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Batman Arkham City review
Now that the game has been out for a month I think it's time to review Batman Arkham City. Be gentle with me, I've never reviewed a game before.
I was a big fan of Arkham Asylum and was positively atwitter when I heard about the sequel. Asylum totally deserved to be 2009's game of the year and City certainly holds up to it's level of quality. I don't know that I could say, "Well you'll like it if you like..." because I honestly don't play that
many games. A few, but I'm not gamer savvy as some people. However, if you liked Arkham Asylum, you'll like Arkham City lol.
Now I'm the kind of person who likes to play through the story mode then go back and pick up all the things that were skipped. When you do this the story mode seems a little... thin. However on second time around playing the game, I noticed a great deal of story content that I missed first time around. Being a life long Batman fan these little hidden nuances really paid off for me and I preferred the story the second time around.
A lot of people don't seem to really care too much about a game's voice cast, but I do. Kevin Conroy reprises his role as Batman. He did the voice in Asylum and has played Batman for nearly 20 years. As a kid who grew up on The Adventures of Batman and Robin, Gotham Knights and The Justice League/JLU it's a great treat to play my
Batman. Mark Hamill also reprises his role as The Joker, another role he's played for nearly 20 years. However I am deeply saddened to hear that Mark is retiring from the voice of The Joker. Arleen Sorkin played the original Harkey from the shows and Asylum, but Tara Strong steps in in City. While I'm a big fan of Tara's (Raven-Teen Titans & Barbra Gordon-TAS & Batman Beyond) I really missed Arleen's voice for Harley. Those of you who are hard core TAS fans will no doubt miss the voice talents of David Warner (Ra's Al Ghul), Roddy McDowell (Mad Hatter) and Richard Mall (Two-face), but may be pleased to catch the voices of Steve Blum (Wolverine-Wolverine and the X-Men), Troy Baker (Yamato-Naruto) and even Stanya Katic (Det. Kate Beckett-Castle) as the seductive Talia Al Ghul.
The game-play is pretty sweet. Same as it was in Asylum, perhaps dressed up a bit here and there. You don't feel like you're playing a different game. More like a freaking sweet add-on lol. Free flow combat is a touch different with a wider range of take-downs and nameless baddies to use them on. You'll find yourself using the stun feature more often than you may have for Asylum. There is also a free-flow gadgets feature you can upgrade which allows you to seamlessly use gadgets when surrounded by multiple foes. Which is really nice, just leave the hints turned on when you begin the game. It helps.
As far as gadgets go you pretty much start off with what you had at the end of Asylum, which again is rather nice. You gain more useful items as the game progresses and my favorite of all of them is the zip-line. It increases the speed of your grapple and allows you to launch over obstacles. You do a lot of gliding to navigate the city and the zip-line is completely worth it. Though I do advise not pushing through the game to finish the story too quickly. I've done this on my second time around and have apparently missed the opportunity to upgrade to the zip-line. It comes in very handy during the Zaasz side missions, but isn't necessary if you know your way around town. It's just really really cool.
EDIT: With a case of insomnia I decided to see if I couldn't beat some of the air training courses. Turns out you have to defeat 3 or 4 augmented reality training courses in order to get the zipline. So do those as quick as you can if you want the zip-line. It's worth it.
Speaking of side missions they make the game feel much fuller than Asylum. They get you a little side tracked, add intensity to the urgency of finishing the story and provide some nice background bits. You can completely ignore all the side missions too if you want, but I wouldn't. I did that the second time playing and while I had fun, I wouldn't say I had as much fun as I did the first time. I'm just doing quite a bit of catchup.
The Riddler extras can be a little infuriating. Fun, but infuriating. You're forced to rely on all of your Dark Knightly abilities to access them all, trophies and riddles included. Rather than locating maps as you did in Asylum, you come across thugs who have been helping the Riddler. They show up haloed in green after beginning the Riddler's side mission. Sometimes you find these guys all over the place, sometimes hardly at all. There is added intensity by having to take these guys out last when you're engaging enemies. Be sure not to accidentally use a take-down when you come across them, you'll have to go in search of another. They don't necessarily have the information you're looking for or the information concerning their current location. So that's a wee bit annoying. Still, without these guys it would be impossible to find everything Riddler related in this vast city.
You also have to rescue hostages from traps set by the Riddler. They're often puzzles and grow in difficulty as you progress. However, if you haven't found enough trophies and solved enough riddles, you're forced to play catchup. So keep an eye out for trophies and grab hat you can when you can. You won't be saving many hostages otherwise.
The Catwoman side story is pretty cool. Short, as if they were testing whether she was going to be openly accepted by players, but being a chick, I found it rather fun. I don't know how most guys feel being forced to play her bits, but watching her shapely figure sway side to side as she moves probably makes up for any animosity they might have. Though... being a gal maself I have to admit, her butt could have been just a little more realistic.
Her tools include her basic whip, which is pretty cool. Especially when you're bogged down by enemies. My favorite of her tools are caltrops, which she can launch into a group of unsuspecting baddies or use like batarangs and in free flow combat. They bring a baddy down for a take-down pretty well. She also has a bolo, but I've not really been using it. It's probably pretty cool but I can't think to use it when I'm surrounded by 30 some odd baddies at once.
I'm not a big fan of how she navigates the city, but it's alright I guess. Whereas Batman grapples, she uses her whip, then jumps up to a location. It just feels a little slow after getting used to grappling and gliding all over the city as the B-Man. She does have the ability to crawl up side down along grating, which is awesome for taking out baddies without being detected. It also works well for snatching some of the few Riddler trophies she has.
Side note: Batman gets electrocuted and chided by Riddler if he tries to pick up one of Catwoman's trophies. So don't do that lol.
Overall I'm pleased with Catwoman, just think that whip navigation and butt could be a little better.
My only true gripe about the game is the same as probably everyone else. With 62% of the game complete, I ended up with a corrupt save. This means I lost EVERYTHING. Apparently Rocksteady released a patch to fix this, but it hasn't worked to fix the problem... or maybe it prevents future errors, I'm not sure. All I know is that I'm currently 53% through my second play through and I'm anticipating it happening again. It does not please me that being over half done with the game I was forced to start all over again. But... it... it's a really cool game. Sure it made me mad... really mad... mad enough that I didn't play for over a week, but the game is cool enough that you're going to want to play it over again any way. And on you're second time through you're much better at everything any way lol.
If this Corrupt Save thing happens to you, I hear you can save the game to a flash drive, delete the current game and download back into your console... though, it didn't work for me. Such is life as the French say.
That's all I can review on so far. Like I said, I'm not done and I still have Riddler challenges and trophies to find, but aside from the corrupt save malfunction, I don't have any complaints at all. Hopefully Rocksteady will get their British butts in gear and fix the problem before too many people light their torches and grab their pitchforks. Despite this issue I say it's totally worth your $60... or if you're like me you have to get the collectors edition... which is decidedly more...
If you haven't played Arkham Asylum, I suggest you do. It's a great practice run to get you ready for the awesome that is Arkham City.
I give is eight stars out of ten. It would get nine if not for the corrupt save thing.
Happy gaming and I hope this review helped.
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