Story: Hugo Strange has taken control of Gotham, transporting all villains from the destroyed Arkham Asylum over to a quarantined facility named Arkham City. Meanwhile, Joker is recovering from a titan-syrum accident (from the last game) but also has plans for this newly founded criminal metropolis. Batman is aware of this and takes action, only to be captured and locked in himself. He must put a stop to Strange and Joker’s plans before all is lost!
Sound: This game’s soundtrack takes a far turn from the classic “Nananananananana Batman!” that we all remember so fondly. Instead, it provides a dark, disturbing and atmospherically fitting soundtrack that makes you feel like you really are in a city run by murderers, psychopaths and freaks. The gloomy, unsettling music is perfect. Voice-acting is also high quality, with Joker’s voice actor (Mark Hamill) delivering a perfectly mad performance, so mad in fact that I consider it to be the best voice acting I’ve heard in a game yet. Sound: 10/10
Presentation: This game looks pretty freakin’ bad-ass, running on multiple critically-acclaimed graphical engines which create a beautiful city. Every building houses unique details such as posters, signs and special decour to fit the villain ruling that particular turf. Traversing Two-face’s territory? Expect a lot of Oreo-colored surroundings. Waltzing through Joker’s facilities? Creepy carnival structures will be everywhere. On top of that, characters themselves are extremely detailed, with Batman’s costume slowly wearing and tearing as the game progresses and Mr. Freeze’s suit radiating cold mists. It’s little things like these that make this game a work of art to look at. Presentation: 10/10
Gameplay: Batman might not have superpowers, but he’s got one hell of a utility belt and some wicked fighting skills to make up for it. Arkham Asylum’s award-winning combat is back and better than ever, with the basic X=attack and Y=counter still being the bread and butter of the experience, but now there’s grapples, grabs and a lot more available to you. On the front of his gadgets, he’s got his original roster of tools, but like a gazillion more have been added into the frey. Some favorites amongst these new additions are the zipline and this handy little taser gun that can be used for almost any situation. Platforming is more fun than ever, with miles and miles of digital space to glide around in, diving through buildings and running on rooftops. Controls are extremely tight, but they are responsive ninety-nine percent of the time so it’s all good. This game is extremely difficult though, so all of the things listed above need to be completely honed and mastered within the first quarter of the game for you to be successful in playing. This sharp learning curve is quite a problem if you haven’t played of much of (if any) Arkham Asylum. Specific reasons for this game’s difficulty are that AI are horrifyingly smart (which is especially bad when they are equipped with firearms) and stealthy gameplay requires exact calculations and movement, with the consequences being instant death. I do like a good challenge, but this just blew me away. One major gripe I personally have with the game is the fact that it’s just so damn big. Really, most modern games have you following a linear path, but here they expect you to backtrack and traverse this criminal-infested world like it’s your job or something. Eventually your inner-Bat senses start to kick in and you start automatically getting in to the flow of the game, but it takes a while and a lot of roaming around like an idiot for that to happen. Overall, Arkham City’s gameplay is loads of fun, but is an acquired taste that requires you to think like a skilled detective and requires a lot of patience and diligence to get good at.
If you get a brand-new copy of the game, you’ll also get the DLC code for Catwoman’s missions. These missions are extremely short and relatively simple, but do alter the story a little and have unique gameplay methods that veer away from the typical Batman adventure. Catwoman is equipped with lighting-fast speed, Bolas (rope-ball things), cattrap spikes and all sorts of other goodies that are a fun change of pace to the action, and I really enjoyed them.
Length: A lot is to be said for the amount of effort Rocksteady put in to replayability in a singleplayer, campaign-based game. The first time through the campaign is long, lasting a good ten hours or so. But then there’s new game plus, which has you replay the story, but with all of your upgrades available right from the start and increased enemy difficulty (as if it wasn’t hard enough). On top of that, there’s hundreds of Riddler trophies scattered throughout the city, encouraging you to find them all if you ever want to actually confront the Riddler. Besides that, there are loads of side missions to do. But no, there’s even more! Challenge maps are unlocked as you play through the storymode, enabling you to fight hordes of enemies or play stealth-based assassination missions and compete for the highest score/best time on online leaderboards. Length: 10/10
Overall: Arkham City gets a 9.8/10! Not quite the perfect game, but pretty frickin’ close to it. If you have a craving for a fun, challenging singleplayer action-based game that goes above and beyond most video game standards, then I highly recommend you go out and buy this epic title.