The Joker is loose in Arkham City and it's up to Batman to stop him.  After the surprise hit of Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady had big expectations to fill.  From the minute I saw the Gotham City skyline to the credits rolling, I had trouble putting the controller down.  Arkham City has this incredible ability to immerse the player in the world instead of the story.


For an open world game, Arkham City is on the small side, and with the addition of the Grapnal Hook it feels tiny.  But what it lacks in size it most certainly makes up for in character.  Around every corner there's an opportunity to do something.  Maybe you hear the screams of a political prisoner getting mugged or a ringing phone; maybe a Riddler informant is hiding out in a larger group of gang members or you see a mysterious figure watching you from afar.  Wherever you go there is always something to do, and Rocksteady does a great job of making you feel like Batman. 


In Arkham Asylum Joker gets sick, so when Batman gets to Arkham City, it's his job to hunt down Joker, uncover the secrets as to why the city was sectioned off, who Hugo Strange is and what sort of terror his mysterious Protocol 10 will bring.  That being said, Arkham City is chalk full of interesting plot developments and several twists I did not see coming.


The story has resonated with me in such a way that I'm begging my friends to hurry up and beat it, so I'll finally have someone to talk about it with.  It is not only one of the best comic book stories around but it's one of the best stories in a video game, I've ever experienced. 


An immersive world and fantastic story will fall short if the game play is lacking.  Luckily Rocksteady completely delivers and it feels better than ever to dropkick some thugs.  You'll start the game with the best gadgets from the first game and get many more useful tools and improvements throughout.  Every gadget has a quick trigger mapped to the controller for fluid use in combat.  Most can be upgraded through a new leveling system, which adds another personalized feel to the game.  Each player can shape Batman to his or her play style, this time around.


Arkham City has blown me away and still has me coming back for more.  I've beaten the game but still have hundreds of Riddler trophies to trackdown, Augmented Reality Training to complete, playing through a much more difficult New Game plus option and improving on my skills as Batman in the challenge maps.  It's almost overwhelming how much there is to do. 


Rocksteady added all this content and threw more in with the addition of Catwoman as a fully playable character.  She is quicker than Batman but less precise.  Navigating around with jumps and a whip won't always get her to the roof she's aiming for but a couple quickly timed button presses and she's well on her way to the destination.  Much like Cole from infamous she scurries up the sides of buildings to cover ground quicker.


Though Catwoman is quicker than Batman, she is also softer.  Just a few punches in combat and she'll be down and out.  So it's interesting to see how Rocksteady's combat system works with different characters. Personally I preferred Batman over Catwoman but it was interesting to think about all the different heroes who's fighting moves would fit perfectly into this fighting formula.  Arkham City is a phenomenal game that keeps the player glued to the controller, I loved every second of my play through and eagerly anticipate the next installment.