Friday, October 21, 2011

Joe's Quick Look at Arkham City

Joe here!!

So… on Tuesday I picked up my copy of Arkham City from Gamestop. Much to the protestations of Jason… who wanted to take advantage of the Toys R Us BOGO deal. My bad.

I’ve already put about 10 hours into the game and I’ve only completed 25%. I’d call that good game length. As for what’s in the game? I’ll try not to spoil too much... I like to talk about stuff... ask Jason, he still hasn't forgiven me for the 'Darth Maul' incident. Anywho...

The game picks up 6 months after the events that transpired in Arkham Asylum. Batman defeats a choice selection of some of his best villains, leaves The Joker atop the asylum for the police to pick up and Warden Sharp disappears. Fast forward 6 months. Sharp has become mayor and somehow finagled a way to turn a chunk of Gotham into Arkham City… pretty much the world’s largest insane asylum. Imagine what it would be like if the island of Manhattan had been turned into an institution. Better yet, don’t imagine it, go watch Escape from New York. That’s what it’s like; all of Batman’s crazy enemies in one place and you locked in with them. When I say ALL, I pretty much mean all. I can’t give too much out, but pretty much all of Batman’s villains are present in some capacity, be it story, quest related, or your fist in their face, they’re there.

As for Arkham City itself, it’s a free-roam world. There are barriers you can’t get past… the walls of Arkham City, complete with defense turrets… but the rest of the city is darn near open to travel through and explore. Your primary modes of transportation are gliding, Bat-Grapnel-ing, and leaping from roof-top to roof-top. There is plenty of room to move and fly. The new Grapnel-Boost and Dive-Bomb mechanics make travel faster and combat more fun; dive-bombing unsuspecting villains and releasing a kinetic shockwave when you land is a great way to spread a group of baddies out! One of the new sets of sidequests are the AR quests… or Augmented Reality. Basically, flight challenges. You have to use a combination of gliding, dive-bombing, and grapnel-boosting to achieve these. Good luck, I spent over an hour each on more than one of them.

Combat in Arkham City flows just as it did in Arkham Asylum. It’s a combo-based system centered on using a combination of melee attacks and gadgets to build up your combo ‘meter’ to a point in which you can unleash takedowns to permanently put a thug down. Just don’t take down that green highlighted Riddler thug first, those guys tell you where riddles and Riddler trophies are hidden (unlike finding the maps lying about in Arkham Asylum). It’s a great new mechanic that enhances gameplay and makes taking thugs out that much harder.

Riddler’s puzzles and trophies litter the landscape in pretty much the same way that they did in Arkham Asylum; but turned up a notch. The trophies require you to use a combination of flight, gadgets, Detective mode, and placement to get to them. My personal favorite… that I was ecstatic to figure out… you know those strongman games at the carnival, hit the target and ring the bell? Batman is the hammer. Brilliant! Some of the trophies are only available for Catwoman to pick up. If you try to pick one up as Batman, prepare for a shock. Literally… you get shocked.

Wait… did I mention you get to play as Catwoman? You do. She may not have Batman’s gadgets and toughness, but she has her own little sets of gear to help get her through. She’s faster on her feet than Bats and has Thief Vision, as compared to Batman’s Detective Vision, and she travels almost as well as Batman, using her whip and climbing claws to get from roof to roof. She also has the added ability of being able to climb around upside-down! I’ve only gotten to play 2 of her 4 stories so far… so I look forward to more.

Anywho… I don’t want to say much more. There is still a lot for me to play through, and I really look forward to doing so. In the mean time, I’m Batman… and punched a shark…