Batman: Arkham City Review
DisneyOtoko: At the Spike Video Game Awards in early 2010 Rocksteady unexpectedly released a teaser trailer for the sequel to Asylum. The trailer got everyone hyped. It was only a teaser, but that stirred anticipation immensely. Rocksteady introduced many concepts that shockingly made it into the final product such as the district sized prison, Iceberg Lounge, Catwoman (her shadow appears), the “I Want You” Two Face poster, The Sionis Steel Mill, and the dying Joker. Rocksteady didn’t reveal any more info for the longest time leaving fans to die of anticipation. When the issue of Gameinformer came out and the Hugo Strange Trailer was revealed at E3 2011 anticipation was insane, and we got a title Batman: Arkham City. As the months wore on fans were waiting, speculating and preordering for one of the most anticipated games of the year. Once it was released the praise was on the same level of the Dark Knight. I have yet to see a review of this game that ranks it lower than a 9 out of 10. Some are calling it the best superhero game ever made. Others are calling it the best sequel ever made. Those words can not even express how awesome this game is. Welcom fellow inmates, to ARKHAM CITY!!
Fusionater: Hold it DisneyOtoko! I’m the resident Batfan around here (well me and Cferra, but he doesn’t seem to be here right now). I was too late for your Asylum review, but now I will have my revenge! You and I will review this game in its glory. Just let me suit up.
DisneyOtoko: Ha Ha!! I switched the pictures on you! Your place in this review is minimal. Yes, you are the Burt Ward Robin to my Rocksteady Batman! Know your place “Bird Boy” (said in Austrian accent).
Fusionater: “Bird Boy?!!!” You calling me a sidekick? You sniveling waste!!
DisneyOtoko: It’s my show if I want you to be a sidekick you’re a sidekick! Or would you prefer you become a superhero named after a food chain “REEEEEEEEDDDDDDDD ROOOOOOBBBBBIIIINNN YUUUUMMMM!”
Fusionater: Oh God, I hate Red Robins! Brrr. Very well you win this round.
Arkham City’s story takes place about a year after Asylum. With the events of Asylum the people of Gotham are fed up with the super criminals. Quincy Sharp (the warden of Arkham Asylum in the first game) took advantage of the fear and concerns and promised to build an even bigger, and more cruel super prison if he was elected mayor. The prison would basically take the tip of North Gotham and wall off the districts in that peninsula and dump all the criminals inside. This includes super criminals, normal criminals, and first time offenders. With dubious parties providing funding and the support of the people Sharp was elected Mayor of Gotham. Sharp appointed psychologist Hugo Strange control of everything associated with the construction and operation of the new prison called Arkham City. Strange had a key role in Sharp’s campaign and mental treatment of Sharp’s psychological disorders. Strange had Sharp wrapped around his thumb and was given permission to have his own private army called Tyger. Bruce Wayne’sÂ worst fears had been realized, Gotham is now a totalitarian police state. For more details on the preliminary events DC released a prequel comic book that details these events.
Due to events that fusionater and I don’t want to spoil Batman finds himself inside the walls of Arkham City and must think and fight his way against multiple super villains and Tyger to take out super villains, restore order and shut down the facility all while trying to stay alive ( I say that for story reasons I don’t want to spoil). The story is much bigger than Asylum, but the reason for this is the fact that there are multiple stories and characters with their own goals and motivations. The different stories do connect and flow into each other excellently and lead up to a finale that will make any Batman fan’s jaw drop! If you buy the game new you get a code to play as Catwoman in her own story. These episodes take place before, during, and after Batman’s story. It’s recommended that you download and install it before you start your game because all the episodes will appear as you play. The game opens with Catwoman for an interesting prologue and the last episode takes place after the credits so the game has an epilogue. But we’re still not done!Why? Because there are sidequests! there are multiple optional cases and events that feature even more villains and they’re just as interesting as the main story. After completing the last Catwoman episode you can freely explore the city as Catwoman or Batman with certain switching stations positioned throughout the city. this presents the opportunity to complete sidequests, but the majority can be completed in the main story as well. Now here’s fusionater to talk about the fantastic characters that appear.
Fusionater: Ah yes! The story, that story! But that’s your field Mr. Otoko, as you said it’s character time! I will only talk about characters who will not provide spoilers, but be WARNED I will spoil Arkham Asylum here so I’m not resorting to things like “a certain even” or “something that happened”. I will be talking about characters who provide no spoiler to the overall story, but everyone else is in. Without further ado, ah… let’s ado this… I guess.
BATMAN: Voiced by Kevin Conroy!!!
