Rocksteady, after reviving our hopes in superhero games with Arkham Asylum, have dreamt big: bringing the well established Dark Knight formula to open world. A task that first sounded too great even after everything the developer has given us in the first game. Fear not, they upped the ante.
Our favorite detective is forced to Arkham City occupied by thugs, gangsters, super-villains and Dr. Strange's guards. Initially we only know that he is after Strange who is preparing an experiment, which he calls "Protocol 10". The main plot of the game isn't the strongest we have ever experienced, but diverse enough to keep our heads spinning in every half hour or so. Even if Strange isn't the typical main villain you'd expect from a game like this, the others keep the show running. Boy, and how well. Joker, Two-Face, Penguin are only the most famous ones to recognize. Even the minor villains give splendid performances that will make you feel you're in an action packed DC comic book. Only this time around you're the one who beats up the bad guys. The ending of the game will keep you scratching your head and maybe this time - and this time only - Rocksteady took on more that they could bear...
The game has excellent graphical representation pushing the unreal engine to it's limits. The older engine sometimes shows it's limits with slowly loading textures and load screens in open areas. However, from artistic perspective it's breathtaking. You can read stories about the city or it's unwanted "residents", listen to crazy interviews taped by Strange with the greatest villains that will uncover some of their background stories and let us see what has happened before the place was opened. It's exactly this where the game comes to full circle, not just being a super enjoyable action-superhero game, but a true part of the Batman legacy. The music and voice acting are top notch. Listening to an well composed orchestral piece before hearing Mark Hamill's voice behind The Joker is true joy and no fan could ask for more in that respect.
The freeflow combat introduced in Arkham Asylum returns with an array of gadgets that can be deployed in combat. The combat is so well balanced that it will be easy for everybody to pick up, but very difficult to master as Batman has plenty of moves in his pocket. You can choose to hit or counter each enemy when you are attacked, but there will always be a second, third or eighth move to pull. It's a mechanic that will never get boring even after the 428th enemy. Of course the game will challenge you eventually with more powerful enemies that can't be put down with repeated hitting of one button.
After you are done with the main campaign, which takes about 10 hour to complete, there's literally a dozen thing to do in Arkham City. For one you can explore the story based side quests which are not only cleverly integrated in the game's main story but they are also highly addictive. Of course Riddler made his mark in this game too, so you can try to collect his collectibles of which there is more than 300. If you have done everything in Arkham City (takes around 20-30 hours) there is a game mode called Riddler's revenge which is essentially a task-based-clean-the-room mini-game. You are rewarded with medals based on your successes, but cleaning every room and hitting high score everywhere will take you at least that much as the main game. That adds up around 50+ hours of gameplay for 100% completion. Really the only thing worth of complain here is that when you do everything and I mean everything in Arkham City there isn't anything else to load your save game again. The streets are empty except for some thug groups always spawned in the same spots. Arkham City feels empty; a thing that can be noticed even in the heat of the first walkthrough.
Rating: 94/100; Replay Value: 4/5; To Beat: 8-10 hours (main campaign), 22-25 hours (campaign with collectibles); Played on: normal.
Posted: November 5th, 2013