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4.5 out of 5

by Tim

Batman: Arkham Asylum was a leap forward in the Batman world – there has never been a Batman game with such a powerful presence before its release.  Will Batman: Arkham City live up to its predecessor?        

Without giving any spoilers away – Batman finds himself behind the walls of Arkham City.  The story picks up almost immediately – the writers wasted no time getting the player into the driver seat and into the game.  And the story is quite good too, this is a story that you would see in the comic book series or even as a multiple episode of Batman: The Animated Series from the 90’s.  Of course it also helps that Kevin Conroy is still voicing Batman and Mark Hamill is still Joker.  Which brings me to my next point, the acting is beyond anything you would expect from a comic book game.  Even cast members who weren’t featured on the Batman animated series were incredible and a joy to hear on the screen.       

I only had a few complaints about the original game (Arkham Asylum), and after playing Arkham City – I see they only improved the game-play.  First off, you start with more gadgets than just the batarang (like in Arkham Asylum) – this is a huge plus.  This makes it so you don’t feel like an inadequate hero when it comes to the early stages in the game.   The “Detective Mode” is vastly improved – it is now easier for you to spot an exit from across the room.  And the villains are slightly harder to defeat.       

The world that the developers made the player delve into is incredible.  And the playable map is five times larger than the original game – which also creates more side-quests and adds replayability to the game after completing it.   But even though the world is so brilliant and beautiful, you won’t see it as the developers intended – and that’s one drawback to this game.  Because “Detective Mode” is so amazing and necessary during most of the game, you find yourself viewing the world through the detective’s eyes for ninety-nine percent of the time.  This causes the colors to mute and the atmosphere to dissolve right in front of you.  So if you want to soak in the atmosphere of the game, I recommend you just sit on a top of one of the buildings and turn off detective mode for a few minutes.  Then go back to kicking some ass.      

One thing I wish the developers would have done with this game was to add cel-shading.  Cel-shaded animation is a type of non-photorealistic rendering designed to make computer graphics appear to be hand-drawn.  So because some of the original cast members of Batman: The Animated Series are involved in this game – I would love to see it as a cartoon itself.  I know this game is not incorporated with the series, but it would still give it a very cool and creative look that no other comic book game has ever done.       

The controls took a little getting used to while walking on top of Arkham’s skyline.  At first they seemed a lot like the first Assassin’s Creed – and I fell multiple times when I meant to walk around the top of a building.  But after getting used to the game mechanics, they seemed flawless.      

Earlier I mentioned how you start the game with more gadgets.  This is an improvement, but it is also a burden.  Throughout the game you were given so many different weapons – it became such a burden to have to maneuver to each one of them with the D-Pad.  In order for Batman to bring up a certain gadget – you have to press a certain direction on the D-pad.  For instance, pressing right would bring out the freeze gun – pressing left would bring up the exploding gel.  But you also had to press the D-Pad at an angled direction to bring up other items.  This is an almost impossible feat with the Xbox 360 D-Pad, especially while in combat.      

The Bottom Line: The story is slightly longer than the original, and there’s so much more to do in this amazing world.  It’s the best Batman game I’ve played in a very long time – in fact it probably is the best.  The story is fun, addictive, and entertaining – and it concludes with an amazing scene.  If you really want to know what it’s like wearing black spandex and kicking ass – you need to pick this game up.