* Best Action Game of 2011 * Best D/L Content 2011 (Catwoman)

Rocksteady does the impossible by creating another "Best Comic Book Game" to follow-up their last "Best Comic Book Game." Expanded, improved and flawlessly executed, 'Batman: Arkham City' is exactly what we wanted and then some.

Breaking free of the confined halls of the Asylum, Batman is put into a expansive sectioned off division of Gotham City that is simply tagged Arkham City. Arkham City is an anarchy infused playground seethed with the most black-hearted forms of humanity. Free-to-run ramped in this asylum turned city, Batman (starting as Bruce Wayne) finds himself baited by 'Hugo Strange,' who takes on the role of Batman's main antagonist. Trapped, Batman and an unlikely villain fight for their lives while exposing the industrious plot of 'Protocol 10.' While stopping Hugo is Batman's main goal, Arkham City entices several other criminal masterminds to its housewarming. Ironically this rouses a turf war among the Penguin, Two-Face and the Joker as they each fight for top spot. Embracing the chaos, Batman finds himself busy dealing with Hugo and several villains from his past. The objectives are many, crisscrossing all over the map while shifting between miscreants. Although we have seen most of these characters in Rocksteady's last adventure, they still feel fresh when put behind the lawlessness walls of Arkham City.

Batman isn't just about the villains either. You will also get to interact with some friendly faces like Robin, Catwoman (more on her later,) and other improbable alleys that side with you under the pressing circumstances. Without spoiling too much, Arkham City is filled to the brim with comic-book love. Not only is Arkham City a great "comic book game," but it's a great action game that will please anyone looking for a deep and layered tale. Arkham City might not have the close-quarters suspense of Arkham Asylum, but all together Rocksteady tells a bigger and more interesting tale.

Within the walls of Arkham
The narrative is richly layered and the new surrounding inherits a sandbox feel. While you will still be confined into a certain area via massive blockades, having a semi-open city is more liberating than being in the Asylum. In the open Batman is unrestricted to unleash his special branding of vigilante justice. For the size, Arkham City isn't overly vast, but it makes up for its lack of size by filling ever inch of the landscape with personality. I found Arkham City to be comparable to a major city in Assassin's Creed (expect make it dingy and fill it with murder friendly maniacs.) Additonally the level of detail captured is staggering. Not only does the expanded city have as much, if not more detail then the Aslyum, it is more ambitious with diversified properties. Even though Arkham falls back on reusing the same locations over multiple missions, they still felt interesting. Arkham City just feels right.

Before the bat, you get the cat
Following Bat is the DLC activated Cat, who is provided when you purchase the game. Selina Kyle aka Catwoman has four mini-chapters interwoven with the Dark Knights' tale. While her mission-based contributions could have been enlarged, Rocksteady makes up for it by giving her the ability to free roam Arkham City. Like Batman, Catwoman is flawlessly designed, capturing the very essence of her disposition. The quicker of the two, Selina uses her uncanny gymnastic skills to vault and scratch her way on the rooftops. Not only does Catwoman provide a nice change of pace, but she has the same care that Batman received. This includes an upgradable skill tree, her own Riddler trophies and side-objectives. Catwoman truly showcases Rocksteady's ability to handle multiple controlled characters. I just wish there was more.

Under the cowl we find a few new tricks
The gameplay in Arkham City is very much the same beast constructed for the Aslyum. A few sections have been refined, mainly the combat that now allows you to use weapons within your combos. The "Freeflow" combat system is on the top of its game, spotlighting smooth animations and environment awareness. Again the "Detective mode" returns slightly modified to be more of what it name implies, a detective. Gadgets and upgrades are two more elements that complete the gameplay, and like everything else they have been enriched. Instead of the slow unlocking progression in Arkham Asylum, you start with a good number of toys with the choice of what to unlock next. Arkham City is spot on, filled with everything Batman will need to truimph over evil. For a modern action/beat em' up, you can't get better than this.

Building a better Madhouse
Having Arkham broadened into a city while keeping it enclosed permits Batman to interact with several characters within a short time. Rocksteady has an ample amount of surprises along with several nooks-and-crannies to discover. Like Asylum, Arkham is full of DC goodness. The Riddler makes a return with an assortment of trophies and challenge rooms to complete/snatch. While the Riddler might be the biggest ingredient to the side-quests, several other characters will be disturbing the Bat's free time. Helping Bane in a “Fragile Alliance” or tracking down a Zsasz through a series of city-wide phone chases are just two of your optional side-quests within Arkham City.

The side-quests will keep you busy as you objectively traverse Arkham. It's astounding how addictive these aspects can be, and you might be so absorbed in finding little green question marks that you forget all about foiling Stranges' plan. Not to worry because Arkham can be explored and played at your own pace. This gives the game a more organic feel that lends itself to Batman's methodical means. This goes for the combat as well. Usually there are several ways to takedown a given group of foes from sneak attacks to all out brawls. Like we learned in his first hunting ground, Batman is more effective when striking from the shadows then heading straight into a gunfight. Even with Batman's extra ordinary abilities he isn't invincible so it's wise to use some caution.

One more challenge before you go
Outside the main campaign you can head into the Riddler Challenges that include leaderboard support and are broken down into three sections; Ranked Challenges (12 combat maps, 12 predator maps, for a total of 72 medals.) Campaigns (Gauntlet of Challenges) and Custom Challenges (ranked challenges with Modifiers.) Along with this you can replay each Catwoman Episode, unlock new art and character models and enjoy replaying Arkham City with increased enemy difficulty via the 'New Game +' feature. Rocksteady certainly didn't skimp out when it comes to content.

Escaping the halls of the Asylum, Rocksteady does the impossible by creating an even better Batman experience. Unparalleled in its representation of the Bat, Batman: Arkham City is a pedigree of gaming making and content adaption that no Batman fan should be without. Now if they could only help out Aquaman... actually who am I kidding, no one can help Aquaman.

  • It's true, Arkham City is even better than Asylum
  • I'm in love with a Cat. Catwoman is flawlessly designed
  • Storytelling at its best, this is A+ comic-book material
  • Arkham City size and scope is perfect
  • Highly detailed game, from the graphics to the DC lore
  • Lots of unlockables, side-quests, and challenge maps to keep you busy
  • New game + supported
  • Clever level design with a superb eye for detail
  • Rewarding, quick paced combat
  • No Bat and Cat co-op multiplayer
  • Reuses the same locations over multiple objectives
Quote: "Unparalleled in its representation of the Bat, Batman: Arkham City is a pedigree of gaming making and content adaption that no Batman fan should be without."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 10.27.11

Similar Games: Batman: The Brave and the Bold (8.0) | Batman: Arkham Asylum (9.5)


Arkham City




US Release
October '11


PS3, X360

Players 1
5.1 Surround
HD 720-1080p
D/L Content
3D Support