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Batman:  Arkham City – PS3

Batman: Arkham City – PS3

2606170-batmanaccleanboxPlatform: PlayStation 3 (PSN)

Developer: Rocksteady Studios

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Release Date: October 18th, 2011

Genre: Action/Adventure

Nerd Rating: 9.25/10

Reviewed by Ali

Recently released to PlayStation Plus members, Batman:  Arkham City comes to the PlayStation Network as a free downloadable game. The last Batman game I actually played was Batman Returns for the Super Nintendo, a side-scrolling beat ’em up which I absolutely adored as a child. Did Batman: Arkham City live up to my childhood nostalgia?  The answer is yes.  Not only did Arkham City live up to it, it shattered it to tiny little pieces.  All that was left was my Batman underwear and Riddler Pogs.  Suit up, because Batman: Arkham City is free for PS+ members and it’s fantastic.

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This was all that was left of my childhood

Without revealing too much of the story, part of Gotham City has been walled off and turned into a giant prison called Arkham City. This area is filled with thugs and classic Batman villains who occupy different parts of the map.  Your job is to be Batman and do Batman things. Arkham City does a great job allowing you to really feel like you’re the caped crusader.  Not only are you a master of Ninjutsu and kicking ass, but detective mode also makes you feel like you really are the world’s greatest detective.  All these components come together to create a well-rounded playing experience.

Searching for clues at a crime scene really makes you feel like the worlds greatest detective

Searching for clues at crime scenes really demonstrates Batman’s detective skills.

During gameplay you can activate the detective mode simply by pressing L2. Detective mode allows players to gather information on your enemies and the environment. If they appear orange that means enemies are armed, unarmed enemies are blue, and hiding places glow.  All these things help you decipher on how you’ll attack enemies.  Will you sneak in and take them out silently, or will you use your training to take on 8 guys simultaneously in combat?

Detective Mode allows you to detect which should be first priority

Detective Mode allows you to detect which enemies should be first priority

Of course, Batman wouldn’t be complete without all his cool gadgets. Arkham City does a great job of incorporating most of his tools into fights and puzzle solving.  Combat is incredibly simple.  One button attacks and another counters, similar to how Assassins Creed and Sleeping Dogs handle.  That’s not to say the controls for Arkham City are undemanding. As you progress through the game you’ll gain experience points (XP) to purchase special moves to use in combat.  There were moments I was overwhelmed by the amount of options I had in taking out a group of bad guys.  That’s a good feeling.  The moves themselves are animated incredibly well and flow seamlessly when going from one enemy to another.  The counter button, to my surprise was extremely responsive.  With some practice you can take out groups of enemies without ever breaking your combo chain.

so....many......choices

so….many……choices

When I first started playing, getting across the city took some time since there is no fast travel option, but after I had some playing experience under my utility belt, I was gliding through the air with ease, grappling from building to building.  Perched on a gargoyle, looking down on Arkham City you really feel as if you’re Batman. The city is beautifully detailed.  Arkham City really looks and feels like a part of Gotham.  The architecture, the statues, and posters throughout the city add to the ambience.  The character details are well done.  All the characters have that comic book muscled build, and there’s enough differences between bad guys that they don’t ever get repetitive.  The famous Batman villains all look great too such as The Joker, The Riddler, and Two-Face who all look just how you’d image them.  The art style is taken straight from the comic books.

I loved the variety of death screens.  I died on purpose just to watch them all.  Yeah....on purpose.

I loved the variety of death screens. I died on purpose just to watch them all. Yeah….on purpose.

 

Not only do you play as Batman, but in the PlayStation Plus version you also play as Catwoman.  Her story missions are scattered throughout the main game and add a nice change of pace.  She doesn’t have as many gadgets and special moves as Batman does, but holds her own as she uses her whip much like Batman uses his grappling gun.  That’s not to say that the two characters play exactly the same.  The developers did a good job at making Catwoman’s gameplay feel different, but not so different that you have to learn a whole new set of controls.

The Catwoman campaign, which was initially DLC is included in the PlayStation Plus version

The Catwoman campaign, which was initially DLC, is included in the PlayStation Plus version

The sound, music, and voice acting are incredible, especially the latter.  They got veteran voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to voice Batman and Joker, respectively, and it’s beyond great.  Thugs in the streets will give their opinions on the happenings of Arkham City as you advance through the main campaign.  So if I just defeated the Penguin, all the thugs in the city can be overheard talking about how I whooped his butt.  It’s not huge, but small details like those really heighten the atmosphere.

Visit Calender Man on the dates marked on this calender for an added easter egg.

Visit Calender Man on the dates marked on this calender for some hidden easter eggs.

The main mission can be rather short if that’s all you aim for, but there are so many side missions in Batman: Arkham City that it’ll keep you busy for weeks.  Each side mission generally involves other beloved Batman characters.  The most prominent being The Riddler and his endless puzzles scattered throughout the city.  Some are rather easy, but for others you’ll reluctantly be looking online for the solution.  I love how you have case files to close, and you have to find evidence to build a case on select side missions, just like a real detective.  If side missions aren’t enough content for you, there’s ranked challenges, alternate costumes, unlockable concept art, and much more.

“Was he framed? Or does it run in the family?” Some Riddler puzzles are solved by using the L2 button to scan various things in Arkham City.

“Was he framed? Or does it run in the family?” Some Riddler puzzles are solved by using the L2 button to scan various things in Arkham City.

Batman: Arkham City is everything a licensed superhero game should be and more.  There are a few minor glitches, texture pop ups, and hit detection issues, but nothing too glaring.  There are points in the game where the main story goes out of focus with all the side missions, and unfortunately some of those side missions end on big cliffhangers, but I guess that’s just good marketing for future installments. The amazing presentation combined with an easy to learn, yet hard to master, combat system combine for a memorable experience that makes you feel like Batman straight from the comic books.  By the time you finish this game you’ll be saying in your deepest gravelly voice, “I’m AM Batman.”

Written by Nerd Bacon

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4 Comments

  1. Shadow Links says:

    Pretty similar to my reaction when i played Asylum for the first time. Then got even more blown away with City. Can’t wait for Rocksteady to do Arkham Knight and tie things up.

     
    • Shadow Links says:

      Unfortunately i remembered i don’t have a next gen console and unlikely to get one by release date.

       
  2. Actually no, as I mentioned in the article the last Batman game I played was Batman Returns for the SNES as a child. I as well loved this game and am looking forward to any future installments.

     
  3. Lady Russell says:

    I absolutely loved this game. Have you played the others in the Arkham series? Looking forward to Akrham Knight?

     

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