"Dark Knight Done Right"
As my Dark Knight perched on a stone gargoyle adjacent to a rooftop with a small squad of Penguin's thugs, I had an instinct. I flipped on the cowl's x-ray mode and counted four enemies. Four guns. Zero chance. I glided from the rooftop and silently got the drop on one of them. 3 to go. I zipped back to the gargoyle via the grapnel, threw a smoke pellet and leapt from my roost again to dive bomb one of the stooges. 2. The smoke clearing, I grabbed a second of the punks in the haze and dropped him with an elbow. 1 left, but the goon had gotten wise. Running from a burst of bullets, I somersaulted over a railing and plunged down to a lower building. As the final inmate crept to the edge of the rail to see if I had expired, I grapneled up to the railing, scooped him up as I launched into the air, and reintroduced him to the bricks. This is how legends are born.
I imagine the theory behind the development of Batman: Arkham City must've been straightforward: let the player feel what it's like to be Batman. How simple and complex at once. This seemingly plain goal informs every choice Rocksteady made in bringing the Dark Knight's latest adventure to consoles. It seems every moment, every enemy, every side-quest, every new bone-snapping move has been specifically engineered or re-imagined for this hero in this situation. There's never been a truer Batman experience.
The amazing graphics in Batman: Arkham City, with nice particle and texture work, truly take advantage of the HD format, and the combat is fluid and beautiful. Other than a little camera confusion during some silent takedowns, a couple of glitches, and some texture pop-in, there isn't much to complain about. The strong voice talents and sound effects help to complete the experience.
The story in Batman: Arkham City, borrowing heavily from several prominent storylines, particularly the No Man's Land books, concerns Batman's investigation into Gotham's newest freakshow. Arkham City is the brainchild of Warden Quincy sharp and Dr Hugo Strange rules it with an iron fist. Strange knows who Batman is. Batman needs to find out what is going on inside Gotham's prison colony, and dozens of Batman's rogues gallery is staking out territory as the urban experiment plunges into violence and chaos.
Beginning with an opening too cool to spoil, Batman is unleashed into a world where enemies are like cockroaches and there's always a new victim around the corner. Improbably finding a way to improve tremendously over Batman: Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady managed to jam-pack enough sub-plots, fan favorite storylines, new moves and weapons to give any fanboy a nerd-gasm. From the time you throw your first smoke pellet or pickup your first chilling phone call from Mr. Zsaz, you will not want to put the controller down. Favoring smaller cinematic moments rather than large set pieces like Arkham Asylum (Hugo Strange knows your secret and will stop at nothing to destroy your mind), Arkham City unleashes so many unfriendly faces that you will have more than your hands full. There are political prisoners in distress, murders to solve, hostages to save, and super-criminals to thrash. There are some names on the roster that are likely to enlist some earnest "Oohs" and "Aahs" from even the most skeptical of Bat-fans.
In Batman: Arkham City Batman is more agile, more intimidating, and more dangerous than ever before, and rightfully so. This time, his enemies aren't playing by the rules. Players may be shocked to find villains using thermal goggles to spot Batman in the rafters, throwing grenades, and taking hostages as shields when you take down their teams. Enemies are more adaptive and much more vicious than in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Still, with all new double reversals, weapon destroying moves, and the ability to deploy almost ever gadget via hotkeys during combat, you never feel less than heroic. I found myself quickly taking out teams of armed hooligans and dismantling inmates armed with bats, bottles, crates, and knives by the dozens. The sophomore Bat-developer has managed to create a hero who feels complete from the onset, and a world in which he is still mortal.
With new costumes, Catwoman’s DLC questing, the “adventure plus” playthrough option, and literally hundreds of Riddler trophies, side-quests, and collectables, Batman: Arkham City may be one of a handful of true action games that just never gets old.
After I spent some time practicing diving and gliding, I happened upon a familiar alley. A chalk outline of a familiar tragic couple lying vibrant on the ground. I approached the scene and heard Strange's voice ringing in my head. Taunting me. Challenging me. I made a choice in that alley. I pitched high into the snowy night air above. I had one abiding thought as I dived and swooped through the grimy and grim corridors of Arkham City. I was distracted, but my mission had been renewed. Criminals, psychos, killers, sadists, and monsters would come to know me as a symbol. They would come to see me as the harbinger of justice. I heard the words of probably the most epic superhero cartoon opening ever: I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman.
GameDynamo's Score for Batman: Arkham City (PS3)
|Leon Hendrix III
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