Uncategorized,  Video Games

Batman: Arkham City Review

*Also includes a review of the Catwoman

Arkham City
(2011) is the sequel to Batman:
Arkham Asylum
and it takes everything from the first game and improves upon
it.  Arkham
also adds new elements that keeps things fresh and exciting.
      The game’s main storyline involves Batman
getting imprisoned in Arkham City, a new supermax prison that was built in the
aftermath of the first game. Arkham City is a walled off and rundown section of
Gotham City where the city’s criminals are incarcerated (anybody who’s watched Escape from New York (1981) will be
familiar with this scenario). The Penguin, Two-Face, and the Joker’s gang are
all engaged in a three-way turf war with each other. Batman must figure out
what the mysterious warden Hugo Strange’s Protocol 10 plan is before the end of
the night and must fight his way through Arkham City in order to discover it. 
Catwoman allows players to embrace their inner anti-hero.

      Catwoman is a playable character in the
game’s campaign mode if she is purchased online. Her storyline involves
Catwoman attempting to break into one of the vault’s in Arkham City to regain
items that were taken from her by Hugo Strange’s guards.

Batman: Arkham City a whole new world to explore.

map is five times larger than Arkham
and the player can free roam around the city and take on various
missions and complete various challenges. Arkham City feels like a living and
breathing portion of Gotham City and it doesn’t let the player forget that
Batman is locked in there with a bunch of supervillains. The various sections
of the city reflect the personalities of the characters that control them. For instance,
the Joker’s turf is designed to look like a carnival.

       Rocksteady Studios uses the larger map
to give Batman more activities to do. The player can complete various side
missions that further enhance the world of Arkham City. These side missions
don’t distract from the overall narrative of the game and only give the player
a new and more engaging way to level up.        
The combat system gets a major upgrade in this game.

       The gameplay in Arkham City is still the gold standard for any action-adventure
game. The combat is much more fluid in this game than in Arkham Asylum. For whatever reason, I felt it was easier to score a
high combo in combat in Arkham City than
I did in Arkham Asylum. The new
combat moves and gadgets that Batman has in this game adds to the notion that
he is most comfortable when he’s on the streets of Gotham City. Another thing I
like about Arkham City’s gameplay is
how it starts off with Batman having all of the gadgets that he obtained in the
first game. One of my pet peeves when it comes to video game sequels is that
the game developer’s frequently start out the player at square one again
despite the fact that they worked hard in the first game to level up their character.
Catwoman’s portion of the game is great as well. Her fighting style feels
completely different from Batman’s. Catwoman’s fighting style is more athletic
than Batman’s, but it’s still brutally effective.

Batman’s fight against Mr. Freeze was one of the best boss fights of 2011.

       The weakest portions of Arkham Asylum were the boss battles. The
boss battles in that game were repetitive and boring. Arkham City remedies that by giving the player some of the most challenging
and fun boss battles that the seventh generation of video game consoles had
seen up to that point. The boss battle with Mr. Freeze in particular is one of
the game’s many highlights.

Batman and the Joker’s complex relationship is further explored in Batman: Arkham City

story is one of the video game medium’s finest. The story starts out
simple and gradually weaves a very complex yet coherent narrative that
culminates in one of the greatest endings in the history of video games.
Outside of the comics, no other medium has so deeply explored the complexities
of Batman and the Joker’s relationship. Batman and the Joker need each other.
Batman needs the Joker because he makes him a better crime fighter and the
Joker needs Batman because without him crime has no punchline.

No actor embodies the Joker quite like Mark Hamill.

       The voice acting in this game is second
to none. Kevin Conroy’s performance captures Batman’s increasing desperation as
he tries to uncover the plans for Protocol 10. However, it’s Mark Hammill’s
performance as the Joker that steals the show. It is without a doubt the finest
performance of Hamill’s career.  These
two men have defined these roles for a generation of fans and any actors that
have tried to fill their shoes have always fallen short.

Arkham City
is one of the greatest video games of all time. Very few video
game have been able to weave a complex narrative and deliver an action-packed
game like this. I highly recommend this game to any Batman fan and to any fan
of video games.            
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