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swvjdirector

swvjdirector

4/24/2012 1:53:02 AM
Warning: This review will probably contain a few minor spoilers form Arkham Asylum. If you haven't played it and want to be surprised, don't read this. One more disclaimer: I KNOW this game came out a while ago. I just recently started doing reviews and wanted to review it. Please don't let me know when it came out, because I already stated it in the review. Batman: Arkham City Developer: Rocksteady Studios Release: October 18, 2011 Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC Graphics: Not only are the graphics and framerate fluid and beautiful, the level of detail rendered in Arkham City is staggering. Character models are also meticulous and varied. Sound: Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil return for their respective roles as Batman and the Joker. Both deliver knockout performances. Other villains and thugs are voiced extremely well, though a little more variation with the inmates would have been nice. The ambient sound effects also set the tone perfectly for each environment. Controls: Controlling Batman has only gotten easier. The combat in particular took some major leaps forward. The original Batman: Arkham Asylum was an incredible succes for an almost unheard of company. Rocksteady studios mad the risky move of taking on a dying game franchise with a spotty history. They then proceeded to not only create an excellent game and revive a game franchise, but craft one of the greatest superhero games ever. This all set the bar for Rocksteady to achieve with their sequel. Arkham City begins with an interesting plot twist: One of the main villains, Hugo Strange, is aware of Batman's identity. The game starts with a bang, capturing the feeling of seeing the asylum for the first time in Batman: Arkham Asylum while immediately getting the action rolling. Arkham City is the replacement to Arkham Asylum. A section of Gotham City has been walled off, and is now home to inmates and supervillains of Arkham Asylum. Diehard comic book fans will have lots to love, as Arkham City has plenty of hat tips to avid Batman fans. After some brief (but awesome) initial combat, Batman recieves all of the gadgets he previously possessed at the end of Arkham Asylum. This was nice, because I immediately felt empowered. After all, few things are worse in a superhero game than not feeling like a superhero. Shortly after Batman collects his gear, he begins a mission to rescue the other protagonist of the game: Catwoman. Aside from being a fairly significant character in the story, Catwoman is also a playable character. Each of the sequences involving Catwoman is fairly short, but each makes for an interesting view of what else is going on in Arkham City, as well as allowing you to play as a very unique character. Catwoman controls the same way Batman does, but her method of navigating the streets of Arkham City is differnt, and the combat feels significantly altered. These sequences are slightly more than a cameo, accounting for roughly ten percent of the game. If you didn't buy a new copy of the game, I highly reccomend that you purchase the Catwoman DLC before starting the game. The biggest change in Arkham City is the city itself. I was initially concerned that the move to a city would reduce the level of detail and quality of level design in the game. I'm pleased to say that I was dead wrong. If anything, the detail increased significantly. Snow gently drifts from the dark horizon to melt on your cape, thugs shiver and have conversations that interested me enough to stop dead on my way to the next destination just to listen, and Riddler challenges and sidequests are packed into the city fit to burst. The Riddler has been busy; he has even more trophies and puzzles than in Arkham Asylum, and this time around they require more effort than simply backtracking to an old location with the required gadget. Fortunately, Detective Mode allows you to tag trophies that you can't currently reach and mark them on your map, so you can return to them later. Environments are astounding; one area in particular (the museum) had some of the coolest architecture I've ever seen in a game. Navigating the city with Batman's gadgets and abilities is a blast, and is simply a massive improvement over the original. It's difficult to discuss most of the characters in the game, simply because I don't want to spoil any of the encounters or cast involved. The inmates and thugs of Arkham City all gravitate to various villains and form a makeshift army for that particular villain. These thugs will often be seen fighting or capturing one another. Each faction has unique character design to represent their leader. The enemies themselves are far more interesting to fight in Arkham City; many thugs are equipped with armor, riot shields, guns, or sharp items, and all involve different methods required for victory. Then there's the combat itself; Arkham City took the orginal game's already excellent combat and improved upon it. Batman can unlock new combat maneuvers and ways to apply his gadgets with the extensive experience system. Nearly every gadget can be applied in some way during combat, adding to the adrenaline-fueled rush of countering three guards at once while spraying explosive gel on another's back. Joker is still the star of the show, with a twist: The Titan he overdosed on in Arkham Asylum has made him sick, and he's rounding up all the doctors he can to find out what's wrong with him. The game's dark plotline only becomes grimmer as Batman's path connects with Joker and several other main villains. Without spoiling any other characters in Arkham City, I'll say this. I'm extremely pleased with both the main plotline's cast and the cameos involved in sidequests. The staggering amount of content in Arkham City could easily keep you playing for a hundred hours. It's worth noting that this game really is dark; some sequences (I'm going to picture this game every time I see a payphone) are as gripping and intense as the climax of most games. Unfortunately, my favorite scenes from Arkham Asylum, the Scarecrow sequences, are now gone. Admittedly, they wouldn't have been as scary or unique, but they really were one of the highlights of the original, and it's sad to see them go. WIth an amazing new setting, massively improved combat, Riddler challenges, exploration, and plenty of nods to comic book fans, as well as a shocking final encounter that wasn't the disappointment Arkham Asylum's was, this isn't just a great game: It's the best superhero game ever made. It's the sort of game I wish I could discuss with everyone, even non-gamers, and it deserves the hype of other successes in the Batman franchise such as The Dark Knight. The truth is that there really aren't any flaws worth mentioning. This is, hands down, one of my favorite games of all time, and will stand out as one of the finest gaming experiences of this console generation. Final Score: 10

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