TSA’s Top 100 of 2011 – #16 Batman: Arkham City

We’d been down this road before. Beloved superhero property, unproven studio, lack of a movie licence (though that could be seen as as good thing); all portents that suggested Batman: Arkham Asylum was destined to end up at the receiving end of a critical crowbar ala Jason Todd, the second and subsequently offed Robin.

Gaming as a medium does have a tendency to surprise, however, and when those first screenshots of Arkham Asylum appeared, all beautifully lit, with interesting characters and polished design, there was that moment of hesitation and, dare we say it, tentative apprehension. The first developer diary, narrated by Sefton Hill, pretty much dispelled any lingering reservations that remained. Then we got to play it.

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Basing a Batman game on the comic series rather than yet another movie adaptation while also injecting as much recognised talent into the project bore dividends for London-based Rocksteady. Written by Paul Dini, a veteran Batman scribe, and comprising the vocal talents of Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin (Batman, the Joker, and Harley Quinn, respectively), it was obvious from the get go that Rocksteady had a different idea about how to make a superhero game. Attract talent, focus on qualities such as story, character and action, and thanks to not being hamstrung by a looming unmovable deadline of a tie-in you have no control over, you’re on to a winner.

A sequel to Arkham Asylum was as predictable as a Gotham City hospital crammed full of goons in traction. All we really wanted to know was: who were the bad-guys? Are we still in the Asylum? And will there be Catwoman? (See above. That’s an affirmative.)

News came first that the sequel would be called Arkham City, the plans of the next title’s location actually available in Warden Sharp’s office in the first game. Unfortunately, the designers hid the easter egg a little too well and had to actually come out and announce its existence themselves on their Game of the Year podcast. Regardless, now that Arkham Asylum is obviously not up to the task of housing nut-jobs (see the first game’s events), and as Blackgate Prison is also out of the question, the aforementioned Warden, now Mayor of Gotham, cordons off a section of Gotham slums to contain the inmates. Employing psychiatrist Hugo Strange to oversee the project (that was your first mistake), the deranged doctor just so happens to have his own agenda regarding the Batman. You can imagine where this is going.

Despite critical acclaim, the first Batman game does have its detractors. Some found the fighting a little monotonous and, let’s face it, a lot of people never once turned off Batman’s “Detective Mode” vision, somewhat ruining the experience for themselves. Expect combat to be tweaked, while the game’s signature detecto-vision has been replaced with a new augmented reality mode.

It’s no real surprise Batman: Arkham Asylum has featured so highly on our list of Top 100 for 2011. We’re self-confessed comic-geeks, the first game was awesome, and this one has Catwoman in it. What more could you want? Smoke bombs so Bats can vanish in the confusion? Okay, it has them, too.

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25 Comments

  1. i wasnt really impressed by Batman: AA, it was over far too quickly and got extremly repative. However im willing to give it another chance and ill be keeping an eye out for Arkham city and i might possible try AA again and pick it up for cheap. i dont think it was a deserved winner for GOTY

  2. Good shout this one. After the first (which i loved) i’m very much looking forward to this. I’m wondering what 15 games come above it though! Looking forward to finding out over the next few days :-)

    • Yeah, some belters so far. Excellent idea this top 100 carry on…

  3. I was seriously expecting ths to be in the top ten. I’m really starting to wonder as to what number 1 is.

    • Bugger. *this* I’m definately getting a new phone next month.

    • uncharted 3 i think will be number 1 and killzone 3 hasnt been mentioned yet or last guardian

      • I was thinking Uncharted 3 myself but then i thought had the list already been finished by the tume UC3 was announced.

      • Ok, so guessing time is finally here. If so:

        1. The Last Guardian
        2. Uncharted 3
        3. LittleBigPlanet 2
        4. Killzone 3

      • @aquastyle, thats a good guess and list, i reckon u will be right ;)

      • Course I will :)

    • Probably better to do your guessing in a thread over in the forums. #15 is coming later this evening and may render some of your choices redundant.
      :)

    • Monster Hunter Freedom 3?

      Its unrivalled!!

  4. Totally won over by the 1st game so I have high hopes for the 2nd offering.

  5. So
    Killzone 3
    Little big planet 3
    Uncharted 3
    Resistance 3
    Motorstorm:Apocalypse
    Infamous 2
    The last Guardian
    Mass Effect 3

    Theas games should make it to the top 15?

    • Almost 50% of the top fifteen should be PS3 exclusives? Look, I love the PS3 as much as the next owner but I’d be massively surprised if the platform delivers as many top titles as the other five platforms combined.

      • The games that kivi said haven’t yet been mentioned, are all due for a 2011 release and are huge releases for the PS3 so yeah i would say so. Apart from Little big planet 3??? I think kivi means LBP2

    • little big planet 2 i think u mean not 3 ;) and resistance 3 has already been entered but i cant remember what number, was it 21?

      • Yes, #21.

        If you enter “Resistance” in the search field above (top right), it’s the third result returned.

    • yeah forgot that resistance 3 was at 21 or something and yes i mean Little Big Planet 2.

  6. Can’t wait for this but I still need to finish Arkham Asylum first.

  7. I only played the demo on PC of the first one so I can’t comment to much, but although the graphics and anims were nice and sparkly the whole thing felt rather dead and souless, like an old leather shoe at your local cobblers.

  8. Mark Hamill’s Joker is sublime. Always has been, always will. I can’t even imagine him doing it but he is fan-effing-tastic!

    • He is superb. I’m surprised he never went into any of the films, he wouldn’t need much makeup either with his slightly melted looking face, they missed a trick there.

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