Game Review: Batman: Arkham City

Title: Batman: Arkham City

Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment

Developer: Rocksteady Studios

Platform: PS3, XBox 360

The Dark Knight returns in the sequel to 2009’s Game Of The Year, and moreover, the Guinness World Record holder for most critically acclaimed superhero game of all time. Such an impressive legacy ensures that Batman: Arkham City has a huge amount to live up to. For the most part, it really does deliver. The developers have kept the engine, controls and camera work. The overall presentation is the same; you even get to keep many of the gadgets unlocked in the first game, with new and interesting gadgets introduced to overcome new obstacles, specialised foes etc.

The all-too overlooked philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is embodied here. Instead of a major re-haul, the developers have tried to expand both the world and the scope of the game, opening it up further with many more upgrades, locations, attacks, Riddler challenges, elbows to dislocate, side missions and in-world events such as assaults against the unfortunate political prisoners of Arkham City, who no doubt are forced to make a living picking up soap in Gotham’s newly founded prison city. The inclusion of the few Cat Woman story missions is a nice addition, although only available to those who buy the game first hand (those left out may feel a bit cheated). However, this forces the buyer through the annoying process of having to download and installing the DLC from the online store, a mean little tactic employed to discourage second hand buying, which cuts the publisher and developer out of the profits.

Expanding this game into more of a free-roaming sand-box adventure has meant a slight loss in focus with regards the narrative, which doesn’t quite have the weight and engaging qualities of the first. This is perhaps due to the short screen time each super villain gets, each one feeling slightly more like a cameo than a proper confrontation. The player may find themselves longing for encounters such as that of Scarecrow from the first game, or the pervading atmosphere of lunacy provided by an omnipresent Joker watching your every move. The Joker’s overall presence in the game has also been greatly diminished.

All that said, this game is another incredible achievement for Rocksteady Studios. Its game play is just as satisfying and rewarding as the first, and there are literally hundreds of challenges, side missions and trophies for the hard-core collectors to amass, and equally rewarding Easter eggs for the most die-hard of comic book fans. Rocksteady have not only created an amazing game, but have also perfected a new medium through which fans, no matter how discerning, can enjoy the Batman universe.

Score: 4.5 / 5

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