For a different publication I reviewed the well received game that is Arkham Asylum. In fact I reviewed it twice. The game broke the right new ground and put to shame all those games previous to the batman franchise that it earned itself a 3D update for a ”Game of the Year Edition.”
Anticipation has been high for this second game which expands the game arena to a sector of Gotham City now dubbed “Arkham City.” To be honest I wasn’t too worried, thanks mainly to the same creative team being involved including writers and voice actors. But also thanks to the many teaser trailers that have been part of the campaign for this game – and there have be quite a few extended game play trailers too which really let you see how the game looks. To that I’d like to tip my hat to the marketing department for this game for keeping us fans on our toes, but assured in the fact that we were in good hands when it came to providing a decent sequel to one of the best games on PS3.
I think the only worry on anyone’s mind was perhaps that they may be trying to fit in one or two villains too many. The films have sometimes suffered from this – but then Arkham Asylum had its share too – Many of these villains didn’t get lengthy story time. Often they represented a short phase of the game Batman that had to overcome, and to be honest – so long as each villain brings something new to the game play – this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Last time round we had the Joker heading up the games with Poison Ivy making a big distraction as well as the Scarecrow and the Riddler making very different contributions throughout the game – with most other villains coming and going from the plot as you encountered them. It worked very well.
The story finds Quincy Sharp (The former warden of Arkham Asylum) now the mayor of Gotham. He has moved prison inmates and Arkham in mates to a closed area of the city “Arkham City.” It is run by Dr Hugo Strange, which a certain Bruce Wayne takes objection to. But no sooner is he objecting that is he buddle by Strange’s thugs and immediately thrown into the living hell zone. And it seems that Strange seems to know something about Wayne’s alter ego.
And so into the messy dark, neon-lit streets of Arkham City you are thrust – but it isn’t long before the cape and cowl and slipped into position and you are grappling your way through the streets – fully intent on getting to the bottom of what is going on. But you’ll have a few encounters and side-quests to complete first along the way.
The city itself is just beautiful to look at – you think of any cityscape on film that has blown your mind and this equals the best. And you are in control of how you can view and explore it. Truly the first thing that floors you when you get into the game is just how much fun you are going to have navigating this arena.
ou could stop in most rooftop places and just enjoy the view – and that isn’t such a bad idea if you are to take in some of the more familiar standouts – it will help you when you want to manouvere quickly to places you need to get to. There are of course places you are not allowed to go from the beginning (the giant tower for example in the centre is well barricaded off for later in the game!). But there is so much else to see and do. Whether you are following the story or just roaming for a rumble with the street thugs (Always a good way to level up your abilities). You can also spend many an hour looking for the hundreds (yes hundreds!) of Riddler puzzles to solve! More on those later.
The action play is very similar to the first game, but improved. The fighting combo system is still in effect – and there is more than ample opportunities to get to grips with how best to fight and avoid hits early on in the game. Went levelling up those points we always advise putting most of your first upgrades into your armour.
Batman also glides as gracefully as before, but you also have the option to drive and then swoop up in the air again, and fairly early on you also can get the aid of another hook that you can use to propel yourself up into the air again. Your feet need never touch the ground once you are used to using this baby!
Batman has a few extra toys and upgrades for each. You will spend a good deal of the game using the “detective mode” which lets you see the world in a very different way and help identify clues around you, as well as things like active doorways or weak walls. As for your other equipment, you will more than likely be using the Batclaw and Batarangs more than others – but there are some nifty little toys that do help you when in a pickle, stun your enemies and help with getting access to those all important Riddler trophies!
Ok so we are told there are 400 Riddler Trophies to be had! You can look for these just about any time you like – But whilst you are walking past them at any given moment in this game, it is worth noting that many you will have to wait to get as you won’t always have the right gear on you to obtain them. It is also worth noting that in Detective you will find many more – even when flying and swooping around it is perhaps worth putting on your detective mode and you may be surprised by what you can see and investigate. But again – you don’t want to waste too much time looking for trophies only to find you need to come back later – so it’s worth perhaps waiting a while and then going on sporadic hunts. But what you can do is lock target on each in Detective Mode and it will story the location on your map! Very handy for finding them later!
The big mention though is that many of these trophies are not just sitting there waiting to be found or accessed, many actually require you to solve a puzzle. It may mean firing batarangs at neon question marks, or using electricity to magnetically pull them closer to you. The Riddler has been busy making these collectables a little harder to get since last time. Oh and you also have the added bonus of saving lives too!
There are also many side quests and challenges for you to complete beyond the Riddler. Often you may have to answer a phone and get sent on an errand, or help out a former foe to destroy vats of toxin, or even just practice your diving and swooping skills.
Now we can’t go without a mention to Catwoman. You should get a code when you buy the game that allows you to download the Catwoman playable sections of the narrative. You can do this before you start so you get the story in fuller detail – But you can play without it should you wish (I can only see people doing that just to have played the game once in pure Bruce Wayne/Batman mode).
If you download this section after you have started the game already you can still play each of the episodes from the main menu to catch up.
The villain roster includes the likes of The Penguin, Two-Face, Mr Freeze, Poison Ivy and a return for the Joker and other new faces – we don’t want to name check everyone – but you can expect vastly more than this as you progress through the game from one bad guy to the next, almost like completing dungeon sequences, each with their own hidden secrets, allies and puzzles to solve. Oh and many a buffoon to dish out a good belting to.
Once you are done:
Enjoy? Try playing it again in the New Game Plus mode – This saves your data, upgrades and gadgets. Oh and the difficulty is ramped up as well. But by this point you should know what you are doing. You can access the challenge maps which the previous game also had – taking on waves of thugs, or just hiding in the shadows and playing predator.
You can also access your stats and any available downloadable content in the game. And we already know there are plenty on the way.
In short – this is a great looking game with a great story, wonderfully malevolent characters and great longevity. This will take up hours and hours of your time if you are to reach 100%. I on the other hand will be heading for the nearest cheat guide to get me through and to find all the bits I need! And it will be no less fun!