Oh surely no introduction is necessary! It’s the Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader, it’s the GODDAMN BATMAN!!! As DisneyOtoko stated due to events that transpired, Batman has found himself in Arkham City, a gaggle of bloodthirsty criminals awaits. But who cares, it’s Batman right? Well the worst part is the hyped as hell Doctor Hugo Strange happens to know the identity of said crusader! Scary! It adds certain urgency to the story that I feel is most welcome. As you go through the game you will see part of Bruce Wayne’s psyche unfold. And I love it!
THE JOKER:Â voiced by Luke Skywalker. Ugh I mean mark Hamill
It’s the clown Prince of Crime, Chaos, and Confusion! You’ll know what I mean when you finish the game, Ha! After failing to send an army of giant monsters through Gotham, Joker injected himself with his own TITAN formula (Think Super super soldier serum) causing him to be ripped!!! And after defeat, it turns out that he overdosed on the stuff and is dying! SHOCK!!! Joker is now forced to find himself some of that “crazy cure” before it’s too late. Call me a terrible person, but I hope he does.
MR. FREEZE:Â Voiced by Maurice LaMarche
No! Get him out of here!!!!
Ah! Much better! In a desperate attempt to cure himself Joker hired one of the smartest guys in town, “Mr. icebox himself!” But wait! Surely Joker can’t get his cure without SOME kind of plot twist! Yes, shortly after hiring him Mr. Freeze has “gone cold” on Joker and now we have to find him.
CATWOMAN:Â voiced by Grey DeLisle
Now I get to be mildly pissed. Catwoman was hyped to be as a main part of this game, no, an important part, and what did we get? DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT!!!:(It didn’t effect me too bad as I had preordered the game, but just imagine people walking out of the store wanting to play her…, anyway as a character, she bored me, but her story was interesting enough, with most of it involving her stealing from Strange. As I said she bored me.
PENGUIN:Â voiced by Nolan North… Desmond?
Wait, Penguin? The joke of Batman villains? Oh wait… (remembers game). PENGUIN IS AWESOME!! I mean Wow! They took one of my least favorite characters in Batman and made him one of my favorite! He spends his time insulting and threatening his men, killing cops, plenty of other shit, and I love it!
TWO FACE:Â voiced by Troy Baker
Again, I’m angry! Hyped as a major villain, it only turns out he’ a major villain in the Catwoman plot. WHY ROCKSTEADY? WHY? In any case I think he was handled really well, showcasing his disorder well also giving off a hint of fear.
HUGO STRANGE:Â voiced by Corey Burton
The main antagonist of the game. Honestly, I’m disappointed. I was expecting far more dialogue from him, but apart from a few key scenes, and a few radio dispatches, he barely appears. I will say he went out on a high note and is enjoyable.
ALFRED PENNYWORTH:Â voiced by Martin Jarvis
Serving as Batman’s intelligence for a portion of the time, Alfred manages equipment deployment for “Master Bruce”. He is extremely enjoyable in his lines and is important because I say so!! LOL!
HARLEY QUINN:Â voiced unfortunately by Tara Strong
Look Tara… You can voice Ben Tennyson, Timmy Turner, and even Batgirl all you want, but stay away from Harley Quinn. It’s just bad. Worse actually. Saying perhaps the stupidest lines in the Batmanverse. “Your supposed to be dead!” With a stupid over the top voice. Although there are some interesting things about Quinn I won’t talk about them here.
BARBARA GORDON/ORACLE:Â voiced by Kimberly Brooks
After about half way through the game Oracle takes over as Batman’s intelligence with genuinely useful advice in the game. Hell, Mr. Freeze probably would’ve taken longer to beat without her.
THE RIDDLER:Â voiced by Wally Wingert
Returning to this universe is everyone’s 3rd or 4th favorite Batman villain. THE RIDDLER!!! Riddle me this DisneyOtoko when is an internet reviewer out of their depth?
Riddler is ready to go all out with this time around. Bringing Jigsaw style death traps into the equation as well as 1 or 2 confusing challenges. All in all I liked him.
BLACK MASK:Â voiced by Nolan North
While only making a cameo in main story and having no side missions, I have learned that Black Mask is in the Robin challenge maps ready for the take down. What else can I say?
QUINCY SHARP:Â voiced by Tom Kane
I am severely disappointed in Sharp in this game. I was expecting a bit more antagonism from him, but he is a weak character which offsets his appearance as a psychotic in the first game where he believed himself to be the spirit of Amadeus Arkham.
POISON IVY:Â voiced by Tasia Valenza
Appearing briefly in conflict with Catwoman, she helps the cat break into the vault where the money is held.
VICKI VALE:Â voiced by Kari Wahlgren
Appearing at the start and a point in the middle. She is a humorously annoying character, traveling into Arkham City (stupidly) to get her story.
