The Two Faces of Arkham City

Arkham City is a game that while utterly brilliant, is also slightly flawed. While it is clear that Rocksteady have delivered another iconic game, possibly a game of the year, there are still a few issues that we… ahem I have noticed.

(Good) Mark: Rocksteady delivered one of the greatest games of all time in Arkham Asylum. With its well paced and engaging storyline, amazing colourful characters and superb bone crunching gameplay, Arkham Asylum was the best. As such we expected more from its sequel and, in my opinion, we got it.

(Bad) Zero: Good thing no one listens to your opinion then. Rocksteady have tried too hard, delivering a game that may have sold millions on the back of its predecessor, but is not even in the same league. With the additional content came odd bugs and confusing storylines. Rocksteady tried to out do an exceptional game and they failed.

Mark: You’re mad. Rocksteady have improved everything from storyline to gameplay. From the very opening of the game you are captured and dragged into the prison and thrown at the mercy of the criminals you helped put there. Good thing you’re Batman then, and as Batman you have to fight your way through the criminal scum, taking down some of the big names in Gotham super villainy, all the while trying to prevent the malevolent Dr Hugo Strange from initiating the mysterious Protocol 10. The story is gripping and…

Zero: …too busy. From the start you are told that Hugo Strange is the villain, the man with the evil plan and he needs to be taken down. Yet, instead of taking the Batmobile and smashing it through Strange’s front door, Batman goes for a stroll, fighting with every supervillain along the way until Strange becomes just a voice on the radio, counting down the hours to Protocol 10, which turned out to be pretty anti-climactic anyway.

Mark: Ok, so the story may have been a little confusing but it was still full of brilliant characters, cameos from villains and heroes. The inclusion of side missions added more depth to the straight, main storyline. On top of that, there was all of the trophy collection content; over 400 trophies to collect will keep a player busy for a while.

Zero: The side missions… fuck, let’s just get this straight, there are only 12 (check) side missions, ranging from randomly dropping in to punch one guy in the face to listening to a bloke talk then disappear. They are not impressive and feel just a little tacked on to the overall storyline.

Mark: You can’t argue that combat hasn’t been vastly updated and improved. The free flow combat system has received a number of updated and additional animations, along with a new mix of knife and shield combat. Enemies will now try to attack you three at a time and thrown objects can be plucked out of the air and hurled in another direction. Even the cape stun has been given a combo update, and all this before we even talk about gadgets. Along with many of the original gadgets like the Batarang and Batclaw, Rocksteady have updated Batman’s arsenal with classics like the smoke bomb and…

Zero: What are you talking about? They added three or four new gadgets, including the useless smoke bomb that is supposed to help you escape from gunmen unharmed, yet when you drop it the criminals just fire into it randomly, usually hitting you. Oh, and when you jump out of the smoke they just chase you again. Useless.

Mark: Well, what about the ice grenade, that’s pretty cool isn’t it?

Zero: Spoilers! Yes, the ice grenade is good in a fight, freezing one enemy in place and eventually levelling up to freeze a group of enemies. Outside of combat, however, it creates little iceberg platforms on water, which in itself creates the most un-Batman gameplay ever conceived. Batman pulling himself along on a little ice raft… Rocksteady have taken out a bunch of gadgets only to put in a ton more that will rarely get used. To steal a line from that prancing green idiot, riddle me this, when was the last time you used the taser gadget in combat outside of the boss fights. The correct answer is: “never”.

Mark: I use it in the new challenge maps, which have been scaled up and can be played as many of the new downloadable characters, such as Catwoman and Nightwing. The Catwoman missions themselves add an extra layer of depth to the game with her alternative combat style.

Zero: If you pick up a Batman game to play as Catwoman you are an idiot.

Mark: So, like any game it has its problems. Arkham City is still one of the best games this year. The question people have to ask is: “Will I pick this up or not?”

Zero: They could toss a coin. What’s the worst that can happen?

Last five articles by Mark



  1. Pete says:

    Have to agree on a lot of the points – Arkham Asylum took 15-20hrs on first play-through. This? 10hrs. And that is with all side-missions done as well. Riddler trophies, as with all collectibles on every game ever, are dull and tedius, adding nothing to the game.

    The voice acting was top notch, the story was a tad weird but overall pretty good (though not on par with AA), the combat was refined and the graphics are stunning, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Arkham Asylum.

    I still think Rocksteady have produced a great game, but they tried far too hard to cater for it being open world, and trying too hard to play of the strengths of AA instead of the game creating it’s own, new strengths. E.g. the Ra’s al Ghul chapter was a cheap attempt at replicating the awesome Scarecrow sequences, at which it failed miserably.

  2. Rook says:

    I have to agree with Zero on this whereas that Mark guy loses the arguement. While there is no doubting that you have a bigger game wrodl to play in, that does not make it better. The story was not as good this time around and with Dr Hugo Strange being the big bad this time, the story ultimately had no urgency to it. That’s not to say I haven’t played a lot after completing the story, I’ve been completing the side missions and picking up the collectibles but there are far too many, expecially as you need almost all of them to complete the Riddler mission.

    In my opinion Arkham Asylum was the better game, or maybe I was just expecting too much.

  3. Chris Chris says:

    I’ve yet to play this. I want to replay the first one as I only played through it once. Great article mate. Did make me chuckle :)

  4. Pete Pete says:

    I wasn’t overly impressed with the first game… too samey the whole way through, though the graphics were pretty cool! Will wait til this one appears in sales :)

  5. Lorna Lorna says:

    I still haven’t played the first one, mainly due to seeing a mate playing it over and over and over ;) *cough* Victor *cough*

    Still, I’m one of those folks who would buy this to play as Catwoman as I loved her stuff in the gameplay footage that I saw earlier this year. That and she looks damn sexy.

  6. Edward Edward says:

    I’m looking forward to get my hands on it, but I like the counterpoint way you’ve presented the article. It makes for a pretty unique spin on reviewing the game, which I really enjoyed :D

  7. Mark Marks says:

    Ah comments. Forgot aboot them.

    Hopefully I didn’t go too hard on the game because in many way’s its on an equal footing with the original. The combat is still there, its still Batman and it’s still great. Still it suffers from that classic sequel issue of trying to do too much.

    So here we go,

    @Pete Voice acting was brilliant. Don’t be too hard on it though it’s still well worth picking it up. Arkham Asylum was brilliant, truely an inovative game that made comic book games cool again. Like I said above, the developers just tried to do to much. Agree though, they did fuck up on the Scarecrow stuff. Missed a trick but honestly I would have rather they left it out all together instead of trying to copy it.

    @Rook Don’t agree with that Zero asshole…he’s an asshole YEAH!

    @Chris It’s well worth getting.

    @Pete 2 Don’t get it! It’s not worth getting!

    @Lorna Lorna, Rocksteady could make a Catwoman game tomorrow and i’d pick it up. I loved the Catwoman sections of the game they mixed up the combat. What struck me was how the animations looked alot like that fucking horrible Catwoman film.

    @BigEd Thanks man. Appreciate it. Although this is in nooooooooo way a review of the game. Just me talking shit :D

    Thanks for the comments folks.


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