Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
Plot: Bruce Wayne is kidnapped and thrown into a city turned into Gotham’s prison for its most dangerous criminals, led by the enigmatic Dr. Strange.
At first glance, Arkham City looks like it has totally missed the mark, destroying everything that made Arkham Asylum such a great game. In simple terms, it is just too busy. There is so much going on from the second you turn the game on. You are trying to wrap your head around the conspiracy surrounding Hugo Strange, while avoiding the Joker’s assassination attempts at the same time the Penguin launches a war on Mr. Freeze. You will struggle to keep up with everything and you might end up criticising this game for being far too complicated.
But then you realise that the writers know exactly what they are doing. By the time the game is over, there is so much still to do. Arkham Asylum suffers from the fact that there is very little to do when you actually put the game down. The only subplot here is collecting the Riddler’s hidden trophies, which only really attracts the achievement hunters. Arkham City keeps you entertained for weeks, even if you are playing the game straight. When you defeat Strange and Joker, Arkham City turns into an open world game in the strictest sense with you throwing yourself at the remains of the City and tying up every loose end the game has thrown at you (Azrael, Zsasz, more Riddler). There are so many Easter Eggs nestled into the game that there is always another secret just around the corner. Also, with all these many villains attacking you at the same time, you actually feel like Batman. He faces overwhelming odds, yet always takes them in his stride, with an undeniable cool demeanour. This is the perfect Batman simulator.
The story was incredible. Arkham City could have very easily suffered sequel syndrome. Asylum offered up a logical reason for all of these villains to be thrown together; how could City do the same without seemed silly? However, Arkham City is a much stronger game. It is able to tackle far more villains, namely the Penguin and Two-Face, who were sorely missed in the last game.The sequence in Penguin’s lair was one of the most exciting in the game, as the character was able to throw everything he had at you from as stolen Freeze gun to a giant killer shark and then… well, no spoilers here, but it is a lesser known figure from the Dark Knight rogue gallery, who you would be overjoyed to see in action. However, one of the greatest things about City is that it changes up the game significantly. Asylum works as just another Batman adventure, but City could be changing the very face of the Batman franchise itself. Characters die, wiped from the narrative for the foreseeable future. While some fans might rage that the developers have been so bold to make these decisive choices with the canon, most of you will feel excited to be witnessing major changes in the world of Batman. For want of a better metaphor, comic book history happens before your very eyes.
And finally, there is the open world element of the game, which really makes it all the more different. While the game still follows a very concrete story, the addition of even more side plots and a bigger map to travel across makes it feel like a totally different experience. Now we have experienced City, the fact that Asylum rarely offers up a proper reason to use your cape to glide across a large surface area makes it seem lacklustre in hindsight. There is something so satisfying about taking this large map and then getting from Point A to B in a seconds, because you can just glide over all of those pesky buildings. There is also the addition of the new Grappel accelerator, which makes you zoom even faster across a massive distance. Everything about this game is just slightly improved. Asylum was good, but City just puts those finishing touches on the franchise, taking a good game and making it… well, perfect.
Final Verdict: Arkham does the impossible and improves one of my most loved games. Endless fun, great action and one of the biggest shock endings in gaming history.