The lights are on
Batman: Arkham City is the second iteration of Rocksteady’s highly praised take on the Batman franchise. Arkham City expands on the gritty yet plainly comic book inspired tone of the first, only this time rather than escorting a criminal to the loony bin Bruce Wayne finds himself incarcerated in the walled penal colony that lies at the heart of Gotham. The player almost immediately has the freedom to travel anywhere within the bounds of the city. The locomotion of the previous entry makes an admirable leap forward to accommodate open world exploration, but I missed the claustrophobia of the asylum and soon returned to the critical path.
The villain who orchestrated your arrest knows that Bruce Wayne is the caped crusader but more alarmingly he has something planned for Arkham City called “Protocol 10”. The dark knight is soon thrust into a race against time and for his very life. Several villains that were conspicuously absent from the Asylum have set up shop in the city as well as a couple familiar faces. Combat returns as either the counter heavy brawls or gargoyle peek-a-boo of the last title, that may sound reductive and pejorative because there are more systems in play but that is the bare bones of it. Yes, there are new and old gadgets so you can look flashy or clever but dislocating joints and choking baddies out usually expedites the process.
The main storyline was engaging and I wanted to see what happened next although at times I felt like I was going to the next plot point just to see another character cameo. The Joker is alive and not so well in Arkham City and is injecting his special brand of chaos into the events and his part in the narrative is probably the best story arc of either of Rocksteady’s games. Sidequests are fairly abundant but they held little interest for me. Riddler trophies and Joker teeth are still available for completionists although I had little patience for either. Overall the title is a worthwhile evolution of its predecessor and continues the pattern of being a licensed game for fans and non-fans alike. The game takes inspiration from the gritty Christopher Nolan style Dark Knight but retains its comic book sensibilities that leave room for the fantastical.
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