Batman: Arkham City starring Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as the voices of Batman and Joker.
Having nearly finished Arkham Knight, here’s my review of its chronological predecessor: Arkham City. Arkham City is one of the highest rated games on previous gen consoles, and was considered by many the best of the first three Arkham games. It’s easy to see why, it expands on Arkham Asylum’s success and improves upon its predecessor in virtually every way. Detective Mode is still useful, though some enemies now have jammers to prevent you using it all the time in predator sections. The predator maps themselves are much better and will keep you busy for hours (particularly if you get the content allowing you to play as Nightwing, Robin and Catwoman on them) while combat has been drastically improved, with 5 quickfire gadgets and a host of new combat moves to help you deal with new enemy types (such as armoured enemies and ones carrying riot shields).
The plot? After the events at the Asylum, the prisoners and supervillains have been rehoused in a walled off section of Gotham, dubbed ‘Arkham City’, with three gangs led by Penguin, Two-Face and Joker controlling most of the streets. The facility is run by Hugo Strange, who captures Bruce Wayne in the game’s opening scene and reveals he has deduced his secret identity, before throwing him into Arkham City. The Joker is yet again the main villain, dying after his exposure to Titan in Asylum, he uses a blood transfusion to infect Batman with his tainted blood, forcing the bat to work with Joker to find a cure, leading him into confrontations with Penguin, Mr. Freeze and Ra’s al Ghul along the way.
The game now has various side missions to complete, where you take on the Batman villians who aren’t key to the main plot, such as Mad Hatter, Hush, Deadshot and Zsasz. These are all pretty good, although they’re aren’t many boss fights, meaning many of the side villains seem to be dealt with rather easily. The most prominent is Riddler, who in addition to posing more riddles and hiding riddler trophies everywhere, has kidnapped several people and trapped them in deadly Riddle rooms from which Batman has to use a wide variety of his gadgets to rescue them. Finding all 400 riddles (plus another 40 which only Catwoman can retrieve) is arguably just as time consuming as the main game.
On the subject of gadgets, Batman’s arsenal has been greatly expanded from the first game: in addition to the batclaw, explosive gel and batarangs he now has some ice grenades (made by Mr. Freeze), a disruptor capable of disabling enemy weapons and a REC (Remote electrical charge) launcher that can power up generators, as well as shocking enemies mid combat. All of his gadgets have a part to play, especially while solving Riddles or in the boss fight with Mr. Freeze (the most lauded in the entire game, as you have to use all of Batman’s different stealth moves, plus gadgets, to take him down). The other boss fights range from the fun (the one with Clayface and the one with Ra’s al Ghul mid-game) to the by the numbers (catwoman’s one against Two-Face) or the downright terrible (the one against Solomon Grundy, which is basically just spamming explosive gel for a few minutes). The two hardest ones are Ra’s and Freeze’s, though neither rival Poison Ivy’s in Asylum or Deathstroke’s in Origins for difficulty.
Overall a great Batman game, and one that should be played before moving onto Arkham Knight, only a few weak bosses and some frustratingly difficult Riddler trophies let it down.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
As for the downloadable content, apart from the novelty of playing as Robin (with various new gadgets) Harley Quinn’s Revenge doesn’t add much, but if you want another 1 and a half of game time, it’s worth getting. The catwoman episodes and playing as Robin and Nightwing on challenge maps are much more fun, they’re recommended.
DLC (Harley Quinn’s revenge) Rating: 3 out of 5
Next Up: The divisive prequel Arkham Origins: an equal to City or a game that fails to add anything to the series? Read on to find out…