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The Dark Knight Returns

  • Nov 17, 2011
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When the original Arkham Asylum came out in 2009 it more or less took the gaming world by storm. It did so for two reasons. The first was that before Arkham Asylum most of us couldn't remember the last time Batman was actually given a good game. The second was that it was a very well put together game. A game that, for the most part, is hard to follow up. Arkham City does the original justice. It's bigger (definitely) but most of all it retains much of the same charm.

The story here is actually amusing in some ways. The game is set one year after the events of Arkham Asylum where Warden Sharp is now the mayor. After the events of Arkham Asylum he has moved the prisoners to a new bigger place dubbed Arkham City. Here, the villains run around in a place where anarchy pretty much rules and somehow Batman finds himself in this madhouse. There are a ton of villains and a ton of story to undertake. There is a lot going on, but it's hard to say the story is quite as focused as the original game. It's a great story and all, but one of the things you'll notice about Arkham City right off the bat is that the game just might be a little too big to handle. It's stuffed to the brim with villains, most of whom don't get much screen time. This makes for less development of the villains but with a cast this big, going above and beyond in character development is harder. Some familiar faces return from Arkham Asylum as well. Nevertheless, though the villains may not have much development they are still strangely interesting because some of them are presented to us so well.

When you are traversing through the story, however, it's very well presented. Without a doubt one of Arkham City's finest achievements is the visual spectacle of it all. Everything is dark and gritty. Every last detail begs you to look at it. If there's one thing we can definitely say about Arkham City it's that it definitely pulls you into its fictional world with is amusing aesthetics and visual design. This is made better by the voice acting throughout the story. Certainly the game doesn't focus a little too much on the villains because there are a lot, but when you run into them they're voiced very well and the dialog is also very well written. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill return to reprise their roles of Batman and the Joker respectively. If you enjoyed the animated television series of the 90's you're more likely to enjoy Arkham City's overall presentation and story.

Batman Arkham City doesn't play too terribly different from Arkham Asylum. When in combat it can, at times feel like a button masher. You'll be able to string together long combos along with performing takedowns or counters to deliver the pain on your enemies. You'll also gain experience which you can use to level up and learn skills. If it were all about button mashing to get through the game, however, it wouldn't be quite as engaging in other ways.

Like Arkham Asylum before it, you can put on detective mode to learn more about your enemies in the area. This will allow you to see through walls, pinpoint enemies holding weapons or those who may be panicked... or even just using the mechanic to find secrets. And it is very easy to be sidetracked in Arkham City because not only is there the main story, but there are also side quests, Riddler tropies and riddles to solve as well. It is very possible to go through Arkham City and still have a lot of the game left to explore. The only real downside to detective mode is that you won't be able to admire the games visual presentation if you keep it on throughout the experience. And most players will find that detective mode is a very useful way to play the game as is.

There are, of course, other ways you can feel like Batman. As you go through the game you'll also find several gadgets, but more importantly certain areas have other means to go about them. Like Asylum, you can perform glide kicks, stealth takedowns and zipline across the level or use your grapple. There's a lot you can do but the way it all comes together is simple enough so that the player doesn't feel overwhelmed. There are even moments where the game puts a large emphasis on a strategic takedown of your enemies as opposed to always just dropping in and kicking butt. So even if you saw Arkham City as a button masher, it isn't likely to get you through the game anyway in areas where say... all the bad guys are using guns. Thanks to these moments as well as the gadgets and various amounts of villains there is a lot of variety here. The boss encounters you find yourself in are among the most unique in the game. For example, the encounter with Mr. Freeze puts you in the position of finding out various takedowns for him... but the same one will rarely work twice because he learns from his mistakes. Arkham City isn't exactly an easy game either. If you somehow manage to mess up, the game is always willing to provide you hints and help you out.

Arkham Asylum was a hard game to follow up. Mostly because it showed us how a Batman game should be done. Batman Arkham City is just as good. In some ways it's better. It's a lot of fun to play, has an amusing story, but most of all there's just a lot to do. Many a gamer will no doubt stumble through Arkham City and still leave a lot of ground uncovered. There's a lot of replay here... and a lot of exploring to do. The game is bigger and better but in a careful manner. It primarily keeps true to the things which worked so well in Arkham Asylum. If you played Arkham Asylum and enjoyed it, then Arkham City really does prove to be a worthy follow up.

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December 23, 2011
Sounds like it raises the bar yet again. For the most part, I only recall one or two Batman games before Arkham that anyone liked at all and both came out in the early '90s. I don't know if they plan to extend this series into multiple games (I read a definite third Arkham is in the works), but beyond that I wonder how long they can manage to keep churning these out at the same level of quality.
December 02, 2011
I haven't played this yet, but I will as soon as someone gives it to me as a X'mas present LOL!
December 02, 2011
played the new Elder Scrolls game yet?
More Batman: Arkham City reviews
review by . November 15, 2011
BATMAN ARKHAM CITY is the sequel to the video game BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM. In that game, Joker had masterminded a scheme that trapped Batman in Arkham while the inmates ran loose. It ended in a climatic showdown between Joker and Batman. BATMAN ARKHAM CITY takes places a year later. Arkham Asylum has been razed and Hugo Strange in partnership with Mayor Quincy Sharp (the former warden of Arkham Asylum) has bought much of old Gotham City and transformed it into a massive prison for criminals and the …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Batman: Arkham City is the upcoming sequel to action-adventure stealth video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, based on DC Comics' Batman for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. It is being developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Comics. The game was officially announced during the beginning of the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards. It is currently scheduled to be released in Q3 2011.
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Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, DC Comics
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Console: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Genre: Action Adventure

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