Before Arkham Asylum arrived there had not been a really good superhero game. With that said no one really knew what to expect and Rocksteady amazed everyone by finally making an amazing game about Batman. Arkham City is an improvement over Arkham Asylum in almost every way. This time the game is more of an open world title and you have a lot more freedom to do what you want when you want to do it. You can bring up your map at any time to see where you need to be whether it is a main storyline mission or completing a side quest. The environments look amazing and the voice work is superb. The development team over at Rocksteady did an amazing job bringing all of the villains to life as well.
One of the first things that you will notice about Arkham City is how good it looks. This is a very pretty game and Arkham City offers you a pretty big world to explore. In addition to the main missions you literally have hundreds of other things that you can do. There are side missions to partake in that range from rescuing political prisoners to investigating crime scenes or picking up an upgrade for your equipment. Riddler trophies and secrets are spread around the world which should keep you busy for a very long time. One amazing idea that the development team had was the ability to mark the location of a Riddler trophy on your map. Just because you find a trophy doesn’t mean you will be able to acquire it at that time so Rocksteady gave you the ability to scan the trophy so it appears on your map. It is an absolutely fantastic idea and should prevent someone from being in that predicament of only having a few more trophies to collect and they aren’t sure where to look. You can also keep track of your progress finding Riddler trophies as they break the numbers down by district. As you progress through the story you will also get the chance to utilize upgrades as you level up. You can level up the “batsuit,” “gadgets,” “combat,” “predator” and Catwoman. Amongst those categories you have to pick between leveling up your armor, combat abilities, your takedowns and much more. You also have character bios that you can check out as well as Arkham City Stories once you unlock them.
The gameplay itself is as fluid as ever. The combat flows really well in this game with the best example of that being when you are surrounded by a group of enemies. Being able to punch one guy and then quickly hit a counter on the guy standing behind me while Batman flips over him is amazing. There were other times when I would punch a guy and then quickly disarm someone else before they could fire at me. Much like the original title, Arkham City will let you attack from all angles. I loved being able to play a game of cat and mouse with the opposition as I would silently take someone out and then vanish from the scene before anyone knew what was happening. As they started to notice their fallen comrades the guards would get more nervous and their behaviors would change. There were other times when I would quietly sneak up behind two guys that are talking and crack their skulls together eliminating both of them in an instant. The amount of weapons at your disposal is pretty amazing as you have your Batarangs, Bat Claws, Remote Electrical Charge and much more. There are a number of different ways to dispatch your enemies and part of the fun is figuring out the best way to take them out in any given situation.
I mentioned above that Arkham City is a very pretty game, however, the beauty doesn’t stop with the graphical fidelity. The voice work in Arkham City is amazing and it does a tremendous job of portraying each character. Nolan North did an amazing job assuming the role of Penguin while Mark Hamill was as good as ever. His Joker is pretty awe inspiring and is one of the things that have made both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City amazing titles. You can sense how vibrant the world is as you are swinging through it and one of the things that I really liked doing was eavesdropping on the conversations of Joker’s crew which would give me some insight into the story I might not have heard otherwise. Just getting through the world is part of the fun and with Batman’s “grapnel” you can swing and glide your way through the skies of Arkham City. There were some side missions where I was under a really strict timer and I would utilize these methods to try and get to my destination as soon as possible. The story in the game is also wonderfully told with a good number of villains making an appearance from Joker to Harley Quinn, Dr. Strange and more that I won’t spoil. There are a good number of twists in the story and you can feel the history that Batman has with these characters thanks to the top notch writing.
Of course with this being a Wii U title there are a number of GamePad specific features here as well. For starters, think of the GamePad as your personal “Bat computer”. The default look on the screen shows a map of the area you are in along with a plethora of different options. For starters you can simply hit “objectives” on the screen and it will bring up your current objective. This could be useful for someone who has simply been exploring the city for a while and wants to get a quick reminder about how to progress the main story. This also allows you to get a status update on any side missions you have in progress. Next is the data button which will give you access to bios, stories and challenges. As you progress through the game you will unlock various bios and this is the place to get some back story on your favorite character. As you unlock stories throughout the game you will also be able to revisit them here. This is also a good spot to check on different challenges throughout the game. By picking a selection on the GamePad’s screen you will be given information as to how you are doing at any one location. If you hit museum, for example, it will show you how many of the Riddler trophies you have collected in that area, how many of the Catwoman trophies you have picked up and how many of the riddles you have solved. There are also physical challenges for you to do such as gliding continuously for 150 meters without using the Grapnel Boost upgrade or using three Quickfire gadgets in one combat encounter. There is an “Arkham City” button that will show you a map of the city instead of the specific building you are in and will even highlight your current location on the map. Next up is the sonar feature which will allow you to get a quick glance around the room so you know what the current situation is. It will show both friendlies and enemies on your sonar so you know how much of each is in the area and I would use this to help me plan out my plan of attack.
