Eyes On: Batman Arkham City

Catty.

I don’t really get along with comic book characters – anyone that feels the need to run around in spandex or brandishing a cape is something of a downer.  That said, I enjoyed the original Batman: Arkham Asylum – its blend of stealth and close combat fisticuffs seemed to break the mould a little, focusing on the character and his story meant that I didn’t have to worry too much about superpowers or swinging from building to building.

[drop]Speaking of which, that’s what I was initially greeted with when invited to witness a developer run through of the sequel: Arkham City. Rocksteady have clearly gone to town, literally, with the size of this one – which, neatly, has a nod to the first and a clear indicator of scale by showing the asylum in the distance.  It’s much, much bigger and yet didn’t seem to lose the sense of connection that Asylum had – this didn’t feel like a typical free roamer simply because of the way key locations were used (like Harley Quinn’s cathedral) and the fact that even generic streets seemed packed with detail.

But anyway, whilst Batman didn’t strictly go swinging, his new, fully maneuverable cape means that getting from building to building is a doddle, gliding is lighter and there’s plenty of new grabble moves to ensure that if you don’t want to walk everywhere you certainly don’t have to. After a brief round of fighting, Rocksteady showed off City’s killer new feature: the ability to ‘pause’ Batman’s campaign and switch to Catwoman.

It’s a deliberate, but effective changeover.  Catwoman’s quicker, more graceful and – as you’d expect – a nifty climber.  Her role in the game (at least to us) feels like something of a side-quest, running alongside the main plot but with its own identity and characters; Poison Ivy will play a key role in Catwoman’s tale as the latter tries to pull off the heist of the century via a series of connected sub quests involving infiltrating and stealing items of value.

[drop2]Her moveset is equally diverse and different – Catwoman can crawl on ceilings, is far more nimble and her whip is great for setting up combos which, along with her bolas and her own attacks (like pouncing) means that fans will have a field day experimenting with combos and racking up the points.  She doesn’t have Batman’s detective mode, but a similar feature highlights anything worth stealing, which leads to some brilliant stealth moments as the player tries to – in the example we were shown – take pass cards from unsuspecting guards to open up a vault.

And Penguin’s inclusion is tantalising, he looks truly evil…

24 Comments

  1. Given this is completely single player I may have to wait until 2012 to pick this up. Looks really good though so I’m looking forward to playing it :)

  2. i have never been a huge fan of batman, the old films were bad but the new ones Batman Returns and Dark Knight have both been some of the best films i have ever seen,(the comic style ones at least i dislike). So trying Batman AA was a stupid decision by me. Never the less i borroweed the game off my friend, i was expecting it to be much better but it dissapointed in so many ways, it became repeatative, was very linear, short, no variation, the list goes on,plus half of the riddler challenges just didnt work at all which was very frustrating. Had so much potential but didnt preform in my opinion. Also the boss levels were so easy, i completed it on normal within a day :/ However, looking at the gameplay footage of Arkham City i think it has improved from AA, its huge for a start, it looks as though it wont be a linear experience, theres many more characters and bosses/villians and it looks very detailed that it will not become repeatative. So from hating AA im looking forward to the new one ;) (btw i have been slated in many forums for saying why i don’t like AA, when i can make reasonable points why)

    • Boo, you suck! ;) Nah I see what your saying. As much as I too love those newer Batman films I did find myself getting a bit bored of AA before the end (combat was great tho!). Hopefully this one is a lot better.

    • I am completely on the other side of the fence to be honest – I loved Arkham Asylum & it still remains one of the best games that I have played this gen (& one of my proudest plats!). Whilst the story was somewhat of a linear affair, you still had some freedom to move around the asylum (instead of being trapped in a room with only one way to go) & I didn’t see the problem in that, as some games that are more open world tend to lose their way a little. Would you really want a side mission where you have to deliver a package from point A to B, or get to a destination in order to defuse a bomb within a time limit or something? I also don’t know what issue OK had with the riddler challenges, but I loved them. They gave the game a fresh challenge & diverted from the plot slightly & they all ‘worked’ for me.

      All in all, I loved Arkham Asylum & am simply dribbling with anticipation about Arkham City.

    • I completely disagree, Arkham Asylum was a brilliant game. Infact, judging by the reviews of the game, most disagree with you.

      Being linear is not always a bad thing, some games are designed this way. That said, there were parts of Asylum that weren’t all that linear anyway. You could break off from the story and go exploring for collectibles etc for a while. The asylum was generally open for exploration if you wanted to.

