Batman: Arkham City Review

Batman: Arkham City is perhaps the best comic adaptation I have ever seen. It has more scope than the Nolan Batman movies, more villains than the X-Men movies, and gives you a better sense of being a superhero than any other video game has.

The rough plot is simple: the former warden of Arkham Asylum has been elected mayor and closed off a large section of the city. Then, every single prisoner from the asylum and the regular prison has been deposited in the new facility to survive or not, as best as they can. Think Escape From New York with better special effects and super villains. Obviously, things go poorly, and Batman sets out to save the day.

 


Mechanically, this feels very similar to Batman: Arkham Asylum, which previously held the title for best comic book video game. You have played Arkham Asylum, right? If not, go play it now. I’ll wait. For those of you who can’t follow simple instructions, Arkham Asylum tasked Batman with stopping the Joker’s takeover of the eponymous asylum. Gameplay was divided between delivering a savage beating to a room full of thugs and silently eliminating armed inmates one at a time. The first game didn’t make you feel like you were controlling Batman; it made you feel like you were Batman.

The sequel picks up shortly after the (somewhat disappointing) end of the first game and grabbed me right from the start. The story is crazy, the villains are disturbing, and Batman is relentless. I could spend some time talking about the small problems I had with the story or the frustrating boss fights that didn’t quite fit the game, but that might give you the impression that my opinion of this game is mixed. Those small problems exist, and I don’t care. I loved this game.

The combat is satisfyingly difficult. You don’t have to be perfect (Crom knows I wasn’t), but you do have to be good. The stealth sequences are challenging and force you to get creative. As you progress in the story, you unlock some new toys, but the opposition does, too. There are a few moments where you get to be gloriously unstoppable, but I confronted many scenarios where my first, second, and third thoughts were: Holy crap, Batman! Wait, what? How am I going to beat this section? The thing is, after I got past them, I always, Always, felt like the coolest guy in town. Then, I remembered that I was playing a Batman game in my Joker slippers, and I knew it was true.

I don’t want to talk about the story, because I am lazy there are some real surprises. This is difficult to pull off in a story set in such a rigidly defined universe. Instead, I will mention that the great Mark Hamill reprises his perfect rendition of the Joker. Much as I loved Ledger’s Joker, I grew up with Hamill’s. Kevin Conroy is still the only man to get Batman’s voice right. Also impressive is the only voice actor in video games, Nolan North as Penguin. (Seriously, I was going to link to all his video game work, but the list is actually too long for the joke to work.) This is the first time that I have felt genuinely frightened by the diminutive ornithologikiller. (Ed. I don’t think that’s a real word.) I was impressed by all of the performances.

For all the talk the DCnU has generated about doing new and fresh things with their characters, nothing in the new 52 feels as fresh as this game. By the end, he is bruised, beaten, and nearly broken, but the bat stands tall. (Ed. Seriously? That was a ridiculous closing line. How about something like: This is one of the best games I’ve ever played and is well worth your time?)

Last modified on Friday, 21 June 2013 01:34

Ben Rhodes, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor

Favorite Book:  Cryptonomicon
Favorite MovieYoung Frankenstein
Favorite Absolutely Everything:  Monty Python

Go to top