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I haven’t done a video game memories blog for some time now and I really want to get back into the swing of things as there are many video games I want to talk about. Batman Arkham Knight is just around the corner so what better game to look back on than one of the greatest video games of all time, Batman Arkham City.
Yes, I did say one of the greatest games ever because it is. Everything about it was spot on. Batman Arkham City is close to videogame perfection that you’ll ever come across.
I enjoyed its predecessor, Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady did the Asylum justice with it the dark, demonic, gothic mood of Gotham’s infamous Asylum combined with addictive gameplay, quality character depth and superb voice acting. It was game of the year in 2009 and rightfully so. Eventually, “Arkham Asylum 2” was announced the following year. The title Arkham Asylum 2 made me pretty nervous. Was Batman going to return to the same Asylum with the exact same layout as the previous game? Thankfully I was wrong. Instead, the game was renamed Arkham City and what I heard about it just blew my mind completely.
So what’s the story? Arkham City takes place one year after the events which occurred at Arkham Asylum. The Asylum’s former Warden, Quincy Sharp, is appointed the new Mayor of Gotham after claiming that he was the one who put a stop to the Joker’s plans. With both the Asylum and Blackgate Prison in no fit state to hold prisoners, Mayor Sharp purchases the Gotham slums, converting the area into an immense prison named Arkham City. The city is placed in care of psychiatrist Hugo Strange and monitored by a private military firm, TYGER security. The inmates have been given free reign of the city so long as they don’t attempt to escape. Batman is wary of the situation fearing that it will spiral out of control. Elsewhere, Joker is slowly dying after consuming the Titan formula, an unstable steroid serum which Bane uses, back at the Asylum. After learning about Hugo Strange launching ‘Protocol Ten’ and Two Face threatening to publically execute Catwoman, Batman has no option but to enter Arkham City.
How’s that for a story? I honestly rank it as one of the greatest Batman stories ever told along with Year One & The Dark Knight Returns.
Arkham City itself is a huge open environment which allows the player to roam round as they please to explore the criminal underbelly of Gotham City. There are so many references to famous Batman moments including a Flying Graysons poster (with a cancelled sticker plastered across it), Ace Chemicals and Crime Alley where the chalk outlines of Thomas and Martha Wayne remain. There’s also a few easter eggs directed to some of Batman’s rouges including Firefly, The Ventriloquist, Maxie Zeus and Scarecrow.
Rocksteady did an incredible job in their character design and this is demonstrated perfectly by Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin. Giving him a cockney accent was just perfect (its funny hearing him call Batman a “wanker”). It suits him to the ground. Another example good character design would be the Calendar Man. Rocksteady have taken an obscure villain and made something of him. It’s a complete 360 from his comic book counterpart, and giving him one leg shorter than the other adds another layer to one of my all-time guilty pleasure villains.
Another villain that deserves praise is Mr Freeze. That Mr Freeze boss fight is the greatest boss fight in the history of video games. That’s a pretty bold statement to make, but if you did play the game then it easy to see why I think that. You can’t use the same tactics twice. You have to constantly rethink throughout the battle. It amazes me that this style of boss fight has never appeared before. It’s something you’d expect to see in a Metal Gear game, but even they didn’t do it.
Aside from the main story you’ve got a lot of other side-missions going on. Unlike in Arkham Asylum, the Riddler trophies have some meaning this time round. You have to solve so many riddles in order to obtain a hideout where you have to save one of the Riddler’s hostages in a Saw-like trap. Another side mission sees you tracking down an anonymous killer who is carving off certain facial parts off his victims. So the replay value is there way after you’ve completed the main story.
Arkham City also allows you to control a second character: Catwoman (Pre-Order DLC). She has her own dealings with Two-Face and is armed with a variety of weapons too. The gameplay is noticeable different with her. She isn’t as strong as Batman meaning that it takes time to take out enemies, but she is a whole lot more agile that the Dark Knight.
Arkham City sets the standard as what a Batman video game should be like. Arkham Origins was a good game I admit, but it wasn’t great and that’s because AC has set the bar very high. I’m looking forward to Arkham Knight, the final Rocksteady Batman game in the series. It’s been delayed so many times (was supposed to be out at the beginning of this month) so you can see that the developers are really wanting to take their time with it. It shows that they care about the fans and really want to deliver the goods one last time.
I’ve heard the rumours regarding a Arkham City re-release for the PS4 with HD graphics. I so hope that’s true because I would love to play that game once again. I still have my copy of it despite selling my PS3. It was the collector’s edition which came with a statue of Batman.
Will I ever play Arkham City again? Never say never.
It’s one game that you must play before you die.
How would I sum up Arkham City in one word?