So, even though this game came out several weeks ago, I just finished all the missions and Riddler trophies this week so I figure I’ll rate it now. This game is great but it isn’t perfect. My goodness people, we throw out perfect game ratings as if they are easy to achieve. I think think a perfect game rating should not be given out unless a game is ACTUALLY perfect. AKA, story, gameplay, graphics, music, replay value etc, are all flawless. This game, for its genre, is very very good. I mean, its close to perfect. But I still have a couple of complaints. That means in my eyes, it isn’t perfect. We have to be a little more stingy with our perfect game ratings people. THAT BEING SAID, lets look at this game
The story behind this game is that an old Batman villain named Dr. Strange, has captured Bruce Wayne and, GASP, he knows that you are Batman! Dr. Strange has somehow gained an obscene amount of power within Gotham and he has convinced the Mayor to close off part of the city and make it a prison area. Batman has to find out what Dr. Strange is up to and stop him. This is a pretty typical sounding comic book story, but it works. It has a lot of twists and turns and incorporates a lot of the staple Batman bad guys. I like that. My complaint though, is the side quest stories. Some of them are actually pretty well thought out. Others though, are totally lame and seem to be crammed into the game at the last second. They have almost no story development of their own, so you really don’t care to do them. I would have rather there been fewer side stories if it would mean that the remaining were going to be more developed.
A good example of good side-story writing is the Phone Booth Killer: Zsasz. This crazy guy keeps calling you on phones and you have to rush to another phone before time runs out or he will kill a hostage. When you get to the other phone, you have to listen to this guy rant about his life while you triangulate where he is calling from. I liked this because you get more depth from the character. You know how crazy he is and why he does what he does. The game doesn’t assume that you know anything about Zsasz. You can read a small blurb about each character when you run into them, through the menu, but this is such a dry way of explaining a character. You have absolutely no connection with them through this process
A good example of BAD side-story writing is the whole Catwoman side story. The Catwoman extra content added absolutely nothing to the story and just hindered the pacing of the main story. At no point, did I care about Catwoman’s story. Whenever I had to be her I felt it took me away from where I actually wanted to be. She also took away from gameplay but I will get into that later. Catwoman’s story arch was just a way of getting people to spend more money on the game by buying it new (which includes a code for the DLC), or buying the DLC later. A more tasteful way of handling Catwoman’s DLC would have been to have it already contained in the game, not requiring a DLC, OR making it a worthwhile DLC. It totally wasn’t worthwhile. I did not gain any more enjoyment out of the game because of Catwoman. She was just fluff to the story and the gameplay.
So, I give the story a 4 out of 5. The main story was entertaining and gave comic book fans what they would like. However, fluff side-stories, and the crappy Catwoman DLC, hindered what could have been a perfect comic book game story.
Gameplay is a sticky subject in games. Each genre of game has a different expectation. For instance, an RPG with slightly slower gameplay mechanics is usually OK because RPGs are way more story driven and rely less on action packed gameplay (not to say that the gameplay can get away with not being fun). An action game on the other hand, needs to be just that. It must have action and speed to it. An action game can not have the same gameplay as a turned based RPG would have for instance.
That being said, Batman: Arkham City has great gameplay mechanics. They are fluid and fair. I say fair, because unlike SOME games, it never feels as if the game is “cheating” you. Enemies stick to the laws of the game and if you are able to pick up on these laws, you can truly master the combat system. That is this game’s strong-suit. Batman fluidly hops from enemy to enemy, delivering devastating blows over and over again (That’s what she said). You really gain a sense of accomplishment as you chain multiple combos together. A skilled player makes it look all to easy as they wipe out an entire clusters of enemies. It is a skill that is easy to learn but hard to master. That is what makes the combat system so much fun. It is just challenging enough to give a player enjoyment from each battle. I enjoyed just running around Arkham City and starting fights for no reason. The combat tools really add to the combat as well. Taking on a group of enemies that have weapons is vastly different than taking on a group without them. Your gadgets really evens the playing field in these fights. One great little thing that I almost forgot to mention is that your surroundings can effect how Batman interacts with bad guys. For instance, if you want to interrogate someone and you happen to be by a ledge, he might hold the guy over the ledge. Or lets say you knocked a guy down, you might interrogate him by putting your foot on his face. This game has lots of little touches like that which adds to the overall fun.
