The Dark Knight returns in Batman: Arkham City, a sequel to runaway hit Batman: Arkham Asylum from 2009. The 3D Metroidvania brawler with a dash of forensics formula that proved so popular before is back again, but this time in the playground of a sprawling metropolis.
The criminals and psychopaths of Gotham City are a superstitious cowardly lot, and the Batman has thwarted them many times over the years by striking fear and terror into their hearts. Before now, the more dangerous and deluded villains were sent to Arkham Asylum for rehabilitation. However, the current warden has gone mad with power and hatred for those that break the law, due to plot twists in Batman: Arkham Asylum that we won’t reveal here.
The result is the sprawling Arkham City, a downtown area of Gotham that has been converted to house the ne’er-do-wells all in one area. Whether it’s meant to keep them under control or to get them to destroy each other is anyone’s guess, either way it’s a volatile situation that the Caped Crusader is running himself ragged over trying to contain.
Trying to capitalise on the situation, Catwoman is prowling the streets trying to steal from the warring factions. Tonight, she’s stealing from Two-Face, but before that she has to get through his thugs. The Cat plays much like the Bat, with the free-flow combat system allowing her to move gracefully between the masked goons slashing and kicking and countering on the fly. Instead of the stun cape, she has her famous whip, which has a much greater range to make up for her lack of gadgets. Before long she’s dispatched her foes and goes on to crack the safe they are guarding, only to be surprised (apparently) by Two-Face sticking a gun next to her head.
Fade to black, and fast forward 24 hours thanks to an eye catch.
Batman is searching the city for Catwoman, and as the World’s Greatest Detective he doesn’t take long hacking the encrypted police radios as they talk about a hostage situation with Two-Face and Catwoman in the court house. The Warden tells his men to pull out, leaving the cat-burglar to whatever fate she is given.
Alfred, Bruce’s loyal butler and replacement for Oracle in Arkham City, voices his concern in rescuing Miss Kyle. However, the Dark Knight Detective ignores him and springs into action, gliding down to the front of the court house and quickly dispatching the guards outside. The fighting hasn’t changed a bit from Arkham Asylum, with the same combos and camera angles and visual cues one would expect. Once inside, Batman uses a stealth take down on a guard and watches Two-Face decide Catwoman’s destiny with a flip of his coin.
We won’t spoil what happens next, but needless to say Batman beats up some more guys and things turn out better than expected.
The game is really looking great, the voice work is again superb, and clearly a lot of love for the comics is again being poured into the action. It’s been over two years since Arkham Asylum, and we cannot wait to play the whole of Arkham City.