Finally a game reviewed which wasn’t released years and/or months ago. I’ve been spending my weekend playing Arkham City and this is what I think.
Upon writing this review I have just read that Arkham City has doubles the début sales of Arkham Asylum in the UK. Since I’m mentally stuck in the mid-Victorian era where Britain ruled the world. I like to think that the British are capable of knowing a good thing when they see one (bar the unthinking masses that watch awful television such as “Big Brother” and “The Only way is Essex”, but I digress). This act of materialism proves it. Arkham City is a good game. Not quite the game I would show off as the pinnacle of computer game evolution but defiantly the strongest contender for Game of the Year so far and with my other eagerly awaited sequel being pushed back to 2012 (Mass Effect 3 for those of you who care to read) it’s looking like it’s going to be a one horse race.
Arkham City takes what we loved from the Arkham Asylum and give us more of it. More Villains, More Heroes, More Gadgets, More Challenges, More cape “whoosh” noises. The biggest difference is that Arkham City gives us just that, a whole city in which to play with. Although the names Arkham Town or District Arkham would have been more appropriate given the size of the map but I guess they didn’t go down well with the focus group. Still, it’s bigger than what we had to play with back on Arkham Island.
With a whole “city” to play about with, Batman turns into a Sandbox game, meaning Individuo’s rule of Sanbox is valid. A sandbox game no matter how good the story will fall flat on it’s face if it is tedious and boring in getting from point A to point B. To show this I have 2 examples, 1st off the blocks, Mafia. As stories go I’ve not seen many if any gangster-based games top it but driving from point to point in what felt like a cardboard box tied to a sloth kind of killed it. My second example, InFamous, on the other hand had a story that was ok, nothing outstanding, but gliding along electrical wires and rail tracks to get between objectives was as fun as a barrel of chimps. Rocksteady looks like they copied their notes from Sucker Punch in this module and it shows in the way Batman travels around the city. Gliding around Arkham City is probably one of the things I found most fun about the game. Ducking and diving around obstacles, making that “Whoosh” sound. Almost makes you feel like a real super hero.
Did someone mention the story? No? Ok, but now that we are on the subject. I found the story to be very schizophrenic. At times it can be deep and drag you in like chocolate lesbian wrestling (especially around the end). Then other times (the first half in particular) it feels frantic and rushed as if the game is moving me on so I can meet as many characters in the Batman mythos as possible before time runs out. This is not surprising then given my biggest niggle about the game. It’s short. I played it for only 2-3hrs on the Friday, then played it again for another 3-4 hrs and found I had completed the game. I wasn’t even speed playing either, I was doing my best to mess around, try out some of the side quests, pick up a few Riddler trophies and solve a few of his riddles (I had roughly 120 of them when I finished the game). The story is compressed and concentrated as opposed to Heavy Rain which its more drawn out. Heavy Rain is more of a standard coffee while Arkham City is an espresso. Heavy Rain you casually sip at it, take your time and take in the flavour, while Arkham City, you drink it down in one go and let the caffeine go nuts on your brain.
Luckily for me my flat mate who bought the game bought the collectors edition so I’ve also had a play around with the Catwomen missions. I wasn’t expecting a whole alot from the missions when going into them because it’s release date DLC. I was right to do so because I didn’t get alot from the missions either. The story is very weak at best. Kitty’s stash has been taken and she wants it back. She’s horrible in combat, since she can only get a fraction of upgrades compared to Batman. Although her wall climb and ceiling crawl is very useful for not being seen, and when she walks her hips have an amazing wiggle.
Overall I really enjoyed Arkham City, which should be obvious enough since I did say that it was front runner for Game of the Year. Although I do wish it was bulked out a little more so I could enjoy the show that little longer, then again in the words of that child loving Nazi sympathiser Walt Disney “Always leave them wanting more”. I didn’t read any of the comic books before play Arkham Asylum or afterwards, but Arkham City has actually made me more interested in the mythos of the Batman universe. I find myself looking up less known characters on the internet such as Deadshot and The Mad Hatter, to learn more about them.
So where does the future lead for the franchise? Given the main story and how it ended, it doesn’t leave anything open for a direct sequel or even any sort of sequel at all, but in one of the side mission Batman is warned about “A coming darkness”. So I don’t know. I hear rumours that Rocksteady are interested in making a Superman game. Maybe this way I can learn more about Superman’s enemies, because currently I get to Lex Luthor then I’m stumped.