Bat in an even better form - Batman: Arkham City game review

Author: Stranger
Date: 2011-10-14 09:59:00
The review was based on the X360 version. Also applies to the PS3 version

Creating a successful continuation is never an easy matter, especially when the basis for further work is a product as complete, thought-out and playable as Batman: Arkham Asylum . This game is not without reason today to this day on various occasions is eagerly referred to as a role model. I waited for Batman's further adventures without much pressure, hoping for a typical continuation offering more of the same. How great was my surprise when it turned out that the second part is not just cutting off the coupons from the success of "one", but a completely separate work that will easily find its own place in the pantheon of the best video games.

Arkham Asylum has been well remembered, among others, due to the solid and addictive plot, so it should not be surprising that in Arkham City it is equally important, and in some aspects it performs even better than in the previous part of the series. The action of the new game focuses on two main threads. First of all - we have the title Arkham City, i.e. slums bought from the city of Gotham. Hugo Strange takes control of this area, allowing all prisoners who have lived in the Arkham Asylum center until now, and giving them a free hand, unless they decide to escape from this heavily guarded district. Of course, Hugo has his own interest in all of this, which he initially does not intend to initiate. The second important thread concerns Joker, who according to recent rumors is struggling with a serious illness and there is a risk that he will leave the earthly pit soon. Players who remember the end of the previous installment of the cycle probably know the reason for the disease that affected the eternal enemy of Batman. He, in turn, as befits a Joker, always seems to be one step ahead of Batman, cleverly manipulating the title character in order to implement his earlier plans.

Of course, the above two issues are only a tiny slice of what awaits players in the final product. We are effectively encouraged to explore the next nuances of the story in many other ways. I really liked the idea of raising Batman's "dark side" and wondering if he would be able to voluntarily kill someone if this were to contribute to the good of all. The presence of a whole bunch of well-known characters from the DC universe also contributes to following events. In addition to Joker, who inevitably scrolls through the entire game, our paths intersect, among others, with the Penguin, Mr. Freeze or Catwoman, with the first place in my personal ranking due to representatives of the League of Assassins. This thread seems to be the most interesting, but for obvious reasons I will keep the details to myself. A small flaw in the very positive image of the whole is the trace participation in the main events of Batman's allies, especially Robin, who only counts as a guest performance. However, you cannot fail to mention the great ending of Arkham City , which is now quite rare in games. Let's hope it won't be spoiled by some feature DLC.

The fight was probably the most important element of the first installment of the series and it is no different in the sequel. If anyone thought that the authors would go the easy way, you will be disappointed. What's more, virtually all of Batman's old skills and gadgets are available from the very beginning, giving enough space to show off new elements of the game. It is extremely pleasing that Arkham City has resisted the trend of gradual simplification of games, because the battles with the dark star types are at least as easy as before, forcing not only to launch more and more complex attacks, but also to respond appropriately to the actions of opponents. And they have learned many new tricks since visiting Arkham Asylum, and they can use shields resistant to standard attacks, for example. The Batman is not indebted to them in this matter, sending a swarm of bats on them, running into opponents and then trampling them or in a more sophisticated way attacking them from above. As in the previous part, aggressive solutions are not always desirable and occasionally we can (or even must) sneak a little. Here, the general assumptions are very similar to the previous ones, but you have to deal with many new difficulties. For example, opponents can now use devices that prevent them from being tracked in detective mode, set up treacherous traps, or use proximity mines to block surprise attacks. Their growing nervousness is manifested, manifesting itself in the form of blind shooting or the threat of killing hostages.

Moving on to the subject of fights, it would be a shameful mistake to skip duels with bosses, which are a very important element of the whole. I will tell you a secret that after the first two skirmishes I had some concerns whether the authors stood up to the task this time. Fortunately, the next ones proved to be incomparably better. The coolest thing is that virtually every boss battle has different assumptions. Once we should direct them to explosive objects, and at other times stop them from regenerating. I remembered the clash the most, during which the game forces a total change in tactics after each successful attack, thus eliminating the rolling patent known from other games to the fallen universal method of defeating the opponent.

