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    dkirschner's Batman: Arkham City (360)

    [May 20, 2012 02:35:53 PM]
    Started and finished Arkham City over the weekend. I thought the game was supposed to be longer. The previews went on and on about it being five times the size of Arkham Asylum, but it was all just space! There wasn't any more content, and probably even less buildings to go in. The campaign on the whole took me I don't know how long, but like a few hours Friday night, most of the day Saturday and like an hour to wrap up Sunday...maybe 12 hours or so. But it doesn't matter because it was awesome. The space wasn't a bad thing at all, as it let Batman focus on one thing he does well -- flying through Gotham. The controls and movement are way better in this game (or is it on Xbox vs PC?). Everything was tight and fluid, and the fighting is incredible. I didn't get it as much in the first one, but this one the combat really did it for me. I think it is mostly the Xbox controller, but there were also a lot of new moves, like practically endless combat techniques to master, and it looked and felt better.

    Other than the larger amount of space with which to play in, the rest of the game is basically the same and sequel to the first one. All the characters are great, story is really interesting, game feels gritty as hell. This one was different in that Joker isn't like THE bad guy. There are a few villains prominent, and most of the ones you take down last time show up in side quests or just briefly -- Killer Croc, Bane, Victor Zsasz, to name a few -- and there are a bunch of great parts and story tie-ins with characters who weren't in the last one. My favorites were OF COURSE the ones that make Batman trip. Since the Sandman isn't in this one, and he was by far my favorite last time (besides Joker), I was thrilled to see that Batman still trips thanks to the Mad Hatter and Ra's al Ghul, both sequences of which were great, and both of whom turn out to be integral to the storyline.

    I have to compare Arkham City to Assassin's Creed 2, which I recently played. They are both free-form movement/fighting action/stealth games. I like Assassin's Creed, I really do. But seriously, it has nothing on Arkham City (or the previous Arkham Asylum). Batman and Joker and all the rest are just infinitely more interesting than Ezio and faceless conspirator bad guys. Rich Venetian merchant bad guy vs. oh, I don't know...Victor Zsasz. Florentine nobleman vs. Mr. Freeze. Seriously, which are more interesting? Arkham City basically kicks the crap out of Assassin's Creed in most categories. The controls are tighter, the fighting is more fun, the location and characters are more interesting, the extras are more interesting and more fun to find and relate to the story better...on and on. The one thing I love about Assassin's Creed are the assassinations of course. Batman doesn't actually kill anyone, so there understandably aren't many of those badass moments when you've been hunting said Venetian nobleman for an hour and finally get him. However, what makes a Batman story a Batman story are the moral dilemmas he faces, such as what's it worth to stick to your guns and never kill. Then again Ezio's storyline revolves around him becoming an assassin, so they both work great. I'm glad I played AC first because I might have been disappointed if I'd played it after Batman...I do still have AC: Brotherhood, but I swear I will wait a good long time on that one to forget about Batman for a while.

    Regarding the extras, good lord is there a lot of additional content here. I thought Assassin's Creed 2 had a lot with its 300 treasure chests and storyless sidequests to get you to assassinate someone or deliver a letter. Batman has REAL sidequests with stories that aren't just pretenses to get you to run through the city and deliver mail. Find Mr. Freeze's wife. Track down a sniper as he kills again and again. Answer Victor Zsasz's incessant phone calls as he leads you deeper and deeper into his homicidal beginnings. Oh yes, and bigger than all of them again is the Riddler. I love the Riddler. He placed 400...yes 400...Riddler Trophies across Arkham City. I found about 1/4 of them through the game. Wow. Many of them you just go into detective mode and find weak spots in walls or go the opposite direction of where you're supposed to or explore like usual, but a lot too are real brainteasers. He stepped up his game this time around. You have to make use of like ALL your gadgets and brains to get these Riddler Trophies. I have half a mind to keep going with my post-game to collect some more. Bonus: collecting Riddler Trophies unlocks Riddler hostage events, where you have to go solve a riddle before he kills his next victim. The last one I couldn't figure out because he cheats! Silly me, trusting that the Riddler would play by the rules. It's the only time I turned to a FAQ and when I read it I was! Of course! All this is SO much more interesting than Assassin's Creed's "buy a treasure map. ok, now they're all marked on your map. go methodically search for them to fill your capitalist need to accumulate wealth." Games with Batman's type of extra content make me want to keep playing. Games with Assassin's Creed's type of extra content make me annoyed and want to finish the main game ASAP and never pick it up again. This is a really important lesson in game design for real. Putting things all over the map for players to collect because they are compelled to collect is cheap. Give them a better reason to collect, one that is meaningful, and not just in terms of in-game money. Batman is a great example.

    The game looks incredible like the last one did. Gotham's skyline, seriously, great job. Arkham City is divided up into districts, but I liked the way Arkham Asylum was set up better. So in City, there's basically Joker's district, Penguin's district, and government offices, and the TYGER zone. They're not too distinct and they're always infiltrating each other's space. Anyway, in Asylum, one of my favorite things about the game was the way the environment changed over the course of it. I particularly remember that as Joker gained more control over the asylum, he did some interior decorating and began leaving his marks everywhere, changing signs, painting walls, laying traps. The other transformation was Poison Ivy's base. That was incredible. Like that entire part of town got taken over by plants. There wasn't anything like that in City. The closest thing was when the steel mill got flooded, but that was nothing like the game-long transformations of Joker's and Poison Ivy's domains in Asylum. Oh, well I guess near the end there is one, but you're not really in the city like you were the rest of the game. It's still cool, but different.

    So to wrap up, there are all these extra Riddler trophies to get. There are like 80 special levels where you fight and get points for leaderboards, including levels you can customize, fighting challenges and 'predator' challenges, and like 180 Riddler campaigns to play where you choose mutators in each level and have to play through like 3 levels using all the mutators they give you. Looks challenging! If I wanted to try and hone my Batman skills, I would have plenty of opportunity. And it's tempting, but unfortunately, as usual, I have a billion other games waiting. Perhaps I'll come back to it later to complete some more extras. There is also some Catwoman DLC with apparently a totally different storyline (and her own Riddler trophies!). I'm not big on DLCs, especially if the normal game didn't feel finished enough, but Arkham City rules, and I'm borrowing it from a friend, so I haven't paid anything, and am therefore looking into buying my first non-bundle-sale-pack DLC. We shall see if it appears worth it!

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    dkirschner's Batman: Arkham City (360)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 18 May, 2012

    GameLog closed on: Sunday 20 May, 2012

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Amazing action game. I hope this series continues.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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    1 : Batman: Arkham City (360) by dmullig2 (rating: 5)


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