      “it dissapointed in so many ways, it became repeatative, was very linear, short, no variation, the list goes on”

      Putting aside the linear claim, you say it was repetitive, short, and lacking variation. In the space of 3 negatives, you cite repetition and lack of variation. Irony? Also interesting that you completed it in a day yet still found the repetition overwhelming. Hmm.

      The combat in AA was another superb aspect of the gameplay. So much fun compared to many other failed implementations of hand to hand combat. The movement was fluid, good animation, etc.

      I presume you didn’t bother trying the combat/predator challenge rooms which were also a success if fun/entertainment is the goal.

      You complain about difficulty too. I’d have expected you would at least switch to hard, rather than leave it on normal.

      Of course, you are entitled to your opinion and it doesn’t really matter that I disagree with you. Your arguments aren’t “reasonable points” though, they’re mostly nonsense.

      • I think it is unfair and narrow minded to dismiss his opinions as “nonsense”. While I greatly enjoyed AA, I could see how others would find it repetitive and linear.

      • I can see why people would find it “linear” too (despite the fact the game isn’t linear in the true sense of the word or in the gaming context). Since when did linear equate to bad? If it’s part of the game’s design, it isn’t.

        He’s entitled to his opinion – as I acknowledged – just as I am mine. He may not have liked the game, but his “reasonable points” were nonsense. In my opinion.

      • It’s fine to disagree, I also disagreed with his points. It was your scathing tone that was unnecessary. I would have been quite offended receiving that response.

      • see what i mean? ( i said a bad thing about fifa 12 the other day and everyone had a go at me for that)
        now i agree everyone loved AA and it was most probably an amazing game, but i still feel it could have been better, with the riddler challenges, i worked them out and used detective vision on the object in question and it just wouldnt recognise it even though i knew i was correct. But to me as i have said it felt too repeatative, linear and was over far too quickly to me. I am really looking forward to the new one though.
        I say again it is a good game, but i disliked it (my reasons ive already said, they may not of made you feel the same way), you can’t argue with that! ;)

      • and dont worry if i was offended, ive had this type of response about 100 times before :p by the way im not too good at english, and many of my friends and family think i am dyslexic, these posts take a while for me to write and thank god for google chrome spelling corrections, even though ive left a few bad spellings too. I did try the predator challenges, they were the same as the encounters in the story so i only tried and completed a few. The combat was fluid yes but all you needed to do was hack one button the whole way through. However, i really liked the gargoyles as they offered tactical approaches which i think is best when it comes to batman, but i think the gargoyles were not used enough. Also you talk about me completing it on hard, well i was going to go and complete it on hard for a second play through but to be honest i couldn’t really be bothered :P Think thats cleared that up ;) games are all about opinions, you can argue how my opionion may be wrong/or you disagree but at the end of the day its how the game made me feel

      • Horses for courses. The only thing I wanted to respond to was the claim that some of the Riddler challenges “just didn’t work.”

        I’m not saying some of them aren’t tricky bitches (especially the question mark alignment ones) but they all *do* work. Say they’re finicky, sure, but don’t say they don’t work. That suggests a buggy game. It’s not a buggy game.

      • i must have been standing in the wrong place or not correctly looking at the object then, so apologies for that

  3. Looking forward to this so very much.

  4. Pingwins!

    That’s cool that you sort of play two stories in this one. I wonder if you can only play up to a certain part with Batman before you HAVE to play the Catwoman story.

  5. Looks great, I thoroughly enjoyed the first, and this looks like a massive improvement. I hope they have more variety in the bosses this time as in AA there were several that were the same..

  6. Anything with pouncing is a win from me.

  7. Only finished Arkham Asylum when PSN went down and absolutely loved it. Can’t wait for Arkham City.

  8. This and Tomb Raider are very high on my wish list.

  9. I seriously can’t keep up with all these great games coming out.

    • I know how you feel! From August onwards we have Deus Ex, Arkham City, Uncharted 3, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3 & Rage.

      As well as the above PS Vita will also be released!

    • My advice? Stop trying. Just pretend it’s not happening or you’ll spiral into a maelstrom of madness and despair.

      It’s got to the point now that I’m literally buying games that I know my kids will end up playing.

      (I don’t have any kids by the way.)

      • Kovacs, you are my saviour – This is now the excuse that I am giving to the wife next time I make a purchase (which may even be today)! :)

  10. Definitely looking forward to this one. If it’s an improvement on the first game, then it’ll have to be a 10/10. Just hope they don’t make the Freeflow Perfection combo so darned difficult to do…

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