For starters, I played a lot of Arkham Asylum. For me, it was a perfect game. The environment was lush and well designed. It felt like a true Batman world, even with the odd implementation of the Batcave. The villains were of equal importance to Batman, just as they should be. This was apparent in the care that Rocksteady Studios put into the writing and voice acting. The puzzle-solving was extremely enjoyable. It wasn’t too hard and wasn’t too easy. Then there’s the flowing combat system that Arkham Asylum employed. I could watch those leg breaking animations forever.
Rocksteady Studios’ title was probably the most fun I’ve ever had getting a 100% in a game. No, dammit. It was the most fun I’ve ever had fully completing a game. I eagerly spent half of my game time playing through those combat challenges and looking for hidden question marks.
Take gadgets, for example. Arkham Asylum limited your starting gadgets in order to ease you into the game. As you progressed in Batman awesomeness, the game afforded you access to explosive gel, the Batclaw and some other goodies. Batman: Arkham City starts you off with a stable of gadgets that you add onto as you wreck face and get further along in the story. The Batman in Arkham City shouldn’t feel weaker than he was at the end of the last game (at least gadget-wise). You’ll likely still have to level up your combo skills but that’s fun anyway.
There’s a New Game Plus feature for those looking for a new set of challenges. Rocksteady has said that we’ll have the technical upper hand, though New Game Plus will do away with the counterattack icon and will introduce tougher enemies earlier rather than later. I’m up for all of that as long as I get to keep my shotgun Batarang upgrade.
Arkham City will have a huge amount of villains. Each as part of the main story or as an extensive side quest meant to happily distract you from the main event. I say happily because as much as I want to thwart Hugo Strange’s plans for Gotham domination, I really want to find out how Mr. Freeze and the Riddler are tangentially tied into everything.
I’m especially glad that we’ll be hearing Mark Hamill’s Joker again alongside Kevin Conroy’s Batman. Those voices are classic.
Bane also makes a return but this time as Batman’s ally. This is a good choice considering Bane has been known to be a conflicted villain in the Batman universe.
Penguin and Solomon Grundy will be making a debut as well alongside Catwoman, Robin, the return of Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter, Nightwing, Victor Zsasz, Jack Ryder, Two- Face, Talia al Ghul, Alfred, Calendar Man, and Deadshot. We can probably expect more surprises in this already huge game.
As I’ve said before, I easily sat down for long amounts of time just to beat my scores and times in Arkham Asylum’s Challenge Mode. I seriously spent hours resetting my challenges in order to get the highest possible scores. My fist-to-face choreography had to be perfect while my vaults and counterattacks had to be in sync with the bad guys.
The Challenge Mode makes a triumphant return along with other playable characters aside from just the various Batman skins. Catwoman and Robin will play differently from the big guy, Catwoman with her lithe form and the Boy Wonder with his bo staff.
Catwoman’s moves are impressive in their own right. The way she scales buildings reminds me of a hyper charged Spider-man. Robin’s gameplay, from videos I’ve seen, looks like a good mix up between acrobatic stunts and the crushing blows that Batman has.
Time will tell if Joker will be playable in later DLC. I wasn’t a fan but perhaps some were.
The first game did well without being open world. It was linear and had space for a lot of backtracking, yet it didn’t get old. Every revisit to an area had it changed in some way. Ivy’s arc twisted Arkham and opened a lot of new paths. Upgrading gadgets also allowed for access to new places.
Back to the matter at hand; will Batman work in a larger open setting? It’s a new direction and provides for a couple chances for mistakes. Open world games in general have this instanced feel that makes the separate sections feel.. well, separate.
A lot of signs point to yes. Early reviews and impressions have said that the broad scope works and the game just feels like a more open version of the first game. The new grapple-glide mechanic has been getting positive reviews as well.
As for my open world hesitation. Well, I suppose that I just had to find something that might go wrong. Batman: Arkham City looks suspiciously perfect.
Rocksteady has a real winner here. Arkham City is likely the same Holy Grail of gaming that Arkham Asylum was. As much as I am tempted to hope for a third game, my better nature hopes that the studio moves onto something else.
Just think of a Superman game with the Rocksteady Studios polish. Threequel or not, I sincerely hope that we are heading towards a brighter videogame future following Rocksteady’s lead.
As for you, Batman. Expect me this Tuesday.