Publisher: Eidos Interactive
The Dark Knight is back! This time, in the heart of Gotham, a new super-prison Arkham City, is ravaged by gangs and supervillains alike.
The Caped Crusader will be faced with new threats, along with old friends, or in some cases, enemies.
With the previous game receiving such overwhelming acclaim, the spawning of a new series was inevitable. This was the creators’ chance to advance the setting, expand the lure of the franchise, and enhance Batman’s arsenal.
New Prison, New Threat
After the events of the most recent instalment, a newly-established mega-prison emerged: Arkham City. As founder and warden, Doctor Hugo Strange stacked up a large range of well-known criminals, gangs and political prisoners in one final bid to cleanse Gotham of its scum.
As one of the prisoners, Bruce Wayne must break free, don the cape, and cowl and put an end to the mad doctor and his twisted sense of justice.
Batman is also poisoned by the Joker who is suffering from a fatal disease after injecting himself with Titan in the last game. With both men dying, Batman must discover a cure before he and his arch-rival perish under the virus.
Also on the scene is Catwoman, who has her eyes set on breaking into Strange’s Confiscated Vault for the score of a lifetime.
In his fight against crime, The World’s Greatest Detective prides on studying the world’s martial arts for combat. His arsenal includes but is not limited to; boxing, karate, taekwondo, Muay Thai, judo, BJJ, and ninjitsu.
As a Ninja, Batman not only projects fear onto the superstitious and cowardly, but blends himself in with the dark, and lurks above his targets before swooping in to subdue them with ease.
Through the DLC, the player can also fight crime as Catwoman, Nightwing, and Robin. Each comes with their own style of martial arts.
Catwoman incorporates a feline style of capoeira and hapkido, Nightwing specialises in escrima, and Robin bases his fighting method on a bo staff.
Gadgets and Combos
Following the events of Arkham Asylum, some of Batman’s gadgets now return with a welcome upgrade to gain an edge in his never-ending war on crime: The Batarang!
This is now capable of being guided remotely with its new remote-controlled version, The Reverse Batarang! This provides the power to attack targets from behind, and finally…The Sonic Shock Batarang, which is a useful tool to incapacitate your enemy upon detonation.
Batman has also bought some new toys to the party: Smoke Pellets to distract or escape armed assailants; a Remote Electrical charge for stunning enemies and re-activating generators; a Line Launcher for travelling to desired positions from a great distance; a Disruptor for overriding weaponry; and finally the Freeze Blast, a handy projectile created by Mr Freeze, which when detonated on impact, could be used to solidify water or temporarily incapacitate thugs.
As established in the last game, the player can boost their score after finishing a combat situation by performing a variety of attacks through counter attacks and gadgetry that add up to the total combat variation Bonus.
Batman has a range of Special Combos, including stunning a multitude of thugs with Bat Swarm, knocking out grounded opponents, and reaching out to the enemies’ weapon to disarm and destroy.
On the subject of DLC characters, Catwoman utilises her whip to trip her enemies, Robin adopts a similar takedown with his bo staff, and Nightwing wields his escrima sticks to ricochet around the battlefield and unleash a storm of electricity.
The City and Graphics
Trapped in a crime-ridden city prison, Batman must take it upon himself to scour the city. There he will discover the base of a criminal operation, an underground secret society and a glacial hideout.
As part of Batman’s duty to protect the political prisoners and the police, the Caped Crusader is to utilise his crime-solving skills and gadgetry in order to foil assassins, psychopaths, and riddle obsessed masterminds.
Rocksteady Studios once again brings its A-game to Batman: Arkham City. Although the gothic aesthetic is non-existent in this instalment, the cold climate and dreary wreckage of an abandoned city-turned super prison perfectly encapsulates how unforgiving the medical and political scope of corruption can be.
With the sheer scope of the newly -maximized security prison, comes a new line-up of bosses from the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery for Batman to battle.
After forcing the Penguin into a corner, the tables are turned on Batman when he falls into Cobblepot’s trap, and is forced to defend himself against the undead monstrosity that is Solomon Grundy.
It is in the player’s best interest to keep a distance from Grundy while he’s on the offensive and to evade his attacks until you have the chance to target the three generators (the source of Grundy’s strength). Only then will it be possible to strike the hulking zombie.
Succeeding in tracking down Ra’s al Ghul in the underground city of the League of Assassins, Batman must subdue the immortal warrior in order to extract his blood to form a cure. But Ra’s has no plan to give it up without a fight.
Ra’s al Ghul’s offence revolves around cloned sand combatants and a towering avatar. Trapped in the desert wasteland, Batman must keep fighting until he can break free from the hallucination and force Ra’s to come out of hiding.
Just when a cure had finally been developed, things start to take a sudden turn when Mr Freeze demands the safe return of his wife.
This is a good time for Batman to use both stealth and gadgets to ambush and neutralise Freeze. Freeze will render the first ambush useless, so the player will have to find new approaches until Freeze finally succumbs to Batman’s wrath.
The final boss of the game, Clayface, is by far the most versatile of the previous foes. He can attack at a great distance and is hard to harm.
Batman’s only effective tool is the Freeze Blast developed by Mr Freeze. The best bet for the player is to keep throwing the Freeze Blast at Clayface until his health (lifeforce) bar reaches zero, and to lure him into a stack of explosives when he charges to deal some serious damage.
The goal of a sequel is to raise the stakes and increase the scope of the foundation of its predecessor. And that’s exactly what Rocksteady Studios did in its second outing here by expanding the setting, enlarging the rogues gallery, and shedding light on Batman’s past.
The extension of the utility belt and upgrades to the gadgets aid Batman in complex and dire situations that was seriously needed. The visuals and setting may have a dreary tone, but, yet again, they complement the scenery built on a twisted sense of morals that only served to build more chaos – a stark reminder that Batman’s war on crime is far from over.
The game Batman: Arkham City showcases great performances from the late Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill returning as the Joker, Grey Delisle as Catwoman, and Tara Strong’s first outing as Harley Quinn.
The flawless combat in the last instalment remains with new techniques to boot, instilling a sheer sense of empowerment in the player.
Even after over ten years, Batman: Arkham City stands out as a worthy follow-up to Arkham Asylum, and is a game that must be played by Batman fans, DC fans, and superhero fans alike.
- Rocksteady decided not to use the Batmobile in this game due to Arkham City’s rugged terrain and narrow streets.
- Tara Strong took up the role of Harley Quinn when Arleen Sorkin retired from voicing the character after DC Universe Online.
- Tara Strong is known for voicing other DC characters in various media, including Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl.
- During one of the unlockable interview sessions between Hugo Strange and the Joker, the Joker’s retelling of his origin story and dialogue is directly taken from Alan Moore’s critically acclaimed graphic novel, “Batman: The Killing Joke”.