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Jul 13, 2013 1 comment

Batman: Arkham City – Armoured Edition review

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I can remember back at E3 2011 when Batman Arkham City was announced for the Wii U – the crowd cheered in excitement. Time can be wondrous, just fast forward to the Wii U launch, Batman Arkham City Armoured Edition barely made any ripples. I don’t particularly blame the game; it was released at a time where it would make barely make an impact. Rather unfortunate really. Arkham City on the Wii U, in my opinion that is, one of the better launch ports.

Arkham City is a direct follow up to the events that occurred in the first game. However, this time, the large inmate intake has left the asylum overwhelmed, too dangerous to keep the prisoners in check, too small to maintain a sanitized environment. In a bizarre decision, all of the occupants of Arkham Asylum are moved to the remnant of old Gotham renamed to Arkham City. Off course, this is going to scare the bats out of Batman’s cave. Just think about it, all of Batman’s mortal enemies in one place – it is a recipe for disaster.

The game takes off after Batman is adopted into Arkham City by Dr Hugo Strange.  Hells is about to break loose as a mysterious Protocol is about to begin in hours. The usual culprit -Joker is in his death bed infected by a bad case of WTF did he catch. When you think situations could not get any worst – you discover Dent and the Penguin are running amuck, mustering up their gang to reap havoc in the dystopia that is Arkham City. What a disaster – only Batman is capable to clean a mess.

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Rocksteady (the original developer) should be applauded. Batman Arkham City pays reverence to the source material. Batman die-hards will be ecstatic with all the cameos.  I do believe all major personalities in the Batman Universe make an appearance in some form.

The Narrative, itself, is fast paced, with a couple unusual turns of events towards the end. It is like playing a Batman movie, not the 90’s flicks with Michael Keating but the sublime Nolan trilogy. Now, the more I think about, the story does have a Nolan feel to it.

The fast paced story, is unfortunately, a double edge sword for Batman Arkhan City. The narrative moves at such a brisk pace; that before you can say Joker – you will be at the end of the game set to see the credit screen. The campaign will last about 10 hours for an average player; it took me less than that. Was the game lacking in challenge? Was I naturally breezing through the game? I cannot put my finger on it. Such a shame, I wanted the campaign to last longer.

That said, there is plenty to do in Arkham City that is if you are up to the challenge. The shortness of the campaign is offset by the large amount of content packed into the disc. For instance, making a welcome return from the first game is the Riddlers challenges; this is where most players will likely spend the rest of their time. The Riddlers challenge vary – some are environmental puzzles requiring lateral thinking to figure out the riddle, others are as simple as finding trophies scattered throughout the City. If Riddler’s challenge are not your cup of tea or if you aren’t good with riddles then you could opt for the side missions. There are a number of side missions riddled throughout Arkham City, but the quality is a mixed bag of delightful candy and terrible liquorice. For example, Banes side mission is a mundane search & destroy for titan canisters.  Cat Woman has an equally terrible mission involving a tedious search of Arkham City to retake her loot from inmates. Not all are bad, I particularly like Zsasz’s mission – a race against time answer a number of calls from numerous phone booths across Arkham City.

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The biggest change to the series is the large open world. Unlike, the separated areas of the Asylum – Arkham City is a complete cohesive playground for you to fly around the rooftops drop kicking unsuspecting grunts. This is a personally pet peeve, I concede that the dark atmosphere is necessary, but Arkham City is lacking in personality and life. Technically, speaking Arkham City is a marvel but from an artistic point of view – it hurts the eyes. I know I come off as a little harsh, by all there is to see in Arkham City is broken down buildings, littered filled streets and decaying infrastructure – not terribly attractive to look at to say the least.

At the core,  Batman Arkham City is an action adventure game with strong elements of stealth. You will spend most of your time running around Arkham City picking fights with lower level grunts, but on occasion you will be forced to solve light environmental puzzles.

The most lauded aspect is the deep combat. The combat in Arkham Cit is like a well baked cake. You know the types with multiple layers – with each unique layer complimenting each other. The sponge of this layered cake is the attack – counter –stun system. It is a fairly simple system – you can string attacks with a simple press of a button, counter with a simple press of a button, and stun enemies….. Well you get the point now.

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Unlike, the typical button masher, combat in Batman Arkham has many intricacies. The value of it all, is to maintain a combo chain, to earn valuable experience point and as well earn victory in difficult brawls.  Necessary, is an aggressive demeanour, throwing punches left and right until the grunt with whorish make-up is taking down.  Don’t let your fists do all the talking, you are Batman of course, string a couple of combo’s with the available gadgets. Use your bat claw to pull a grunt towards yourself, then close hanger their face. Ninja plant explosive gel while dodging an incoming sucker punch, and then detonate in comedic fashion.  Beauty of combat in Arkham City is that it is not a monotonous one button press affair – it is an addictive dance of rhythm and precision. It becomes a matter of switching between normal melee, counter, dodging and incorporating your arsenal.

Arkham City is fairly liberal with freedom. This perhaps is most evident in the stealth set pieces. There are two ways to go about things. The first method – the method I personally would not recommend, is to go all guns blazing (figure of speech by the way, we all know Batman hates guns), running idiotically around the room crazily attempting to knock out goons with an assault rifle. Or you could do the Batman method. By that,  I mean, closely studying the environment, using the shadows cleverly and silently picking off each enemy one by one. This is the Batman method! I for one love the stealth set pieces. It required more thought and planning, not to mention I can go at my own pace.

My favourite strategy is to find a vent on high level; this will be an escape route if I happen to be discovered. Methodically, I would silently takedown the enemy one by one.  If I set off the alarm accidentally, I would run by to my vent until the heat wears off.  Rinse and Repeat until it is safe to lurk out of the shadows. Stealth is your best friends in the harder difficulties as the rifles deal incredible damage.

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Obviously, I played the Wii U version.  To tell you the truth, there is nothing here revolutionary. I would certainly pick a cheaper PS3 version over the Wii U port. That said of course there are some unique Wii U features. Most notably, during live gameplay the map is located on the second screen.  You can use the Gamepad Screen to scroll through your inventory and available upgrades. Sounds boring right?

At certain points, you can use the second screen and the gyroscope to examine evidence. In addition, you can use the gyroscope to guide the remote control Batarang. Oh, I almost forgot about the B.A.T mode which essentially gives Batman additional boost in speed and power. And then there is off screen remote play. With the Armoured Edition, the Catwoman missions are included in the disc. In a nutshell, the Wii U gamepad adds very little to the overall experience.

I would put Batman Arkham City – Armoured Edition up there with the best of what the Wii U has to offer. Not because it is elevated by the gamepad (on the contrary the gamepad adds nothing to the experience) but it was a quality game before being ported to the Wii U.  If you have nothing to play on your Nintendo Wii U, and you have not played City on another console, then this is the game for you.

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Author:

Michael is the supreme master of the Miiverse and the proud owner of mii-gamer.com! He is a University Graduate majoring in the fine Arts and an avid Nintendo fan majoring in Zelda, Pokemon and Super Smash Bros. When he is not playing video games - he is usually outside riding Kangaroo's. You can follow Michael through his Facebook Page, Twitter account or visiting Mii-gamer.

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