By Adam M. Cook
Game: Batman: Arkham City
Release Date: Oct. 18, 2011
Developers: Rocksteady Studios
Publishers: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Microsoft Windows, Wii U, Cloud(OnLive), OS X
Game trailer: (**spoiler alert at 2:05**) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V1ZF5cNYCs
Imagine stepping into the boots of the bone-crushing detective who uses sharp intellect, brute force, olympic-like agility and fascinating gadgets to protect the innocent and “educate” others. In “Batman: Arkham City,” this exhibition of brutal justice is set in a dog-eat-dog gangland where some of Batman’s most ruthless villains make the rules. This dark, twisted, and even psychedelic game presents a more gritty, adult version of the Batman we are familiar with from the movies.
In this second installment of the “Batman: Arkham” series, Arkham has expands its boundaries to where psychotics and hardened criminals consume an entire city as a madman’s “vision” comes true. Dr. Hugo Strange is a demented scientist who has tricked the Mayor of Gotham, Quincy Sharp, into letting Strange and his “TYGER” forces take over Arkham City. While promoting his anti-Arkham campaign outside the gates of Arkham, Bruce Wayne (Batman) is arrested by Strange’s men and brought into Arkham as a prisoner. Strange strategically orders his team of his TYGER mercenaries to execute a diabolical plan to destroy Arkham as well as Gotham. Once you have escaped to the roof and obtained the Batsuit you’re ready to become the Batman and take down the plague that has taken over the city. On top of that, the Joker infects Batman with a fatal, poisonous serum that is slowly killing him, so he must find the cure before his health is completely depleted. With Alfred’s help and the assistance of a few other notable characters, Batman must use his wit and strength to bring down this evil empire and bring order to a city of madness and terror before it’s too late.
Every character that appears in the game has a bio, explaining not only basic information, but in-depth descriptions of the characters that involve their physical characteristics and even historical backgrounds. What’s even better about the historical backgrounds is that they are all accurate descriptions that go along with Batman comics. (Fun fact: Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics Volume 1 #27, created in May of 1939.) The gangs are made up of Arkham prisoners and inmates. These cold, hungry, confused, furious thugs are on alert for any sighting of Batman. You can expect many of the classic villains like The Joker, Harley Quinn, Ra’s al Ghul, The Penguin, Two-Face, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze and more. In addition to the more popular Batman villains, some of the lesser-known villains appear in this game like Calendar Man, Clayface, Black Mask and numerous others. (Fun fact: Mark Hamill, AKA Luke Skywalker, is the voice of The Joker).
When playing the campaign story, players are placed in Arkham City where they engage in hand-to-hand combat, glide around, go under and over buildings and save lives as they progress through the main missions. Each mission can require speed, stealth, endurance, strategy, wit, aim or all of the above. Different missions involve working with or against different villains. Each district of Arkham City is a gang territory controlled by a different villain. For example, the Gotham City Police Department has been taken over by Mr. Freeze and The Joker’s crew is controlling the steel mill.
When it comes to combat in this game, it’s all about timing and knowing when to block, strike or leap out of the way. If you can get the rhythmic tapping of the attack button down, you can rack up combos, which can boost your health level. The level of reality in these graphics is astounding, as a player will notice when Batman’s cape flows in the wind or as the snow flakes sway to the ground.
Batman’s inventory consists of gadgets that not only help him swiftly get around the city, but also help him when he’s outnumbered, hacking into a secure building or dealing with armed enemies. Whether you’re using the disruptor to incapacitate a thug’s weapon or using the line launcher to zip over freezing, shark-infested waters, one of the incredibly useful devices will come in handy sooner or later.
Explore the city and you will stumble upon dozens of surprises. In addition to main missions there are side missions that involve stories of other villains. All throughout the city are “Riddler Trophies.” Some trophies are easier to obtain, while some require a more thorough observation of surroundings and use of logical thought with regards to physics. One trophy can require an electric current and the laws of gravity to collect, for example. How long will you try to solve the Riddler’s puzzles before going online to watch the tutorial video? (Don’t be ashamed. All gamers have been guilty of it at one time or another.)
Why I love it:
People always ask, “What’s the big deal about Batman? He doesn’t even have super powers.” My response is always the same, “That’s the point.” The character of Batman is human and yet still placed in the same category as Superman, as he well should be. Any superhero can rely on their powers, but Batman shows us the power of human will. Another significant thing I admire about the Dark Knight is that he’s non-lethal and vows to never kill. Messages can get across and minds can be changed without taking lives. Suit up and witness the creative brilliance in this continuation of Bob Kane and co-creator Bill Finger’s legacy as you prey on those cowardly enough to harm the innocent.