Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum and its awesome. The story takes place a couple of months after the events of Arkham Asylum. The former warden-turned-mayor Quincy Sharp has sectioned off one area of Gotham City and placed all criminal and super criminals there. For reasons to be explained in game, Batman finds himself inside Arkham City caught between a super criminal turf war and Dr. Hugo Strange, the proprietor of Arkham City and a man who knows Batman’s true identity. It’s a very interesting story that will keep you hooked throughout the 10-20 hour experience.
Game play wise, Arkham City will be instantly familiar to those who have played Arkham Asylum. Combat wise Arkham City uses a simple to learn and fun to master. The face buttons are used to strike, counter, dodge, and stun while the shoulder buttons act as modifiers for Batman’s gadgets. Shooting your Bat claw at thugs and delivering a two-hit close line is something that should be in every game. Once you master the combat you’ll be pulling off 50-hit combos with ease. You’ll enter a room with 20 or so enemies and all you’ll wonder how many of those wonderful toys you can incorporate into a single combo. In addition to straight combat, Batman can also stalk his enemies and take them down silently. In some ways, this is a preferred option as enemies with guns are quickly introduced and as awesome as Batman is, he’s no match for a hail of bullets.
Riddler challenges have returned and holy-brain-teaser Batman there are a lot of them. Over 400, nearly twice the amount in Arkham Asylum. They are in every nook and cranny of this game so if you have a compulsive need to collect things, this game will keep you busy for a while. In addition to the Riddler challenges there are a number of side quests which feature many more of Batman’s villains. Most of these side quests require you to scour the city looking for clues in order to continue the investigation.
Once you complete the game, a new game plus option unlocks, allowing you to play the game again with all of your gadgets and solved riddles. This mode also takes the training wheels off as there are more difficult enemies from the start and there are no indicators as to when enemies will attack making countering a bit tougher.
In addition to the main campaign, the challenge rooms return for those that want to get straight to some action. There are combat challenges (where you fight four waves of enemies), predator challenges (involving you sneaking around and disposing of enemies silently), and Riddler Campaigns. The last option is a bit of a hybrid of the previous two modes with the addition of applying modifiers that can aid or challenge you further.
And then there’s Catwoman. I like the addition of Catwoman. She feels faster than Batman and her story missions are nicely interwoven in the main story if you installed the content before you started a new game. This brings me to an issue. In the box there is a download code for the Catwoman content. I understand that companies are doing things like this for games with online multi-player as a way to discourage used game sales, but this is a single player game. If you are unfortunate enough to not have an Internet connection you are missing out on some content of the game. The Catwoman missions aren’t an integral part of the story but everyone should have the option of playing them.
Bottom line: If you love Batman, get this game. If you love games, get this game. If you love both, you’ve probably already bought it. So tell your friends to get this game.