Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Batman: Arkham City review

In short if you enjoyed Arkham Asylum chances are you're going to like this. There are difference though which may put off some or even encourage those who disliked the original to try it.

The first major difference is the scope of the playing area. The majority of Asylum was spent within buildings with the odd venture into the gardens when travelling between them. Now it's as if the gardens are huge... and covered in buildings... and water. There's still a lot of interior work, but transition now integrates better within the game particularly with the side-quests.

Side-quests are the second major difference. In Asylum the story was linear with the only off-piste jaunt being to track down the Riddler Trophies and Puzzle solutions. In City there are multiple side quests that occur within the city itself - some of the prisoners are being assassinated; Zsasz is up to his old tricks; someone's keeping an eye on you etc. None of these have to be done but they're a nice addition that doesn't clutter up the main quest log in the same way that Fallout and Dead Island can. Oh and the Riddler's still up to his old tricks, but he's pulled out all the stops.

Riddler's trophies are the third main difference. His puzzles act in the same way as they did in Asylum,  find the incongruous item and snap it,  but the trophies have moved away from simply being in hard to spot/reach areas - now you have to work for them. Although some still are left just lying there the majority are protected and only a head-scratching use of the gadgets or moves available will unlock them.

This then leads to the fifth and final main difference the gadgets and moves. The basic combat set hasn't changed and is still a flowing delight, but there additional moves that function against certain new types of enemy; and there are new gadgets (and new functions of old ones) which can be deployed even more smoothly in the heat of combat.

Then there are the small touches. Travelling is much easier with the Grapnel Boost (which has to be earned) that allows a gliding Batman to pull himself up to a ledge and catapult himself off it. The Dive move allows him to pick up speed and pull up both of these allow travel across the entire city without the need to ever land.

The Cryptographic analyser now works with passwords by matching one half of a word to another allowing for multiple attempts. The Riddler doesn't leave Maps around, but you can Interrogate the flunkies who set them up provided you don't knock them unconscious first. Oh and due to the size enemies re-spawn in locations so there's never a case of beating everyone up and then gliding through a ghost town.

In essence Arkham City is Arkham Asylum made better which is pretty amazing given how good the first game was.


Orphi said...

I'm still waiting to build a PC that can actually handle Arkham Asylum at full speed. Trying to fight multiple enemies at 6 FPS isn't fun. (Also, I have never yet found a way to make Batman attack a specific target. It just seems that when you press buttons, he flails around at random, until everyone is down.)

It still amuses me that my PC can handle Crysis, the most punishing game in history, yet it struggles with Arkham Asylum, a pretty low-end game in graphical terms. I guess it's just very poorly optimised...

FlipC said...

Yeah still no lock - I suppose it would go against the whole free-flow nature of the game.

I'm surprised at your PC handling Crysis and not Arkham City; there's barely a hitch on the PS3 and I've heard the same about the XBox 360 which in theory could use the same base coding for Windows. As you say I guess more optimising went into the console versions with the old stand-by of throw more hardware at it for the PC.