Batman fans, this is the real deal for you. It has many Easter eggs and an adundance of DC Universe references in dialogue and just about every Batman villain you could care about all put together in one epic game. If you love Batman, trust me, you will love Arkham City. But if you are one of those unfortunate people that has never heard of Batman, you will still love this game. If Rocksteady Studios decides to make another sequel, they will have a very difficult time topping the package they have already given us here.
So what makes Arkham City a worthy successor to Arkham Asylum? The combat system has received tweaks and changes that draw it ever nearer to idealized perfection, the greater open world exploration makes you feel more like Batman and the game has a layer of polish that elevates it over the rest of the field.
The “freeflow” combat that was introduced in Arkham Asylum is brought back to life this time around, with a handful of amazing tweaks. Every single one of Batman’s trusty gadgets can be combined with his devastating punches and kicks with literally the push of a button. Trust me, it is awesome the diversity that you pull off when you beat up the bad guys. Combat feels good and the speed that you can engage enemies, defeat them and move on never allows the game to bog down.
The enviroments in Arkham City are beautifully grimey. Not to mention the expansive (and yes, we mean expansive) playground for Batman to run around and do his vengeful things. You will spend a good majority of your time flying from rooftop to rooftop, all while adding a grappling hook and some more gliding action. Almost so much that you will miss the superb detail that Rocksteady Studios has actually put into the city. Not to worry, however, as Catwoman you will explore the city on a far more street-level view. You will be able to whip around and cling to the side of buildings and beat down the thugs with her handful of cat burglar tricks and gadgets. The Catwoman sections add that little bit extra awesomeness to the game that really elevates it over Arkham Asylum. . Rocksteady made more than a Batman game, they made a Batman Universe game.
Arkham City will run you about 15 hours or so if you play through story mode and do a few extra side quests. If you want to 100% the game, then make yourself comfortable because there is a lot (and I really do mean, a lot) of Riddler trophies, side missions and activities over every nook and cranny in Arkham City; the freedom and amount of extras will feel like an impossible task to some and can also overwhelm and intimidate if you don’t pace yourself. The game does fall a bit prey to the idea that more is better and can overwhelm players with a multitude of side missions and activities. A quick look at the map in the first few hours of the game can cause some shock; there are staggering amount of icons and notifications thrown just about everywhere on the map (and honestly, it is quite impressive). It is not only the game’s blessing, but also its curse. One of those aspects that’s just too much is the sizable increase of Riddler trophies spread around every corner of the city. I would rather have had 100 trophies that were hard to find rather than 400 trophies scattered across every foot of the landscape.
The only slight disappointment that I got from Arkham City was the final act. Without giving spoilers, I will say that the story slowly builds tension about the situation inside the walls of Arkham City, but towards the end, you are bombarded with information and actions and then it comes to a quick, abrupt end. Rocksteady got perhaps a bit too marries into the idea that Arkham City needs every Batman villain they can think of and when they tried to wrap it all together in the end, it just became confusing and the payoff didnt’t quite work.
Even with my concerns about the story’s quick resolution, the enemy round robin and the plethora of Riddler trophies, I think Batman: Arkham City is one of the best games of the year and easily a top contender for Game of the Year. Unlike Spider-Man: Edge of Time, which didn’t impart a feeling of actually being Spider-Man, Batman: Arkham City makes you feel like Batman to the bone: the gadgets, the terrorizing of thugs, the epic conflicts with over-the-top villains. I’ve never felt like a superhero more in my life and that’s a good thing.