Batman would not be himself without his toys, and in this area should be noted a lot of progress. The game has all the equipment elements from "one", but most of them have been significantly improved. For example, hook links can now be used as a catapult, and a sequential decryptor, among others, to break into security systems, which is illustrated in the form of a cool minigame. Even more interesting are the completely new devices that absolutely do not seem to be added by force. By far the most universal of them is the electric impulse, used both to stun rivals and to temporarily activate industrial engines. Objects designed by Mr. Freeze are also brilliant, thanks to which you can freeze opponents, for example. Getting more gadgets and upgrades to existing ones has been well balanced, which is why we are successively given new equipment to the very end of the game.

The definitely right decision in the case of Arkham City turned out to be a very noticeable step towards a greater opening of the game world, especially when we remember the first part, in which freedom of action was often clearly limited. What's more, the whole is filled to the brim with content. The main plot itself is a matter of at least 10-15 hours of fun and I didn't feel tired during the walk. In addition to the basic campaign, there are mainly side missions available in the game, and while some of them are typical "zapchajdziury" (eg monotonous rescue of subsequent political prisoners), there are also real gems. I just liked the quests related to releasing people held by the Riddle Man and tracking down Deadshot, the most recognizable killer commissioned by this universe. Of course, you cannot miss the Catwoman's bonus missions, which not only has its own distinct range of skills and gadgets, but also can get rid of enemies in a more spectacular way than Batman. And finally, a whole bunch of secrets and challenges, of which the first part has already become famous. Interestingly, finding hidden objects is now even more difficult, because in order to get to know where to place them, you have to overcome and interrogate specially marked informants. In addition, it requires us to skillfully use our equipment more often than before. All this means that the time needed for gardening the whole can be counted in tens of hours.

Arkham Asylum resort offered a number of really nice spots, but now it must give way to the beautiful panorama of Arkham City. The surroundings are full of details and have their own specific, slightly depressing atmosphere. The chill of the screen is not only the result of the harsh winter prevailing in the game, but also the specifics of the areas traversed, which in the past were shabby slums. Let me complain a little about the size of the game world here. Arkham City is indeed much wider than Arkham Asylum, but in a production offering great freedom of movement, you would like an even larger area of operation. It would not be so noticeable, if not for the fact that due to the huge number of secrets it is impossible to cover several dozen meters without bumping into a new puzzle. Fortunately, the limited size of the main map is more than compensated by the large variety of locations studied, including a museum, an abandoned police station, a steel mill, and an extensive network of metro tunnels. Their architecture should also be praised, which is especially noticeable in stealth missions. Fans of "crazy" stages should also be satisfied, because in the sequel something like the Scarecrow levels from the previous installment of the cycle has been prepared. From other achievements in the field of graphics I feel obliged to mention the brilliant mimicry of the main characters of the story (here again Joker excels), new attack animations that did not turn out to be words thrown into the wind, and finally great optimization of the game engine. The reviewed version for Xbox 360 has never happened to crop, even with dozens of active opponents on the screen.

The sound layer is again a spectacle of one actor. Mark Hamill's joking voice once again fulfilled this task, making me look forward to the next scenes involving the eternal enemy Batman. The rest of the characters did not fare at all and it is worth mentioning the frequent talks of bandits roaming the streets of Arkham City, who regularly and sometimes comment on events in the city in a very funny and explicit way. Speaking of vocals, it is also worth adding that for the first time in the history of the series Batman offers Polish subtitles, also on consoles.

Batman: Arkham City is an excellent position and undoubtedly one of the stone candidates for the title of the game of the year. The second part is even more refined than the original, not allowing you to tear yourself away from the screen due to addictive gameplay solutions, a very interesting plot and extremely rich content. I assure you that this is not a title that after one or two evenings we will let him dust on the shelf. Fans of the previous installment of Batman's adventures of the new production probably do not need to specifically recommend, and freshly baked lovers of virtual entertainment I advise you to familiarize yourself with the entire series as soon as possible. May more such games.

Jacek "Stranger" Noise