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Batman: Arkham City on Xbox 360

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Arkham Asylum was a shock; a good superhero game? Wow. Then the sequel, Arkham City, was announced; the hype was big. So, how do you follow up on a successful game? You play it safe. And that’s exactly what Rocksteady did in this open world follow up.
Arkham City is exactly that: a city. A much bigger map to play with than Arkham Asylum: A section of Gotham sealed off from the rest of the environment where every criminal from Arkham Asylum has been moved to. Sounds dangerous, right? To add even more fun to this devilish mixture, we’ve been given the pleasure of experiencing this first hand as newly appointed prison warden, Hugo Strange, drags Bruce Wayne into the loony bin. A dark and theatrical cut screen plays out with an up close with Strange before you manage to break free, only to be smashed over the head by one of his thugs. Once you come round to a few more hay-makers from an angry Penguin, you can get on your way by giving him a few in kind. After you get to grips with controls, your ever-faithful butler drops off your batsuit and you’re good to go kick some ass!
The main plot revolves around Strange’s secret plan and the Joker, but the number of side quests and other super villains packed into this game makes it a treat for comic book fans. With the likes of Dr. Freeze, Two Face, Penguin and a variety of others (which I’ll leave as a surprise) it really is a step up from Arkham Asylum. Other friendly faces such as Robin (Collector’s Edition) and Catwoman (DLC) are also available, with Miss Kyle having her own playable side missions.

The same gadgets and combat system from Asylum are present, each with their own upgrades, but Rocksteady employed the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, and it’s worked well, allowing you to pummel through henchmen in a flowing style that’s a pleasure to watch. The vast array of gadgets make it tricky to remember what buttons to press so blunders in freeflow combat can ruin your combo (as well as making you look like an idiot punching air), but that’s my only criticism of their tried and tested method.

Gotham City really is a treat, and this open world is the major advantage it has over it’s predecessor. Gadgets and gliding have been tweaked to make it easier to travel around the vast map, and with respawning thugs dotted around the prison, if Gotham is getting you down a fight is never too far away to take out your vented frustration. The backdrop is gloomy, eerie and completely Batman. Strange’s announcements echo through the twilight of Gotham as you swoop from guard houses and towers, making it hard to imagine any other setting for the ‘Vigilante of the Night’.

The dark backdrop of Gotham is spotted with Riddler trophies once again, with The Riddler’s own variety of optional puzzles and challenge maps but you needn’t have played Arkham Asylum to fully enjoy this sequel. As well as The Riddler, there are a number of side quests featuring old favorites such as Bane and Victor Zsasz which I would encourage you to follow up on, as half the fun of this campaign comes from getting distracted from the main storyline and plunging into the secrets that are just waiting to be explored. Alas, it’s not all ideal in Gotham.

Once you get dragged kicking and screaming back to the main storyline, the relaxed pace of the side quests seems like a world away. Skipping in between all the missions felt rushed and every villain needed to be given a little extra depth, a little more time and little more effort.I was left feeling a little disappointed that all these appearances were just to entice us with promises that were left broken. Despite this, the main storyline was impressive (although indulging in the side quests was a lot more fun!) and maybe Rocksteady heard my angry complaints about their stupid genetically altered super-Joker in their first game, as this time round their climax is a little more sophisticated, but I will say no more than that.

Not only do you have the main story, the side quests and the challenges, there’s also Catwoman’s storyline, although this seemed intrusive on the main missions, and genuinely annoying at certain points so in my opinion it ruined the cohesive plot they had going. But it’s optional! My advice would be to simply wait until the campaign is complete and do the missions separately so your campaign experience is cat-free and purely bat-tastic.

Rocksteady have made an obvious choice to get Arkham City on the shelves before the Christmas competition begins because, although I thoroughly enjoyed the game and I’m sure the majority will, it will never compete with the giants of the industry. As this is a very rare blend of great gameplay and famous superhero, it will always stand head and shoulders above that category of it’s competition, but in the wider market, it’s simply to keep us occupied before the likes of Call of Duty and Skyrim take us by storm.



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