Batman: Arkham City Review
A new open world setting and improved combat make up the best Batman game yet
Posted by Tom McGhin (ValTine) on Oct 25, 2011 - 12:25am EST (Oct 25, 2011 00:25)
Batman: Arkham City has a very similar combat system to its predecessor with a few tweaks and upgrades. The fluid combat returns with well-timed hits and counters resulting in powerful finishers that are mandatory on harder difficulties. The melee combat is mixed with new gadgets like the freeze bomb, which result in a good variety of options during a fight. Stealth segments are also plentiful as it wouldn’t be Batman without them. You are sometimes tasked with taking out a room without being noticed and this gets drastically harder with thermal imaging, snipers, and proximity mines. Finally there are boss battles that are quite large in scale that test your dodging skills and gadget use, as many of Batman’s foes can’t be taken on toe to toe. This culminates in an enjoyable battle system that rewards well timed button presses and mixed up gadget use.
The presentation of this game is top notch, but does suffer from a few minor technical issues. The aesthetic is classic Batman with a gritty, dilapidated, crime ridden city that feels gloomy and hopeless. This also comes through in the character models as each character has their own distinct feel, especially the villains with strong animations that are fluid and natural. The game has crisp textures with pretty long draw distances. This is all marred by Arkham City’s decently long load times though. Every time you transition indoors or die you are greeted with a load screen. The load time isn’t unbearably long, but if you find yourself dying in quick succession it can get quite aggravating. There are also some slowdown and frame rate issues in areas with large amounts of enemies on the over world. This was only noticeable in a few areas, but it is worthy of note.
Arkham City sports a good soundtrack and an even better cast of voice actors. The soundtrack is versatile, switching between quiet in the background to strong and loud in the forefront. This helps to accentuate battle scenes and the panic during stealth segments. The voice work is top notch with Mark Hamill returning as the Joker and Kevin Conroy as Batman. Other strong voice actors fill in the rest of the cast including Nolan North who slips in playing a character you may not recognize him as. The soundtrack and voice work really come together and add to the presentation and style.
Batman: Arkham City is an excellent follow up to Arkham Asylum, building upon the gameplay mechanics introduced in its predecessor. The main story and side missions are fast paced and enjoyable creating a strong narrative that flows well and at a consistent pace. The game is packed with missions and diversions that encourage multiple playthroughs, resulting in a lengthy experience. The presentation and aesthetic is classic Batman with a run-down and gloomy city fraught with villains. The soundtrack and voice work help to accentuate the experience making you feel like you are in a Batman comic. Unfortunately the game suffers from some annoying load times and slowdown in some areas, but these technical issues are minor in scope. If you enjoy action games and are a super hero fan - be sure to check this game out.