First Impressions: ‘Batman: Arkham City’ the Video Game

 

With a notorious history of comic book based video games mostly being sub-par, when Batman: Arkham Asylum hit the shelves in August of 2009 it was a surprise hit. It was the first video game to really make it feel like you were the dark knight as you jumped from building to building, utilizing useful gadgets and having run ins with familiar but re-realized villains. With a storyline that rivaled most comic books, an incredible graphic engine, an open ended world and a great soundtrack, it was a really fantastic game to play. Personally, I spent hours riveted to the screen, indents of Xbox controller in my hand, fulfilling every deep seeded fantasy I had of being Bruce Wayne (and thusly a man? Maybe I should think about that a little more…)

Recently (and by recently I mean this previous weekend) I had the pleasure of attending PAX Prime here in Seattle, WA. PAX is the “it” convention of video games, a huge and sprawling open-to-the-public preview of indie games and huge games alike. Most companies go all out with epic booths, tons of swag, rows of screens for previewing, cosplayers, and booth babes. Lines stretch through the sprawling convention center as hopeful players shift from foot to foot, waiting for their chance to preview x game that they are salivating wildly over.

 

I spent the majority of the convention hunting swag and stalking cosplayers (as I am known to do), but there were a couple of video games that made me bounce up and down like a hyper puppy, squealing as I waited my turn at the screens. Amidst all of the weirdo Japanese RPGS that I play I found myself at the Batman: Arkham City booth, which was huge and had amazing advertising happening. A Harley Quinn or two lurked around, luring me in, and I utilized my “media” badge to pounce on the nearest available console.

First impression? FREAKIN’ AWESOME.

But allow me to elaborate.

You actually begin the preview as Catwoman, which made me really excited since, well, ya know… it’s CATWOMAN. Already the graphics were somehow better, the engine smoother, and the controls more streamlined. I could already feel excitement welling up inside of me like a schoolgirl who just met her teen idol. As I utilized Catwoman’s whip and badassery, the demo guided me through a series of tasks that perfectly showed off the games dynamic gameplay mechanics and demonstrated that the battle system somehow got better. The battle system was one of my favourite aspects of Batman: Arkham Asylum, as it was very streamlined and had combat that was genuinely FUN, really putting to use the open world of the game. Arkham City has the same signature combat with a smoother game engine, which can only be described by this: AWWWRIGHT.

As you play through as Catwoman, she manages to get herself captured by Two Face. This finally gave me what I was looking for: Complete control over Batman. Unf.

Ahem.

This game is INCREDIBLY expansive which really gives you the feel of Batman’s character – you are able to leap, fly, and climb up most buildings as you see fit. There are no “invisible walls” to worry about and you can find interaction in a lot of things in the game. It definitely embodies the feeling of being Bruce Wayne, so as you make your way to the courthouse where Catwoman is being held captive it’s a bit like playing pretend when you’re a kid. Hehehehehe, I’m Batman!

Enter courthouse, do battle, acquire Catwoman (after saving her from a sniper shot to the head). This is where the game’s Nancy Drew esque sleuthing comes into play, as you have to trace the trail of the bullet back to its source to reap UTTER AND SWEET VENGEANCE. This is where the demo ended, but not before showing me that this game’s “detective mode” has considerable differences from Arkham Asylum‘s. If you played the first game you know that one of the biggest complaints people had about it was when one utilized detective mode – it didn’t really take full advantage of the game’s epic graphics. Arkham City has really tweaked it to be better, making it not as necessary and more of a tool instead of a main staple.

From what I saw, Arkham City is the sequel Batman, comic book, and video game fans everywhere have been waiting for. It built off of an already sound basis and made things even better. It has more playable characters, better graphics, a new awesome storyline, and more dynamic gameplay. I, for one, will be waiting eagerly for its release this fall.

 


Molly McIsaac is in a polyamorous relationship with comic books and video games. Sometimes one becomes jealous of the other and they have an epic battle, which Molly then tweets about. Follow her on twitter for all of the high drama.

Comments

  1. I’m in.

  2. I played the 15 minute demo they had at Fan Expo last weekend, I also think it’s going to be awesome. The graphics look better than the first game, too. Batman now has smoke pellets to throw down, it’s awesome.

  3. I’m so in I think I’ve drowned in it. I think I’ll replay Arkham Asylum soon in preparation.

  4. God dammit, I’m gonna have to get a this-gen system now, aren’t I?

    Worth it.

  5. i’m in, just need to find the time to play!

  6. Just started replaying AA, to get in the mood. Sounds Bat-tastic!

  7. dublindarling (@dublindarling27) says:

    My brother is going to be so mad at me. Consider the xbox HOGGED.

  8. Normally I’d just order this from Amazon but I’m really considering pre-ordering it from Best Buy to get Robin as a playable character. Either way, I’m getting this game and saying goodbye to any free time for quite a while.

  9. I am all over this game. Can’t wait!

  10. This game needs to hurry up and come out already

  11. I absolutely cannot wait for this game. Arkham Asylum was the best comic book game I’ve ever played.

  12. And how was I not aware of this convention being in Seattle?!

    Thanks for the insight, Molly.

  13. The preview from E3 really got me stoked for this game.

    The gameplay looks much better (a rare moment of a developer actually improving on every facet of the first game), the graphics are amazing, and the voice acting is pretty damn good. The script feels a bit cheesy, especially the Catwoman scenes, which is surprising cause Paul Dini is usually good at balancing cheesy moments with serious moments. (Here though it’s like watching the 60s Batman with her)

    Overall I’ve played Arkham Asylum a million times, this time I’ll be playing Arkham City a billion times.

  14. So excited for this game. And I really want to play the entire thing in the Dark Knight Returns skin! 🙂

  15. I want that 70s Batman skin/costume, so I’ll probably end up pre-ordering mine from Toys R Us of all places.