The joys of Arkham City

“Batman: Arkham City”
Developed by Rocksteady Studios
Rated “T”

EDIT: I am 100 percent done with the game, and have completed all achievements. I could add to this all day because of all the daily traffic, but there is so much to cover. So if you need specific help, I’d be happy to help.

StorylineIt’s going to be tough for Christopher Nolan to top this. Right from the start, there is a twist. There’s a bunch of twists in the middle. And, surprise, then there’s a twist at the end. Most of the bad guys intertwine so they aren’t forced onto you randomly. Batman was pushed to the brink mentally and physically, but that’s how we get to see him as a character.

The ending sequence and credits were so bone-chilling and shocking, I was legitimately freaked out. Don’t skip the credits until you hear the secret message. It’s not important, it’s just a really creepy spin on the game’s conclusion.

Gameplay– You can’t drive the Batmobile through the streets, but who cares. The grappling hook/ cape-glide combo is efficient and cool. There is a training session you can go through called Augmented Reality, and when you finish the first four levels, you get an upgrade that lets you continuously zip and glide through Arkham City without touching the ground. It’s open and free with optional missions, just like Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed.

-The fighting is revamped, with more combos. It’s a lot like the first game, only with a bigger assortment of moves. Thugs come at you in drones and it’s a delight to oblige their need to fight. Sometimes, the amount of villains can actually be overwhelming. There was a part in the game where a dozen snipers were on various rooftops and I had to stop and comeback because I didn’t have the energy to deal with them. The dudes with guns are a lot more difficult to deal with, but you have more gadgets, too.

-Catwoman and Batman’s stories connect well with each other and their moves compliment one another. Batman is powerful, Catwoman is finesse and freaking fast. After you beat the game, there are areas where you can change characters whenever you wish.

-Batman’s interaction with Robin in the game was hysterical. I think Batman was in the wrong, so I have little sympathy for what happened to him throughout the game. And whoever thought of giving the Boy Wonder that hooded cape deserves a special section in the credits.
In Arkham Asylum, the last achievement I earned was the 40x combo. Arkham City’s combo achievement is a 50x combo, so it looked impossible. I did it with Robin the second time I used him in the challenge maps. He attacks with his staff, which feels clunky but powerful. His little traps and bombs are a nice touch. Too bad you can’t roam Arkham City with him.

Villains– I’ll just break down some of the noteworthy villains. This game let you beat most of them with your fists, which was a nice touch:

-Penguin: He thinks he’s Mr. Freeze at one point. Dumb bird. You get to physically beat his face in, so that’s nice.

-Mr. Freeze: Scariest boss battle in the game. It’s like a slasher horror movie, with ice. I’d be surprised if you could beat this boss without consulting a walkthrough if you aren’t an experienced player. It took me a couple tries before I realized what to do.

-Zsasz: Annoying. He calls you on payphones throughout the city then you have to find another ringing phone and track his location. It happens through the entire game and it really disrupts your current mission. I now hate the sound of ringing phones because of this. At least it’s just a side mission.

-Ra’s Al Ghul: My favorite boss battle in the game. It’s got quite a bit of fantasy for a Batman fight. Ghul has an interesting role in the game, so keep playing to find out.

-Deadshot: For a side mission, this one was pretty cool. You find people who were shot, search for clues and use forensic evidence to find him.

-Two-Face: Batman has little interaction with him, it’s mostly a Catwoman thing. Technically, he is the last boss in the regular story-line. His thugs all have rubber two-face masks, which is a little excessive.

-The Mad Hatter: Worthless. A lame version of Scarecrow from the first game.

-Solomon Grundy: Gotta appreciate his will to not go down, but he has a gruesome death.

-Clayface: Not that easy to beat, surprisingly. You get to use a sword against him though.

-Hugo Strange: Can’t say much because of spoilers, but he wasn’t as cool as he thought he was.

-Joker: He gives you a phone at the beginning of the game and communicates with you by leaving you voicemails. A nice touch, but he just never quits. As always, the Joker puts Batman through the greatest of challenges, and this one is a doozy.

EDITCalendar Man: He is mumbling to himself in the basement of the courthouse. When I talked to him, he said to come back on Halloween. I came back and he told me a story about something the Joker once did. He sat back down and told me to come back on Thanksgiving. Not sure what his purpose is.

EDIT -Hush: He’s the one behind the Stolen Identity side mission. If you want to know anything about Hush, look at how bad-A he was in this Batman Beyond comic series from 2010.

The RiddlerHe deserves his own section because he is by far the hardest guy to pin down in the game. I can already tell, after I do everything I need to do in the game, there will still be 150 or so Riddles that have to be solved. Some are darn near impossible and I have no clue even how to begin to solve them.

EDIT- I’m not 100 percent sure on this yet, but Riddler Informants might respawn with the rest of the thugs. You can’t rid the city of villains like you could in Arkham Asylum, so there is a chance if you get rid of an informant, you can get the clue back at some other point. Just keep interrogating until you can’t see green anymore and hopefully you will have all of the clues revealed.

In battles, you will see a guy glowing green and you need to save him for last. Once you’re alone with him, you can interrogate him and he will reveal Riddles on the map, just like the Riddler Map in Arkham Asylum. If you accidentally defeat him, I just restart from the checkpoint. The Riddles are hard enough to solve, let alone finding them. The informants are that important.
Also, some of the Riddler Challenges are like the “Saw” movies, saving people from getting buzz-sawed by solving traps. It really is a puzzle gamer’s dream. Eventually, I’m sure I’ll get to him, but I really want to beat his face in. He is probably the best villain in the game since his presence is so ubiquitous.

Roaming the streets of Arkham City is the true Batman and superhero experience. There are few drawbacks (some tasks are really hard to figure out, it’s difficult to get a good free-flow going with stronger bad guys, and other minor things here and there). It can be overwhelming at times, but you can take time to explore all the areas and master the city at your own pace. Arkham City is beautiful in every way and with numerous amounts of downloadable content on the way, it stands on its own as the pinnacle of gaming achievement.

And has anyone else found that mysterious guardian figure? Looks like it could be Azreal, which would be just compound the brilliance. EDITIt friggin’ was Azreal.

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