Does Arkham City Live Up To Arkham Asylum?

A year after the events of Arkham Asylum, Quincy Sharp has become the mayor of Gotham City by taking credit for stopping the Joker.  Mayor Sharp decides Arkham and Blackgate Penitentiary are not suitable for containing the criminals and severely insane (i.e. the Joker), so he buys a large portion of Gotham’s slums and turns it into a giant open-air prison dubbed Arkham City.  Hugo Strange is placed in charged of the facility and that’s when all the problems start.

I remembered hearing about how you play as Catwoman in the first quarter of the campaign.  When I went to play I was prompted to redeem the code to unlock Ms. Selina Kyle, but it wasn’t required.  So you could play the game without ever having to dive into the separate storyline involving Catwoman and never miss a beat.  For those that haven’t played “Arkham City” yet, you don’t play as Catwoman for all that long.  At four different points in the game you will be able to play as Catwoman, and each of those portions last about 5 to 10 minutes.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that your weapons from “Arkham Asylum” were made readily available from the get go.  The reason this made me happy was because I’m the friggin Batman and the majority of these weapons would be on my person at all times.  Still, there is some stuff that you need to unlock, like the Sonic Batarang, Cryptographic Sequencer and armor upgrades for both melee and armor defenses.

Some new weapons added to the arsenal in “Arkham City” are:

  • Smoke Bombs – Used to stealthily escape and/or surprise attack your enemies.
  • Freeze Technology – Used to freeze environmental hazards and create ice platforms to cross water.
  • Electronic Pulse Generator (EPG) – Used to stun enemies (really just scare them) and power electrical equipment.
  • Disruptor – Used to disable enemy weapons.

The voice acting is superb.  Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are back to voice the Batman and the Joker, respectively.  Castle‘s Stana Katic joins the cast as Talia al Ghul, Tara Strong takes over as the voice of Harley Quinn, and Grey Delisle as Catwoman all do a fantastic job rounding out the cast.  The story is of Hollywood summer blockbuster proportions and fits perfectly within the DC and Batman-verse.  My only complaint is that the main story isn’t all that long.  Yes, there are a lot of side quests to be completed, but the main story is why you’re playing the game and should have at least 15 to 20 hours of gameplay, at least that’s just my preference.  I am not a big fan of the challenge arenas.  I just don’t have fun playing them, and in “Arkham City” there are a lot more of them. Catwoman as well as Nightwing and Robin (when their DLC’s come out) have challenge maps specifically for them, but can also be used in all the other maps.

Speaking of maps, Arkham City is huge, and with such a huge map there are plenty of enemies to fight, 400 riddler trophies to find, riddles to solve, etc.  I just wish that there were more side quests.  I am hoping for plenty of DLC, and I am not talking about challenge maps and additional characters to use in them, but rather additional side quests to get me to go back into Arkham City.  I guess kind of in the same way you can just select Catwoman and roam the city just doing her missions, I think we should also be able to do that with Robin and Nightwing.

Just like “Arkham Asylum,” the combat is extremely fluid.  If you had played “Arkham Asylum” then you would feel right at home in “Arkham City.”  What is a great change of pace is playing as Catwoman.  Where Batman’s techniques rely on strength, Catwoman’s rely on flexibility, stamina and acrobatics.  Just like when playing as Batman you start to feel like you are Batman the same goes for Catwoman; the more you play as her the more you start to feel like you are Catwoman. All characters have their own unlockables, so each character will have their own specific weapons and armor upgrades, as well as different costumes.

Honest to God, “Arkham City” makes “Arkham Asylum” seem like an alpha build.  Saying that “Arkham City” is the best superhero game ever made (to date) is an understatement.  The voice acting, graphics, controls, gameplay, and story are all top notch and more than make the game worth your $60 or in my case $108.

Final Verdict for Batman: Arkham City

5 out of 5