Space Ramblings

Arkham City game review

It’s hard work being Batman and Arkham City is one of the few Batman games to get that right. Superman can just power through obstacles, but Batman has to study the enemy and use strategy to gain an advantage over superior numbers and firepower. You can, on occasion, punch and kick your way through a mob, but more often you have to find a vantage point, hide, and use some of your belt of your tricks to take them down.

That’s what makes Arkham City interesting, but after a while it’s also what makes it tedious. Grinding through a mob is at least fun, dancing between gargoyles and trying to take out every thug, one by one, knowing that if a single thing goes wrong, you’re going to be replaying this room, isn’t all that much fun and after doing it for the twentieth time, it isn’t that interesting.

Arkham City is at its best when you’re soaring between the rooftops in a city gone mad, springing to the occasional rescue. And while the stray missions, like tracking down containers for Bane, aren’t that interesting, the main story, with a cockney accented Penguin as a villain psychotic enough to upstage Joker, works more often than not. There are weaker diversions than others. Not only are you tasked with the dubious challenge of saving Arkham’s inmates before Hugo Strange kills them, there’s an entire Bioshock middle section with an abandoned city of the future, a mysterious energy fluid and a hallucinogenic quest to succeed Ra’s Al Ghul by fighting his giant head that come off silly. But mostly the game’s only weakness is its console roots, the bosses that have to be fought by hitting them with the same attacks over and over again, while they fill the field with explosions and stomp you and the handholding instructions.

Arkham City’s story breaks no new ground. Batman once again driven to the point of wondering whether he shouldn’t kill the Joker. The voice acting is good enough, so is the writing, though it makes it seem as if Batman’s allies are obnoxious and controlling, Alfred in particular is more annoying than all the supervillains put together. The climax tries too hard and it doesn’t seem likely that Batman would carry out Joker’s body to the cops, rather than Talia’s, unless the game is going for a gay subtext, but no one is playing this for the story. Just the thrill of launching a line and soaring above a mad art deco Gotham of skyscrapers, penthouse verandas, dirty alleys and crime in the streets.

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