Full disclosure: I love pretty much everything that Paul Dini has written that involves Batman. I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like. I really like Batman: Arkham Asylum. (Didn’t write a review when I finally finished it because I figured it was a few years too late.) So, I’ll just come out and say that I loved this game. This was the game that finally got me to enjoy an “open-environment” type game. But, it’s really simple why I enjoyed the “open-world” aspect. First, it’s a Batman game. Second, and more important, the side quests aren’t mandatory. You could play through the entire game without touching any of the side quests, and that would be alright. But the side quests are worth doing, because they expand the characters and experience of the game.
There are minor spoilers below, but I promise, nothing big.
First, let’s start with the basic premise of the game. Of course, it takes place after the events of Arkham Asylum. (You don’t need to have played Arkham Asylum, but the game assumes that you did and won’t re-teach you stuff.) Hugo Strange, with his TYGER security force, control a walled off a portion of Gotham City, and keep all of the cities criminals in there. (Note: I haven’t read the comics that happen between Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, yet.) During a speech, Bruce Wayne is abducted by TYGER security forces, processed, and put into Arkham City. Of course, Bruce Wayne is able to escape the thugs by the entrance, and retrieve his Batman equipment that Alfred delivers via the Batwing.
Inside Arkham City, Batman finds what is essentially a turf war. Two-Face, Penguin, and Joker are all fighting for control of Arkham City, and Strange is just kind of watching over it all, counting down to Protocol 10. Throughout the course of the night, Batman discovers that Joker is dying from the after effects of the Titan formula (from Arkham Asylum). So, Batman is compelled to seek out a cure within the walls of Arkham City. Throughout the game, playing the main story, you will encounter Two-Face, Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Talia Al Ghul, Ra’s Al Ghul, Hugo Strange, and Catwoman. The side quests include run-ins with The Riddler, Zsasz, Bane, Deadshot, Hush, Azrael, and Mad Hatter. Yes, I’m leaving it really vague on how you meet these people. I don’t want to spoil things for someone that was waiting for the Game of the Year edition, which comes out at the end of the month.
The story is wonderful. The voice acting is great, but that really was never in doubt. It truly is Mark Hamill’s finest performance. The gameplay is well crafted. I really like the fighting system. It allows for variation, but doesn’t usually force you to work in a lot of different moves. Only towards the end of the game are you forced to use multiple combos that you learned throughout the game. These being against the armored thugs, and thugs with shields. Initially, I did have some frustrations with the combo to overtake guys with shields, but that was resolved quickly when I learned I was making it more difficult than it actually was.
My one complaint about the game is the DLC so far. I say so far, because the Harley Quinn DLC is additional story. The skins pack is nice, but you can’t really use it in story mode until the game “ends.” The Robin and Nightwing packs are okay, if you’re into the challenge maps. I’m not. Sure, I’ll play them sometimes, but it’s not something that I’m obsessively trying to complete. Unlike the Riddler challenges.
In Arkham Asylum, the challenge was figuring out how to get to the Riddler trophies, and using your detective skills to solve the riddles. In this game, there is an added challenge to the Riddler tropies. Some Riddler trophies are now attached pressure plates and/or electronic question marks. The trick with the pressure plates is to figure out how to touch them all without landing on anything else. With the electronic question marks, it’s a matter of figuring out how to break them all, or the order in which they need to be shut off. I found it to be a welcome addition, and only needing some assistance in figuring out how to solve them a few times.
In closing, I can’t recommend enough that you play this game. I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it.