Batman: Arkham City (2011), video game review.
For this review I am trying a slightly different review format. Some of you may recognize it from IGN and that is because I’m using that same format. Please leave comments on how you like it…
Batman: Arkham City has been flashing off and back onto my radar for the past few months. For awhile it was something I didn’t care about, then it was my most anticipated game of the year, but then, right before its release, it dropped completely off my radar and I lost all interest. Despite that my curiosity got the better of me and on release day I got the opportunity to play some of the game’s beginning. But after playing it for maybe twenty minutes I grew bored and disappointed. I stopped playing and all thoughts of a possible purchase were wiped clean from my mind.
A few weeks later I walked into a movie rental store, and right in front of me on a shelf was Arkham City. So despite my initial bad feelings towards the game I decided to give it a second chance. And so I walked out of that video store that day with a copy of Batman: Arkham City on PS3 clutched in one hand.
For starters I think that the game has a very good opening sequence. But this quickly tapers off into some underwhelming encounters and badly written dialogue. This continued more or less throughout the entirety of the game. The fights do get better but the majority of the dialogue I found to be pretty groan inducing, with the exception of the Joker’s dialogue.
Arkham City seemed to have a hard time finding a good pace at which to unfold. The game is too quick to introduce new characters and some of the characters are vastly underdeveloped. At times it seemed like the writers were trying to cram as many different Batman characters as they could into a ten-hour campaign. It got to the point that I was rolling my eyes as each new character was introduced. But not only did this annoy me it also hurt the game’s narrative. And at the end of the day, with all of the many characters that were underdeveloped and the near constant stream of new characters to take their place, I really didn’t enjoy the story as much as I thought I would have.
From throughout the whole game, the two sections that I felt stood out were the beginning…and the end.
Luckily for all the missteps that were made in regards to the story, the gameplay all but makes up for it. Arkham City has one of, if not the best hand-to-hand combat in gaming. Fighting a group of thugs feels less like a button masher, and more like an art-form. Racking up a larger and larger multiplier has never felt so good. And the ease at which I was able to control Batman meant that anytime I was dying it was 100% my fault. As great as the combat feels it didn’t really set in until a third or so of the way through the game. Through locking or lack of education I was able to completely utilize the game’s great melee system until well into the game.
I was able make my way through the combat even if I wasn’t as good as it later got. But when it came to traversal this was not the way. The two most important techniques for traversal were, one, hidden behind optional side-missions, and two, not well explained until a good ways into the game. It seems a little strange that these two core mechanics were so poorly given to me because once they were in place, and I was able to soar through the sky like Batty might actually, I was having a much better time.
It might be just me, but one of my favorite parts of the first Batman: Arkham game was going back to a previously inaccessible area with a new gadget a reaping the rewards. But with Arkham City’s new open-worldish setting there didn’t seem to be as much of that this time around. There were still things (such as Riddler trophies) to collect, but because there were so many of them, I never really had those moments I had in the first game were I would see something in the game that I clearly couldn’t access, but then I would chronicle it in my mind so I could come back later. No this time would practically trip over a new challenge anywhere I walked. And if I could solve it, great, if not, oh well.
During my playthrough of the last game I spent an awful lot of time in detective mode. While I got to see useful things such as the locations of enemies and other important things, this made the game drastic less ecstatically pleasing. I got those bit of key information but the whole world turned blue and lost detail. I did still spend perhaps too much time in detective mode in Arkham City, but due to some tweaks to make doing so a little less appealing, I spent much more of my time staring, wide-eyed, at the game’s drop dead gorgeous vistas. The character models might not be on the same level as the landscapes, but the game has some of the best graphics in the business. The only thing ruining the skyline of Arkham City is the hundreds giant, idiotic, green Riddler question marks scattered about.
The game feels like it was designed to be played more than once. But this isn’t always a good thing. Some mechanics felt like they expected you to already know them, and others were pointlessly locked. The pacing and dialogue writing also felt at times like it needed some work. In spite of all that, the game is stunning in its beauty and the combat is second to few.
The game has a very solid opening, but it seems like after the basic tutorial they figured that the player know all they need to when they really don’t.
If it weren’t for a few of the character models and the annoy Riddler questions marks that are everywhere this would probably by the best looking game on the market.
The game has a very good score and sound effects, but some of the writing and voice acting was more cheesy than enjoyable.
Once you get everything you need to enjoy it, the game itself is a hell of a blast, but before so there is some thing markedly missing.
Lasting Appeal: 9/10
In a single playthrough there is a ton to do but the game also begs to be played again in New Game +.
8.5 out of 10.