Video Game Review – Batman: Arkham City

Plot: Sequel to 2009’s Arkham Asylum.  After the events on Arkham Asylum, Gotham officials have cut off a section of the city dubbed ‘Arkham City,’ where all of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals are now held.  The facility is run by the deranged Dr. Hugo Strange (Corey Burton) who has plans for Arkham City that Batman (Kevin Conroy) must uncover while many of his major adversaries try and destroy him, including the Joker (Mark Hamill).

I never dreamed a Batman video game could be this good.  If you are a die hard Batman fan, this game was made for you.  Aside from training around the world for a decade and being a billionaire, this is the closest you’ll ever get to becoming Batman.  Despite its terrible and anti-climactic ending, 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum was the best non-multiplayer game to come out in years.  This game takes everything that was great about Arkham Asylum and makes it not just a little better, but significantly better.

The game play is flawless.  Moving around and fighting is smooth as can be.  And even though you fight a group of thugs 900 times in this game, it never gets old.  The countering system they introduced in Arkam Asylum was very good, but I can’t even put into words how unbelievable it is in Arkham City.  It’s so satisfying to elbow two guys behind you, grab their heads, and then slam them to the ground.

The parts in which you truly get to be Batman is when you’re sneaking around and taking out enemies without other thugs seeing you.  Silent takedowns were all present in the first game, but here, it just feels fresh again.

And what Batman video game would be complete without gadgets.  What I love about Arkham City is you basically start with all the gadgets you ended with from Arkham Asylum, and you just get to add more stuff.  The introduction of the smoke pellet is pretty awesome.  The two gadgets that are stand outs for me though are controlling the remote control batarang and the line launcher, which was in the original game, but in this, after you launch a line, you can launch another one while zip lining.  Batman does an awesome little flip maneuver to transition into this.  It’s so bad ass.

One of the drawbacks to Arkham Asylum is that you’re relegated to only Arkham Asylum.  The environments got kind of repetitive.  Here, it’s basically Gotham City…a vast improvement.  There’s nothing better than gliding around the city.

As far as the story goes, I liked the story to Arkham Asylum, but I wasn’t blown away.  In this one…I’m blown away.  Aside from Zelda games, I’m not one who gets into the story for a video game.  I like simple games and don’t need ten minute cut scenes.  I’ll watch a movie if I want that.  But in this, I was really invested in the plot.  It’s a fantastic Batman story, and the voice acting (especially Conroy and Hamill) is through the roof.  They cram so many big time Batman villains into this, yet none of them feel forced.  They all serve a great purpose to the story.  And when you get into a boss fight with a villain, the game delivers in spades.  Each boss gets his own unique battle, and its just so much damn fun!  There were a couple major Batman villains I felt got short changed though, and once again the Riddler is relegated to bonus challenges.  I’d like to see him in the main game, but oh well.

Speaking of the Riddler, this game is packed to the brim with bonus stuff.  There are side missions, challenge maps, Riddler challenges, and a Catwoman mode.  I’ve barely scratched the surface on the bonus material, but I definitely plan on conquering them at some point, and trust me, I am not one to do that in a video game.  Once I beat the game, I’m done.  But Arkham City…I’ll be back time and time again.

The only other thing I want to touch on is the ending, but I won’t give anything away.  When I played Arkham Asylum, I was devastated by how lame the final boss battle was.  It nearly ruined a great game.  In this game, I have mixed feelings.  Basically, there are two things that happen at the end.  One of them was AWESOME, and something I totally didn’t see coming.  The other is tough to talk about, because while I think it was a good story ending, it’s not a good video game ending.  But all in all, the ending satisfied me, unlike the crap they pulled in Arkham Asylum.

If you’re a big video game fan, you should play this game.  But if you’re a Batman fan…you have to play this game.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10 (OMG, OMG)

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