PSBeyond reviews Batman: Arkham City on the PS3
Despite gems like Spider-Man 2 back in the day, licensed games never had a very good track record until Rocksteady and Warner Brothers changed that perception wit the award-winning Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009. This year’s sequel, Batman: Arkham City not only lives up to its predecessor but also brings several new things to the table.
After Arkham Asylum’s prison setting, Batman: Arkham City takes place in North Gotham, which has been sealed off from the rest of Gotham and turned into a superprison where criminals are just dropped in and left to fend for themselves. As the Dark Knight, it’s up to you to bring order to the streets and help out the victims of this hellhole. The Caped Crusader also gets drawn into a scheme by the dying Joker that forces him to help his arch-nemesis find a cure. Batman also encounters Mr Freeze, the Penguin and other characters from the Batman universe.
Even though the urban setting makes this game look a lot more open world than its predecessor, the environment isn’t as vast as one could hope. There is an old courthouse, a building that used to be the police headquarters, a museum, an abandoned subway station and some other places. What the game world lacks in size, it makes up for in level design and attention to detail. All of these buildings have a certain sense of history to them, with a lot of 1930s deco inspired art, so the environment becomes more and more believable as you explore it. Exploring it is something you are sure to enjoy because moving around the city is great fun. Batman’s grappling hook has a lot more applications in the urban environment of North Gotham and you’ll be using the glider cape much more often.
The fluid combat system that made Batman: Arkham Asylum so great makes a comeback and it’s just as intuitive as it has ever been. One button attacks the enemy, while the other counters their attacks. The move animations in a long combo come together seamlessly. This system really rewards timing and you quickly find yourself absorbed once you’re chaining massive combos and reflecting enemy attacks left and right. The enemies become more varied and more tough later on, with stun-gun equipped baddies that require you to flank them, shielded enemies that can only be taken down with an aerial attack, as well as armored opponents that can only be defeated through a rapid-fire punch technique called Beatdown.
Of course, when Bruce Wayne encounters opponents with firearms, it’s time to be a ninja and use stealth. This is where the increased selection of gadgets makes itself known. There is a device with limited use that lets you remotely disable a thug’s gun and beat him down as he tries to shoot you. The Batclaw can also be upgraded to disarm your adversaries. There are also smoke bombs that Batman can use to get away if spotted, as well as a multitude of other gadgets not seen in Arkham Asylum. With all the upgrades you attain as you gain experience and level up, it creates a nice sense of progression and growth.
Rocksteady has made an awesome adventure game that any fan of the Batman universe should pick up. Even if you’re not a fan, check it out anyway and you may just become one.