The second outing of this batman and it’s still good. Arkham Asylum has been closed down since the first game, and in its place is an entire prison city, filled with treachery, secrets and lots of Batman’s well known villains.
You spend your entire time within Arkham City, a sandbox cityscape where it always seems to be night. The city itself, as you would expect of Gotham, is dark and festooned with Gargoyles and decrepit buildings. In a lot of ways it is comparable to Prototype, but the atmosphere is created very well in Arkham City. There are a number of interior environments as well, and these also have the dark and collapsing feel about them, that surely comes from years of neglect and then a large number of convicts and psychopaths moving in!
The combat is very fluid, similar to the first game but they have smoothed it out a little. Batman darts across the battlefield, quickfiring gadgets in the middle of combat of which he has many. I still often find the combat very hard to master, as it will often require a high level of dexterity, concentration and knowledge of all his available moves to get the really high combo’s you need (particularly for the Riddler Combat Challenges).
Everyone knows a few of Batman’s enemies and the most famous can be found in Arkham City. Here you will find the Joker, Harley Quin, Ra’s al Ghul, the Riddler, the Penguin, Two-Face, Bane, Poison Ivy and Mr Freeze, as well as the Mad Hatter, Zsasz, Deadshot, Hush and a Mysterious Stranger, the last two of which seem to be earmarked for the next game. All of these villains are very well brought to life and you get a real feel for the characters, and of course the shear amount of them is extremely gratifying.
New Game+ is Arkham City’s hard mode, and interestingly it is carried out separately from the normal game, so you can play through to different points on both games. New Game+ is indeed harder, but being used to the environment, combat and storyline I didn’t find it too hard. It also helps that you start with all the unlocked gadgets and special moves from your first playthrough.
The other thing that is carried across both games is the Riddler trophies you have found, hundreds of little green trophies hidden across Arkham City by the Riddler, each one almost always requiring certain gadgets or acrobat skills to reach them. Batman would of course not care normally, but the Riddler has captured hostages and will only reveal their locations when you find a certain amount of the trophies.
Yes there is even more. With the Catwoman DLC you receive an extra four missions for Catwoman. These are quite fun to do, but her poor gadgets and inability to fly will have you waiting for Batman to come back, although she does have some cool predator moves and can climb on the ceiling.
Harley Quin’s Revenge is the main DLC, continuing on from the main story. It’s not particularly long but you get to play as Robin, again with his own particularly gadgets and fighting moves. It’s a nice little addition to polish off the story but it won’t keep you busy for long.
The Riddler Challenges are extensive and they comprise Combat Challenges, Predator Challenges and a three of them combined. The Predator Challenges involve silently taking down a number of enemies in a room, with three awards for completing sub-objections and I thoroughly enjoy them. The Combat Challenges involved four rounds of combat with awards for hitting certain point values, I find these much harder, as to get the scores you really need to complete the round in a single combo without being hit, something that is quite difficult to achieve. This in turn makes the campaigns combining them harder as well, tricky indeed.
This is a very good game; the characters, villains and plot are all pretty good. The gadgets are fun to use and the sandbox world is atmospheric and fun to try and seek out all the Riddler Trophies. There is so much to do and complete in this game that it will be quite a time sink, particularly if you plan to master the combat. Definitely one to buy.