Hundreds and hundreds of reviewers world-wide have praised and fondled the beauty, immersion and sheer greatness of Arkham City. I could follow their example and tell you how the open-world gameplay is the best I have ever seen, how the character design is so accurate and believable, it feels like Bob Kane (Batenarian reference) designed them himself especially for this game and how the storyline is so good (if a little unreal) that it really could hold up as a series of graphic novels all on it’s own.
I could do all these things, but I won’t.
Let’s be honest you don’t call a demolition expert to build a skyscraper and you didn’t come to me to hear how ‘good’ this game is so here we go then…
It’s kind of a ‘funny’ story:
I guess we should start at the beginning of the story, Dr Hugo Strange has been given ultimate control over the ‘narrows’ of Gotham city (which incidentally contains ‘crime alley’ which is situated BEHIND ‘Monarch Theatre’, which long time ‘Batenarians’ will know as, the place where, Bruce Wayne lost his family and begun his decent into cape and cowl madness).
Dr Strange has decided, the best way to deal with the criminal underbelly of Gotham city is to take them all (super-villains included) and throw them into a ‘walled in’ prison to fight it out amongst themselves, while Gotham city sleeps soundly in the knowledge that there are no more criminals left on the streets. (What are the police to do now?)
Billionaire playboy and long time ‘fundraiser’ Bruce Wayne (AKA Batman) has a little morality problem with Strange’s ‘solution’ to crime, so without any explanation whatsoever, Strange orders his little Para-military security group (the aptly named TYGER) to seize Wayne and throw him into Arkham City, with the rest of the criminal scum. Batman has run-ins with many famous faces throughout his travels including, The Joker, Mr Freeze, Bane and many more. All these while also lending some much needed face-time, to the often forgotten (nevertheless important and intriguing) characters such as The Mad Hatter, Solomon Grundy and Deadshot (who only REAL Batenarians will recognise).
Now that I have mentioned the characters and story (the best part), we have to talk about its minor flaws, controls and glitches.
A rush and a push…
The controls, oh dear lord, the controls, Rocksteady still haven’t implicated the auto-run function which is so desperately needed and crying out for attention (push the left analogue stick a little to walk and a little bit more to run). I mean come on, Hitman: Blood Money did it very well and that was released in 2006 (and made by flipping Eidos), you are telling me that SIX years later, we still haven’t reached the conclusion that, we do not need another button to make the character run, the analogue sticks are for movement and the buttons are for function, as soon as Rocksteady get this through their heads, the sooner I can bring myself to climax while playing their games. At the moment though I just feel a little used and (quite frankly) cheated-on.
Pains, Strains and Unbelievable Glitches
The glitches, the many glitches; this game suffers from the same things EVERY other sandbox game suffers from; bugs and ‘stuck-on scenery’ glitches. One instance of this; was when I had climbed to the top of the tallest point in Arkham City (which took me half an hour, because I played it on HARD) in hopes of grabbing a cheap and quick trophy, at this point, to my amazement, Batman leaped from a ledge and started to plummet to Earth (like a businessman who had just lost all his savings on horse racing), regardless of the fact that I had ordered him to jump up to a bar hanging out of the side of the ‘tallest point in Arkham City’. Another instance was;When I was gliding from one of the many grotesques in and around Arkham City down onto an unsuspecting henchman, when I overshot the landing by a few yards and this resulted in me being stuck IN a water tower on top of a building, needless to say I was annoyed.
I was so annoyed that I launched the controller across the room, it flew past the cat and exploded on impact with the door and with that… I went for a cup of tea.
Damnation through procrastination
New controller in hand and all tea’d-up.
Now I decided to go and play the side-missions. (Which until now I had put off due to Oblivionitus; which is the illness of being side-tracked from the main story due to very immersive side-quests and then completely forgetting about the main story all together, getting bored and subsequently trading the game in).
I was met with a rather nasty shock though, Rocksteady have been cheeky little buggers because (like many of you, I didn’t know this) they expect you to play the side-missions whilst you are playing the main story and if you decide (like me) that isn’t the way things are supposed to be done, and you decide to leave them until last, then you will be locked out of the missions quicker than a thieving prostitute from a sex-shop. You will then throw the controller across the room, scream at the top of your voice and lastly, fire a very insulting and offensive E-mail off to Rocksteady Studios. I digress.
Aside from that
In conclusion, Arkham City has A LOT to offer to the gamer who can sit through, bad mechanics and clunky game-play, in the hope that the story and character design will redeem it (which it does). It’s fun, exciting, surprising and extremely immersive, to the point that you actually feel like you are WATCHING the game, in place of playing it. Well designed characters, detailed environments and Hollywood-esque story-lines make for a fantastic 12 hour play session and a joyous re-play, well worth it’s £45 price tag (if you buy new, you get Catwoman too!, who has her own unique story and other features).
Side Note: The Riddler trophies return in full force (Catwoman has her own too) along with a Riddler themed side-quest, in which, you have to attain enough Riddler secrets to unlock a mission ,where-in, you embark on a puzzle-based survival quest to save, one of the many EMT’s and GCPD officer’s he has taken hostage and placed into his little demented machines and puzzles. Another returning theme is the much-loved, Challenge maps, both survival and Predator (No Joker mode this time though)
Play the challenge maps as you like and when you like, I could have given you detail about them, but that would be like buying you a present with a note attached to it, describing (in detail) what the gift is, go play the game already!