When I played “Arkham Asylum” (“A.A.”) back in 2009, I felt it had captured what it felt like to be Batman. All the gadgets, combat and dealing with his Rogues’ Gallery was the closest you could come to being the Dark Knight yourself. That is, until “Batman: Arkham City” came out.
With the sequel to “Arkham Asylum,” everything has been upped tenfold. With more gadgets, a totally redone combat system and over a dozen villains, “Arkham City” makes its game-of-the-year predecessor look mediocre.
The premise is that after the events of “Arkham Asylum,” Doctor Hugo Strange convinced the Mayor of Gotham to allow a large
section of the city to be walled off and created into a massive prison facility. Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego, campaigns against it and is subsequently captured by Strange’s guards and taken into Arkham City. Here Strange reveals that he knows Wayne’s secret identity as Batman and that he has plans for him and all the other criminals in Arkham City. This is where the game starts.
From “Arkham Asylum,” the decision to change it into an openworld game was an improvement. While “Arkham Asylum” was technically open world, it still had that linear feel of “go to this area and do that.” “Arkham City,” on the other hand, gives you the feeling of being able to take your time and do whatever you want. There isn’t just a main mission point to go to every time you get free reign of the city. There are 15 side missions that you can complete at your leisure, including taking down some major villains in the city or gliding missions that let you hone your main way of travel around Arkham.
One of my favorite parts of “Arkham City” though has to be the massive amount of villains that the developers managed to put into the game. “Arkham Asylum” had only about seven villains that you actually fight. In “Arkham City”s main story line, side missions, the Catwoman side missions and Robin Challenge packs, there are about 21 major villains whom you have to take down.
Each boss fight has been improved greatly as well. Instead of just rehashing the same Titan/Bane fights from the previous game, all the fights have their own unique feel. For instance, you can’t fight Mr. Freeze head on or he’ll just shoot you; you need to take him out using the environment.
The only downside to this game has to be the length of the story line. Just playing through the story, I managed to beat it on normal
in about two days. What makes up for this short story isn’t just the great acting, story and graphics, but the abundance of side missions available to you. Returning from the first game, are the Riddler’s trophies and riddles that you must solve to defeat the Riddler. The difficulty of collecting the trophies has been raised, so it’s not as easy as it was in the first game, and because there are about 400 to get, it will take some time to finish.
It’s very rare that a sequel outshines the original, but “Arkham City” manages to do just that. Double the villains, an open world environment, new gadgets, an amazing story and great voice work easily make “Arkham City” one of the best games this year.