Batman: Arkham City – Review (PS3)

Batman: Arkham Asylum blew everyone away upon it’s release in 2009. The thing that caught most people off guard was that this was a great superhero game. Of course we had Infamous, which was brilliant but there hadn’t been a decent game featuring a known comic book star for far too long.

That critical, and financial, success meant that the pressure on developers RockSteady was immense to deliver with the sequel – Arkham City.

Taking place in a city environment, as opposed to the enclosed Asylum setting of the first game, Arkham City sees Batman facing off against several well known villians. Of course The Joker is the main antagonist here, along with Hugo Strange, but you won’t be short of cameos from familiar faces.

The idea is that Strange has cordoned off a section of the city to use as a prison and keep all the inmates locked up there rather than house them within a single building.

Fortunately Batman has his grapple hook and cape to help him get around so you’re never too far away from your next mission. I struggled a little to get to grips with the mechanics for some of the air travel and on occasion it felt a little counter-intuative when compared to something like Just Cause 2.

Graphically the game looks great and the atmosphere is nicely set up with ambient noise coming in the form of rain and the chatter of henchmen, among other things.

There are a few missions of the game where you can play as Catwoman – basically a faster but slightly weaker version of Batman – but I found these to be uninspiring for the most part. Perhaps because I don’t know the character very well? Either way if you didn’t get them with your game (only new copies received the codes for download) I would say maybe give them a swerve unless you desperately want to play them.

The developers have stepped up the number of things you can do on the side – from Riddler trophies (there are now over 400 of them to find!) through to genuine side missions featuring new characters (I stumbled on a great one featuring The Mad Hatter). The amount of stuff to do can be a bit daunting but I would repeat the advice I heard from several sources – stick to the main story missions on the whole and then go back and do side stuff when you’ve finished the main missions.

I felt it took a little too long to unlock some of the better weapons/gadgets – I understand they don’t want to make the game too easy too quickly but at times early on I just couldn’t approach fight situations the way I wanted to.

For me that is a big draw of the game – being able to form a strategy and then strike in your own way. It’s a minor complaint and may not effect you if your play style suits what the game wants you to do at that time. For me it meant a fair few frustrating deaths until I nailed the fight the way the game wanted me to.

One other complaint is the fact that there is an alternative ending and I wish the developers had let you end the game that way. Why give you the choice only to then not let you live with the consequences. I’m not saying don’t give people the option to ‘rewind’ and reapproach the situation again but it would’ve been cool to have the choice to have that as your ending.

But I don’t want to dwell too long on the negatives because Arkham City is a really good game. You can tell the developers have tried to think of everything to improve upon the first game and they have delivered a bigger, more open and content packed title. The question is – after Arkham Asylum, was that what you wanted?

Rating: 8/10

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Batman: Arkham Asylum – Review (PS3)

Batman AA Main

It’s a sad state of affairs for the gaming industry when a title is being touted as ‘finally a brilliant superhero game.’ 😦

The amount of hero games that suck vastly outnumber the success stories… Iron Man, Superman – even the usually reliable Spiderman’s recent outings have been poor.

Sure, by all accounts (I’m yet to play it but will at some stage), the Wolverine game earlier this year was decent but it seems to be that The Dark Knight (with some help from the lads at Rocksteady Games) is the only one who is willing to stand up and be counted.

Batman AA 1 - Harley Quinn

Before I start getting into the nitty gritty let me just say that the finished game is miles better than the Demo. I can see with the demo that they were trying to show combat and stealth but believe me it all works a lot better in game.

So, with Arkham Asylum taking place in one night – is there enough here to keep people playing?

The answer is a resounding yes. With some wonderful voice acting from the cast of the animated series, Batman: Arkham Asylum’s story moves at a good pace and familiar enemies are used to good effect throughout.

You’ll be tasked with getting from a to b, taking out groups of henchman via hand to hand combat or using stealth. But it never, ever feels as simple as that.

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The combat itself is pretty cool, with square as attack and triangle as counter (to be activated when an opponent is about to attack). Batman will move seamlessly between opponents with you just pressing square and the direction of the enemy you want to hit.

Be warned though, one of the best things about this game is that guns do a hell of a lot of damage to Batman so you can’t storm armed opponents unless you want to die… lots.

You’ll also acquire a wonderful selection of weapons/gadgets such as the Batarang and the beautifully destructive explosive gel 😎

There are also some puzzle elements, usually involving the detective mode (like an x-ray vision that alerts you to points of interest) but none are too taxing thankfully.

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With such a vivid setting and a memorable selection of bad guys from Batman’s career it’s no surprise that Arkham Asylum is such a great game.

There are some stand out moments throughout the game but the encounters with Scarecrow certainly rank up there for me as some of the best gaming I’ve had this year.

Despite the odds being stacked against it, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a quality title that has had a lot of care put into making it. I’d recommend this to anyone, regardless of whether on not they are into the comics (I’m not btw).

Rating: 9/10

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