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'Batman: Arkham City' not just another comic book game

Courtesy of Rocksteady Studios
Courtesy of Rocksteady Studios

There is a strange phenomenon in modern gaming. Almost every game that is based off of a well-known franchise is abysmal, due to the fact that an established franchise already has a fan base that is going to buy the game no matter what. Because of this, developers don't always put enough time or effort into a game that is going to sell copies anyway.

These types of games are often seen as cash grabs, but “Batman: Arkham City” is not one of these games. Not only is it one of the best games ever made based on a successful franchise, it is one of the best games released all year.

“Batman: Arkham City” picks up right after the events of 2009's “Batman: Arkham Asylum.” The inmates from Arkham Asylum have been moved to a segregated part of Gotham city that is now called Arkham City. It quickly becomes apparent that all is not well inside Arkham City and Batman sets off to find out what is going on behind its walls.

The story is, in a word, fantastic. It doesn't take after any of the recent Christian Bale films or adhere to any of Batman's comic book story arcs. It is a stand-alone tale but comic book readers will certainly find a lot to love, as there are countless references to Batman's established history.

Arkham City is chock-full of characters from Batman's past. Just about every villain you can possibly think of gets his or her moment against Batman. At times, it does feel like a bit of overload and several of Batman's key villains are glossed over, but they fit well in the world that has been created. The storyline of “Arkham City” opens with a bang and will keep you interested until the credits roll.

Anyone who may have grown up watching “Batman: The Animated Series” will no doubt recognize the voice acting of both Mark Hamill as Joker and Kevin Conroy as Batman. They are just as talented as before and add a great deal to the overall experience.

The game doesn't get by on story alone. The mechanics of the game are identical to that of its predecessor “Arkham Asylum.” At its core, Batman is a sort of beat-'em-up game with several key features added to the formula. You will punch, kick, counter attack and batarang your way through mobs of enemies. Add to that the ability to use almost any of Batman's gadgets during combat and it ends up being one incredibly deep system.

If you had to try and find a flaw with the game, it would be the extensive amount of ways you have to take down an enemy. Several enemies will need to be tackled in very specific ways and things can get a little complicated at times. The overall combat is engaging, and whether you are taking a mob of goons head on or picking them off from the shadows, it is always fun.

The main reason the game succeeds is the feeling of being Batman. You'll use his grappling hook to run across rooftops, stalk enemies from the shadows and take down villains in increasingly interesting ways. Batman is the world's greatest detective and the game does a great job of letting you step into those shoes. “Batman: Arkham City” isn't just great for a game based off a comic book; it is a great game, period, and it shouldn't be missed.


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