I tried to write a review for this game. I really tried. I spent the best part of last week humming and hawing over what to say. But I just couldn’t. There’s too much to say that’s already been said countless times in the slew of reviews out there. Yes, it’s better than its predecessor. Yes, Rocksteady have proved once again that they’re the Gods of the superhero video game. It is, without a doubt, the best superhero video game of all time. And it’s probably the video game of the year.
Not the Catwoman DLC opening (which is also great fun), the real opening few minutes of the game. You’re planted right into the story, and you’re playing as Bruce Wayne so you’re gadgetless and suitless. And <*SPOILER*> you’re kinda sorta handcuffed but not in a sexy way unfortunately. Not for long though, because you get to break those shackles and suit-up. </*SPOILER*> But while it lasts, that opener is one of the best openings of any game. Ever.
Apart from the obvious “OMGZ THIS GAME IS GONNA BE F*CKING EPIC!!!!1!” thoughts I had before the game was released, Catwoman as a playable character was a major selling point for me personally. The idea of slinking my way through the sandbox of Arkham City was very appealing. And then came the gameplay trailer for her. And wow. She moved so well. Flipping like a great Eastern-European Olympic Gymnast, all the while pwning thugs with whip-snap (pun intended) quick attacks. Fortunately, she lived-up to and far-exceeded my expectation. Her characteristic humour was captured perfectly and she was very sexy. And if you get a chance, just let her walk – she walks great. The only problem is there wasn’t enough Catwoman, so let’s hope Rocksteady have some DLC in the pipeline.
What I like about Rocksteady is that they know when they have a good thing going; and the combat system in Arkham Asylum was a good thing. So instead of abandoning it like a lot of game developers seem to do come the sequel, they took what they had a improved it. They made it easier, and introduced brilliant upgrades including lots of quick-fire gadgets, and some amazing new gadgets. My favourite is the Remote Electrical Charge, FYI. The silent takedowns have been improved with the double takedown option along with the slam for when you want to attract a bit of attention. But not just that, the improved combat upgrades makes combat more enjoyable and less inclined to become boring and same-y. You can switch it up at the press of a button, and racking up hit counters is both easier and more fun.
This is one of the most useful gadget upgrades in the game. Not only for boosting yourself up a building to get away or get around quicker, but it’s also useful in combat. You can use it to target enemies near ledges and it’s a instant takedown which is always useful. It’s also essential for certain phonecalls you might receive when you’re making your way around the city. Getting this upgrade quickly will really help you along the way, so get yourself onto those Augmented Reality training modules as soon as you find them.
For me, side missions in gaming is one of the most enjoyable parts. Getting a bit of a breather from the main storyline is always welcome here. With the Catwoman DLC serving as a semi-side mission here too, you still get a bit of break even if you decide not to do any of them. From chasing a serial killer through tracking phone calls to saving a few mansels in distress all the way to the bitter end with the Riddler side mission, it will all take you a fair bit of time, leading to you racking up some serious gameplay time. And it all counts towards value for money. And with Arkham City, it’s not short of that.
New Game +
If you know me, you know that replaying a game right after I’ve finished is a pet hate of mine. I mostly simply refuse to do it – unless the game is particularly enjoyable. The last game I did it with was with Portal. And the time before that was with Bioshock. To say the least, I’m very picky about what games I replay – at all, let alone replay when I’m just finished. And yet, the minute I finished racking up the Riddler side mission in my first playthrough, I immediately started on a New Game +. And what’s great is, it doesn’t overwrite your original game. It has its very own save slot. And the ante is pumped up. You’ve got all your gadgets from your original playthrough but now the training wheels have been ripped off you and the combat hints are taken away and the enemies are much more difficult. So, they’ve managed to make the new playthrough more enjoyable than it would be were it a simple replay.
I’m not going to ruin the ending for you, don’t worry. But what I will say about it is, it’s brilliant and I really wasn’t expecting it. It makes sense, given certain circumstances, but still. Wow.