VICTOR ZSASZ:Â voiced by Danny Jacobs
Playing a more interesting role after his defeat in Asylum, Zsasz is calling payphones, and if you answer he will threaten to kill hostages unless you find another phone in time. If you find the phone you will be treated to a portion of Zsasz’s story while attempting to trace his calls.
Fusionater: And now with the characters out of the way, I can talk about GAMEPLAY!!!!! To be honest if you’ve played Arkham Asylum, getting into Arkham City’s should be fairly easy to understand.
COMBAT (FREEFLOW):Â With the Bat surrounded by hundreds (more likely thousands) of thugs in this not- so mega(seriously, most of these thugs have guns, come on!) superprison, Batman needs a little bit more peower than he did in the first game, starting out with all the gadgets from the first game (minus upgrades), Batman can incorporate a nifty quickfire feature which is easy to remember and useful in large rooms of thugs. Batman now has greater counter abilities, able to counter at least three thugs at a time (in normal situations). He also has a variety of special moves such as the bat-swarm, which can be used to disorient nearby enemies with a circle of swarming bats. These new features greatly improved upon the feel of combat in Asylum, and I loved it!
COMBAT (PREDATOR):Â OK, this is where the game shined in my opinion, no longer could you simply pull hit and run tactics, you HAD to be smart about it. In Asylum, I always found one place in the room where no thug could see, and waited till they “lost me”. Not this time, if you jump into obvious hiding places, and stick around you’ll be treated to a nice present I like to call a grenade. That’s right, henchmen can now throw grenades at you in places they think you are. If you are caught and you jump up to a gargoyle and manage to get away, you can bet you won’t be using that gargoyle again, it’s more likely to be shot down. All of this provided a welcome challenge on the predator side of things.
EXPLORATION:Â Okay people!!!! This is how you make a videogame!!! You give people stuff to do!!! And this game does just that, with it’s map filled to the brim with all sorts of extras that it would take hours to tell you about all of them. You have a TON of little extras to find. Never will you be bored with this game’s map.
RIDDLER CHALLENGES (or as DisneyOtoko wanted to name the category “riddler crap”)
Now unlike our prestigious Mr. Otoko over there, I beyond enjoyed the riddler challenges. Perhaps it’s because i love running around worlds, doing every little thing. My one gripe about this is that after you have collected all the gadgets, the challenges, with the exception of a choice few become too easy However I will say that after a long time spent completing 400 riddler challenges, the ending given is just priceless, especially if you stick around afterwords…
DisneyOtoko: I enjoyed the riddler challenges. Some of them were a pain in the rear, but they were so well presented that it actually made me care about useless green question mark trophies. It was a great way to get experience. I also love how solving actual riddles it gives you exposition on the location or object that was scanned to solve the riddle. The challenging nature of the challenges just makes you want to find the Riddler and beat the crap out of him even more. The riddles offer a great sense of identity to the environment. So I do like them.
DisneyOtoko: The music is absolutely excellent. It sets the perfect dark and gritty mood that Batman is all about. The Main Theme is even bigger and is excellent and I personally think it’s better than Hanz Zimmer’s theme just because it captures both movie themes perfectly and all the other music is excellent!
The graphics in this game are absolutely phenomenal!!!!!!! Rocksteady’s attention to detail is excellent. There are multiple layers to the environment. There are rooftops, alleyways, underground ruins and subway systems, and other classic Gotham landmarks such as the old police building and Crime Alley. Rocksteady brings these locations to life and just like Arkham Island gives the locations a history and the player can visualize what the environment was like before Arkahm City was built! The best part is that the game gives amazing levels of freedom. You can explore this game pretty much from the beginning and if you turn on detective mode you will see plenty of objects of interest and you will be drawn off the critical path and be sucked into the optional content.
DisneyOtoko: Batman: Arkham City was released under extremely high expectations and in my opinion surpassed all of them( with the exception of minor fanboy complaints that are 110% NEGLIGIBLE). With it’s huge, varied, and excellently paced story, it’s insanely detailed world, excellent ensemble of characters, satisfying combat and optional content Rocksteady, Warner Bros., and DC have out done themselves and have created the definitive Batman experience. The BEST BATMAN PRODUCT EVER RELEASED!!!!!!!!!!
Fusionater: My final thoughts, with about 3 years wait for the game, I was starting to get worried that my high expectations would be pissed on. Boy was I wrong!!!! With brilliant voice actors(save for Tara Strong), engaging gameplay, and all around goodness Batman: Arkham City is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the greatest videogames of all time. And hell, Rocksteady already has a sequel planned. I just have to review it after this. Thank you for your time DisneyOtoko.
Alright now that my review of the Arkham series is over I return to Disney with my review of one of the greatest Disney movies of all time Pinocchio!!!!!