Currently Playing: Batman Arkham City (PS3)

A couple of years back Rocksteady, a relatively new game company surprised almost every gamer out there with Batman Arkham Asylum. The game represented Batman as the first game that really felt like it did justice to his character and making it fun at the same time. Now they released a new sequel called Arkham City, let’s see how it fares out.

Batman Arkham City is set just a few years after what happened in the first game. Although, it starts that Arkham turned into one big city instead of just one big Asylum. This can get weird , as you think, how did an Asylum turn that bad? This reminded me of concepts from a movies called Escape from LA and Escape from New York where the major cities turned into one big confined facility. Well, anyway, the story starts that Bruce Wayne is trying to stop Arkham City and returning it into an Asylum, making a public announcement that Arkham City is already out of control. During this period he’s captured by Dr. Hugo Strange, who somehow knows his identity. Bruce Wayne was able to free himself and with the help of Alfred (his butler) got to receive his famous Batman costume and other equipment. Now it’s a chance for Batman to figure out what happened.

If you’ve played the Arkham Asylum before, this is an interesting feeling that you start Arkham City with all the equipment you gained still with you. You don’t feel cheated out of it, like most games where you always feel like you keep loosing your power somehow near the beginning of the game. This game gives a feeling of natural progression. Although you can still upgrade or get new equipment which you can buy with XP (experience) points.

The main attraction of the game is how Batman attacks in the shadows, by doing surprise attacks. It’s obvious in the game that you can’t fight anyone directly if they have lots of weapons. You need to know how and when to attack and disarm enemies. There are several ways to hide, and each one can have ways of attacking enemies. Some attacks are focused on just disarming enemies, but most of the attacks can automatically disable them. Later in the game, some enemies will have more weapons to use like guns, motion sensors, snipers and other which can make it hard for you to hide, but a lot of tactics are good to learn in these moments.

If there are too many enemies, fighting is easy to get into, the concept is easy. One button to fight, one button to block and counter attack, one button to distract enemies and one button is for jumping attacks only. The controls are simple and the action can get really tight when a mob of enemies will try to attack you all at once. The effect of each fight can make you feel that Batman is one good fighter and he’s not like anyone out there. Although the farther you get into the game, some mobs will have guns, knives and shields which can make hand to hand combat a little more difficult, but it’s part of the game where you have to strategize each opponent, know what combo to use. The only problem I have with straight forward combat is that the automatic targeting keeps going through different people. Then again, I suppose it’s normal to attack several targets at once so that you won’t get clobbered.

Another part of the gameplay is the detective mode, this is another component that makes you feel like Batman. Your equipment allows you to see things in detail which you can’t see with your normal eyes. You can see people with weapons, if they have any information, if they have any armor and such, and you technically can see through walls. This can make planning your attack easier. These are things that you can use in combat. After fighting, you can use the detective mode to see things like bullet trajectory, blood trails and others. This can give you clues on what to do or where to go. A lot of the side quests will require you using the detective mode, other than the times you use it in the main game. There is no limit on using this mode, you can play the entire game with it on if you like.

Another fascinating thing about this game is the characters, not only do you get to feel like Batman, but you meet his usual opponents in the comic books, like Bane, Mr Freeze, Zhaz, Penguin, Ra’s al Ghul, Joker and others. Most of them just don’t just show up, they also show their personality. You get to fight most of them, and it’s more strategy than getting into an actual fight. There are clues in the game which the detective mode can help a lot. These boss fights are another great element in adding more depth to Arkham City.

The graphics is also a good sign of natural progression. Generally, it feels the same as Arkham Asylum, but the big city environment in Arkham City makes sure that the graphics is pushing itself better than it did before. The details are amazing, it shows up how dirty the city has been through. Aged, damaged streets, unmaintained buildings, everything looks gritty. Even the character models look great, generally you only see Batman and most important characters in detail, but if you’re able to unlock the 3D models of the characters, you can examine how much detail every character got into.

The music is another interesting component to the game. The first time you listen to it, it feels unique. The more you listen to it, somehow you see a lot of influence based on the movies especially with the main theme. It alone feels like a combination of the new Batman movies composed by Hans Zimmer and (get name) while some parts of it is inspired from the older movies from composer Danny Elfman and at the same time, they add their own touch which gives it it’s own personality. Ron Fish and Nick Arundel have done great on this piece. It’s amazing to listen to and I can’t imagine the game to sound any different.

Special note, it’s best to buy the game than renting it since you can activate the special playable character “Catwoman”. You will be constantly reminded about this add on since it’s part of the main game that you can use her. Not only in the main intro but in the game itself. Riddler left some things for Batman, but a lot of them are for Catwoman only. Once you play Catwoman, you can get into places where Batman can’t.

This is game is highly recommended. Renting it would only give you a short experience, but once you own it, this is one game that’s good to add to your game collection.

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  1. Updating the site with my old stuff « Pinoy Video Gamer

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