise being “I’ll try not to break things whilst I fling my body across the skies at speed”.
For the most part I kept that promise, but what the game wants, the game gets.
The story begins with you breaking into an apartment, wearing a sleek black number, some goggles, and a whip. Aside from the whip, it’s almost as if I’m actually talking about Batman, but no, you start off playfully whipping some of Two-Face’s goons as Catwoman, before eventually getting caught out by the man himself and tied up. I swear, this is actually in the game and not some fantasy of mine.
Picture by Stickeroid
If that wasn’t enough, you’re then thrown into the deeper end; ‘naked’, alone, and cuffed (average Weekend antics for some of us).
It doesn’t take long for muscle memory to kick into overdrive, and if you’re as impatient as me, trying to use moves you’re yet to unlock, leading you to punch the air, counter nothing, and get smacked around a bit.
Before we continue, I must point out that I did the bare minimum to get through this game, apart from one set of side missions that, in my opinion, are necessary. This specific set of quests that I shall not name (to keep the mystery alive) provide an almost essential tool to flying around a city that has an endless array of Empire State Building-esque towers.
Picture by Comicsverse
It doesn’t take long for you to put aside your alter ego of Bruce Wayne, and slip into something more comfortable, and NOW the game begins.
Not much has changed in terms of combat between Arkham Asylum and City, but why would it? For once we have a game series that abides by the “ain’t broke don’t fix it” motto. You’ll notice that there are a few differences in attacks, the ability to counter multiple opponents, but personally I’m happy for it to stay this way. The main focus lies on the ability to glide across rooftops, grappling around and dive bombing those poor, poor, unsuspecting goons.
The addition of City gliding has expanded the game more than you can imagine, and with each corner you explore, more, and more content reveals itself. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed, bad guys will remain bad guys, and the poor civilians will always open themselves up to being saved.
Unlike Arkham Asylum, the boss fights can be incredibly tough, I found myself getting irritable, childishly mocking the voice actors who look down on you during the “You Died” screens. This isn’t to say a one-on-one boss fight is difficult, no, but the villains definitely learnt their lessons and swarm you with millions (I swear it’s millions) of brutish looking thugs. Now, if you’re like me, and you think armor is for the weak, you’ll soon regret your stubbornness. After around the 45% completion mark, I gave in, I purchased the combat armor. There aren’t many times in a game that I’ve had to take a deep breath and talk my way through the tactics, I mean, this isn’t WoW, I’m not fighting a boss with 600m health points, nobody is spewing fire in my face… why do I suck?
Enough doubt, positivity always wins – that and viciously screaming your way through a fight until it goes your way.
Eventually you push through – of course – and with that, more story unveils itself, and… my word. The last game that really took my breath away story wise the way Arkham City did, was Spec Ops: The Line – twists, turns, and the occasional moment where you can’t help but gasp at what has transpired.
I can’t bring myself to talk about what happens specifically, or who’s involved, what I can tell you though, is that if you want a game that builds on its prequel, and offers the same, but so much more. It’s impossible to go wrong with Arkham City.
I give it a perfect 5/7