'Batman: Arkham City' Is the Best Batman Game Ever [Review]
By Chris Sims
To say that Batman: Arkham City was one of this year’s most highly anticipated games is underselling things quite a bit. After all, its predecessor, 2009’s Arkham Asylum, holds the world record for being the most critically acclaimed game of all time, and with good reason. It translated one of the greatest super-heroes of all time, his most iconic villains and and a creepy, threatening setting into a solid adventure that put players in control of some genuinely thrilling action, and for the sequel, the developers at Rocksteady promised to top it in every way.
So when Arkham City was released last week, I was as excited about it as anyone else — maybe even moreso, since being able to take on the role of Batman as he just straight up wrecked crooks is pretty much everything I’ve wanted since I was six years old — and for the most part, it lived up to the hype. As a Batman video game, it’s an almost perfect gameplay experience. As a Batman story, though, well… it’s a great video game.
More than anything else, the structure of Arkham City reminded me of 2008’s Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, a game that managed to be incredibly fun despite the fatal flaw of just not being very good. Both games take a massive open-world city structure — Manhattan for Spider-Man and a pretty sizable chunk of Gotham for Arkham City — and then provide a storyline reason for filling it with a ton of enemies, a much smaller number of civilians that need saving, and absolutely no other authority that can do the job than your protagonist.
In Arkham City, the McGuffin du jour is that the events of Arkham Asylum have led the ruling class of Gotham City to build a gigantic super-prison by just straight up walling off fifty blocks of downtown real estate and putting Hugo Strange in charge of watching over it from a crazy hundred year-old steampunk Eiffel tower. It is, without question, one of the most monumentally ridiculous premises ever put on paper, especially when you consider that they just happened to pick a section of town that includes, among other set-piece friendly locales, a natural history museum, The Penguin’s nightclub, an abandoned amusement park, the chemical plant from the Joker’s origin, and THE ALLEY WHERE BATMAN’S PARENTS DIED.
Seriously: You can go to Crime Alley and the game gives you the option to press A to “PAY YOUR RESPECTS.” This actually happens, and it might be my favorite thing in any video game ever.
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