Saturday, December 31, 2011

Love that Batman!

Game: Batman Arkham City

System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Release: October 2011

Batman Arkham Asylum is one of my favorite games of all time. The developers at Rocksteady finally produced a game where the player feels like Batman. A masterful blend of stealth and beat 'em up combat infused with gadgets and a strong narrative. With the release of Arkham City, Rocksteady expands the sandbox and enhances the already awesome formula. Check out the official trailer.

As you can see Batman has left the isolated island, and is now patrolling the much larger, more urban, Arkham City. This fenced of section of Gotham imprisons just about every villain, thug, and jay walker the city has ever seen. Hugo Strange is the mastermind behind the project, and claims to have a very big secret. He knows the true identity of...wait for it...a little bit longer...just one more dot dot dot...Batman!

The main narrative is shorter then the previous tittle. Sure there are plenty of twists and turns, but if a player ignores the side missions the game ends rather quickly. This isn't bad, and the voice acting is still top notch. The game is simply less narrative driven, and more focused on expanding the sandbox. This is accomplished by about a dozen side missions and easter eggs sprinkled throughout Arkham City.

Bat Punch!
When I first started playing I felt like I had attention deficit disorder. Go here. Beat up this guy. Go there find a clue. Hold on, call incoming from the Joker.  The sheer number of characters is staggering: Two-Face, Riddler, Catwoman, Bane, Hush, Mr. Freeze, Penguin, Joker, Harley Quinn, Ra's & Talia al Ghul, Clayface, Robin, Deadshot, Zasz, etc. etc. etc. Batman has a full nights work ahead of him, and fans of the franchise will appreciate the level of detail that went into the game world.

Moving about is easy and fun thanks to tweaks to the gliding and grappling hook functions. The combat has also been improved with a wider range of enemies and attacks. Batman, for example, can now break weapons, and thugs will wield car doors. Stealth sections present high tech enemies with signal jammers, mines, and night-vision goggles. Luckily you're Batman, and can handle such minor annoyances.

Fabulous as always.
Those who purchase the game new, or buys the dlc, will be able to play as Catwoman. Adding a new character to the mix was a great idea. The gameplay is familiar yet different. She doesn't move about like Batman bringing her own flair to Arkham City. She has her signature whip, but lacks some of the cooler gadgets Batman wields. Catwoman is also available in the Challenge Maps.

That's right! The Challenges are back and better then ever. Play as Robin (dlc), Nightwing (dlc), Batman, or Catwoman in a variety of stealth and/or brawler maps. These maps are unlocked by finding Riddler trophies in the story mode. The replay value is extremely high, and the dlc additions have been very fun. There is also a Campaign mode where you take on a set of three maps with various handicaps/power ups. Playing a map with low health or increased speed are just a couple of examples.

If the Challenges don't keep your attention, then try out the new game plus. Something I was craving from the first tittle makes it to the sequel. Players will start off with all the Riddler trophies, and upgrades from their first play through, but will face tougher enemies. Also, like the Hard difficultly of old, enemies will not have the squiggly lines above their heads when they are about to attack. This feature is a huge factor in regards to the games replay-ability.

Is this a sick joke? Ha ha ha
Rocksteady, my friends, don't ever change. The developers are 2 for 2 on the Batman front creating a franchise that feels remarkably fresh in a market full of clones. Snerts Snazzy Score is Full Price! Go out and support their talent. You won't be disappointed.

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