A new feature to this game is also the Battle Armored Tech (B.A.T.) mode. What this essentially does is allow you to build up kinetic energy during battle and then once you have stored up enough energy you can enter B.A.T. mode which will allow you to deal out even more damage to your enemies as well as experiencing heightened awareness. There are also new armored suits for both Batman and Catwoman alike. Finally you have the upgrade system which is done completely with the GamePad. By selecting “Waynetech” on the GamePad you are allowed to choose where you want to apply the upgrade you just earned. You can upgrade the bat suit, gadgets, combat abilities, predator abilities or Catwoman. A couple of quick selections on the GamePad and you are good to go and can take advantage of your new power. One of my favorite gadgets became the “Disruptor: Firearm Jammer” where I could jam the guns the enemy had without them realizing it which would make things a lot easier, especially if I was in a room that had a high number of enemies that I had to get through.
Of course the GamePad has some gameplay uses as well. You enter detective mode by hitting the “L” button which allows you to scan the environment just like in the 360 version. However if you want to inspect something on the ground you can hold the GamePad up to the screen and by pressing the triggers the GamePad basically becomes a scanner and once you scan the environment and find what you are looking for you simply hold the “B” button to collect data from that evidence. By hitting up on the d-pad you can quickly bring up your inventory and equip an item at a moments notice. With a couple quick touches on the GamePad screen I was able to equip my remote controlled batarang or my cryptographic sequencer so that I could hack a lock that was in my way. The hacking mini-game for the Cryptographic Sequencer takes place on the GamePad screen as well as you have to drag the sylus (or your finger) across the screen to find where a specific node is without getting hit by a laser that is constantly going across the screen. Once you find the correct number of nodes the password will reveal itself to you and everything will unlock. You also use the GamePad screen to control the remote controlled batarang which I found easier to do instead of controlling it with the analog stick like you have to do in the other versions. You simply throw the batarang and then control where it goes by looking at the GamePad screen and moving the GamePad accordingly. It’s basically like you are flying where if you want to turn left you turn the GamePad left, if you want the batarang to go up you point the GamePad up towards the ceiling and more. If you want to play Arkham City strictly on the GamePad you can do that as well by “activating” the GamePad only mode. Batman Arkham City Armored Edition also includes the DLC on disc that you had to buy with the other versions as well making the Wii U version the most complete version of Arkham City available.
In addition to the main story you have a number of other options to occupy your time. First you have the Challenge maps which will test your skills while adding specific objectives. Once you go Catwoman’s episodes in the main story you can replay them at any time. If you are a big fan of the Batman universe in general there is a bunch of environment and character concept art that you can look at. You also have access to the 3D character models so you can look at your favorite characters up close. The amount of stuff to see and do and the massive number of collectibles in the game is definitely impressive and will keep gamers busy for a long time.
Batman: Arkham City really is a tremendous title. Not only is this a really amazing Batman title, it is a really amazing action adventure title overall. My only complaint is that some of the boss battles were a little annoying, however, the game overall is a masterpiece. Arkham City is a really fun world to explore and I love how smoothly the game runs even when there is a lot of action taking place on the screen. You really do feel like a superhero while simultaneously seeing how vulnerable Batman is in certain situations. I am also really impressed with how much work WB put in to this version. This isn’t just another game that was ported to the Wii U. They took a lot of time and put in a lot of work and it shows with how they utilized the GamePad. With this being a launch title I can’t wait to see what they come up with once they get a better understanding of the sytem. In a holiday season filled with blockbuster releases Batman: Arkham City is a game everyone should experience. From beginning to end Batman: Arkham City is a spectacular ride and a tribute to the immense amount of talent over at Rocksteady and WB Games Montreal.
- Arkham City is a huge world that will keep you busy for a while.
- Wii U specific features work well. This isn't just another port.
- Some of the boss battles were a little annoying.
Summary: Another amazing Batman title put out by Rocksteady and WB Games Montreal. All of the Wii U specific features work well and add to the experience.
- Format: Wii U
- Developer: Rocksteady, WB Games Montreal
- Publisher: Warner Bros
- Release Date: November 18, 2012
Batman Arkham City Armored Edition – Review,