Batman: Arkham City – Archived review

I’d like to say that I enjoyed this game as much as I enjoyed Arkham Asylum; based on the on-line reviews I’ve seen, I seem to be one of the few who was not as impressed with AC.

The main difference in the games is the setting. In AA, you were restricted to certain areas of the asylum, and were allowed to progress to more areas as the game went on. In AC, after the introduction you’re pretty much allowed to roam the entire city from the start. There are certain buildings you can’t enter until the plot permits it.

As with AA, the main plot of AC is fairly linear: Hugo Strange has managed to convince Gotham City to set aside a part of the city for its maniacs and criminals. Meanwhile, the Joker is suffering from the events of the previous game. As Batman, your job is trace Strange’s motives while dealing with Joker’s plans for a cure. You also get to play Catwoman, in an unrelated plot that mainly concerns Two-Face and Poison Ivy.

Aside from the main plot, there are several side missions you can pursue: Zsasz’s murder spree; a slasher impersonating Bruce Wayne; mysterious figures with enigmatic symbols; and Riddler’s puzzles, which are more complex than the ones in AA. There’s a lot to do, and the game doesn’t necessarily end with the conclusion of the main plot; for example, I haven’t completed the entire sequence of the side missions I’ve mentioned.

The main plot is my principle problem with the game. In AA, there was a certain amount of “bouncing around” but the main goal was always to confront the Joker. In AC, there’s a lot of shifting from villain to villain, for reasons that seem very arbitrary; for example, Mr. Freeze appears to switch motives back and forth, and Batman goes along all too easily. The climax of the main plot lacked the same kind of dramatic force of the first game; the “big surprise” seemed more motivated by real-world casting issues than a logical extension of the story.

I played the game on a PS3. It may be my imagination, but somehow the graphics seemed to lack the crispness of the previous game. But I haven’t compared them side-by-side to be sure.

If you’ve played Arkham Asylum and enjoyed it, you’ll get the same from Arkham City… or maybe only a fraction less. I was hoping for a fraction more.

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