So picture yourself having a great time playing as Batman, with your gadgets, strength and resilience. Now picture yourself suddenly having that all taken away from you as you are forced to play as Catwoman. Playing as Catwoman blows. Sure she is faster. But she is also weaker and doesn’t have half as many cool gadgets. Her gameplay mechanics aren’t different enough to make her unique to play as so playing as her adds nothing to the game. I felt like I was being punished for doing nothing wrong every time as I played as Catwoman. Honestly, the game would have been way better if I hadn’t added the DLC. Only problem is, YOU CAN’T GET ALL THE RIDDLER TROPHIES WITHOUT HER UGGHHH.
This is another place where Arkham City falls short. I am all for sidequests. I love them as much as the next guy. But, when the sidequest are just repetitive fetching quests, why have them? Why have 440 Riddler trophies when half of them are just repeats of the other half? I spent way too many hours getting all those trophies just to say I did it and to see what happens. I’ll tell you right now, NOTHING HAPPENS. I think I didn’t even get a PS3 game trophy for it. However, even if I had, I’d still be pissed because nothing in the actual game occurred. Batman didn’t even say something to Oracle like, “Hey Oracle, I got all the Riddler trophies”. Nothing in the game acknowledges that you completed this feat. Actually, to beat the Riddler sidequest, you don’t even need to find all the trophies, making finding them all absolutely pointless. I’m sorry, but bragging rights isn’t enough of a payoff for finding all those stupid trophies. They could have at least unlocked a new outfit or code or SOMETHING. Anything would have been better than nothing.
All complaints aside, the gameplay was actually pretty excellent. This game has a high replay value thanks to the game+ mode. Ah game+ mode, why aren’t you in all games? Game+ allows you to play through the game again with all your skills, and gadgets, but against tougher enemies and without being alerted when to counterattack. I really hate playing through games on hard mode usually because I don’t see the point. But when you are actually given all your equipment to use from the beginning, now you have given me incentive to play through again. Also, if you collected the Riddler trophies on the first play through, you do not have to get them over again on the second! Good show!
So overall, I give Batman: Arkham City a rating of 4 out of 5 for gameplay. Honestly, this is where people need to be WAY more stingy about giving out perfect scores. Having a game with perfect game play is next to impossible. Arkham City does an excellent job trying though. This game lacks bugs and clearly has been polished. If it weren’t for Catwoman, and some repetitive/ lame, poorly thought out sidequests, I think this game could have been as close to perfect as a game could get.
Batman: Arkham City has great sound, great voice acting, and great music (not that I was really paying attention to it). All the original voice actors are back. I am not sure, but I think that the bad side of two face was voiced by the cartoon voice actor. If not, it sounded just like him. Me likey. This is unfortunately Mark Hamill’s last horrah as the voice of the Joker. I don’t know why he has decided to stop doing the voice because he is just so damn good at it. Anywho the sound effects and all that jazz are great yadda yadda yadda
I give the sound to Batman: Arkham City a 5 out of 5. Really, that isn’t a big deal though. How much weight does sound really have on the overall experience really? I mean, terrible sound can ruin a game, but not half as much as terrible gameplay would. Still, I am glad that they really did a good job on the sound.
This game has great graphics. Really, to me it feels like talking about graphics nowadays is almost moot since ALL games have great graphics. I’m just glad that things have more than 8 colors and don’t lag when there are more than three moving things on the screen. HOW FAR WE’VE COME. Really though, this game meets all expectations for today’s graphics. I never saw any slowdown while playing this game. There were no clipping problems and the camera worked great. Sometimes while fighting in certain enclosed spaces it could be hard to see the action, but this happens so rarely that I wouldn’t consider it a flaw. Much like the last game, as you go along, Batman’s suit becomes more and more battle damaged. It looks pretty cool. By the end you wonder how his cape even allows you to glide anymore.
Honestly, are graphics even a selling point for games anymore? I am really interested to see what the next generation of games will look like because I feel like we have gotten to the point where the only thing we can do is just have higher resolution (this game plays at 1080p). I guess we will eventually see more and more detailed backgrounds and have more interactive surroundings in the future, but I really don’t crave that stuff.
So I give Batman: Arkham City’s graphics a 5 out of 5. Games really have no excuse to not get a 5 out of 5 in this day and age though.
Batman: Arkham City is a really great game. It is NOT perfect, but it is great. I think any person who loves action games, and even those who don’t, should probably give this game a shot though. This game would definitely be something a game developer should aspire to create. It shouldn’t be touted as perfect though. THAT REALLY GRINDS MY GEARS.