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Batman Arkham City Review - Best Game Of All Time
Play The Bat
Best Game - Ever
When I say that, I'm including any genre and on any platform.
It really is that good.
I have played this game to death, over and over again.
It's one of the few games that I have played all the way through, from beginning to end, on different difficulty levels, and through multiple playthroughs.
It's also one of the few where I have played through nearly all the 'extras', challenge levels and what have you, and grabbed almost all the collectibles.
I like Batman a lot, and although I wouldn't say I'm a raving fan of the character, Arkham City (AC) keeps me coming back for more ..and more.
Read on to find out why.
Batman Highmark Signal
Back To The Asylum
The original game in this series was Batman Arkham Asylum and what a game it was.
The first one to introduce the freeflow combat system, it's still great fun.
Excellent story and voice acting make this worth a go, if you haven't played any of the new generation of Batman games, or even if you have.
If I was going on story alone, then I would say that Arkham Asylum is the best one in the series.
There are plenty of intriguing twists and turns in this one.
It's available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.
Opening Things Up
Arkham City follows on from the superheroes' first outing, Arkham Asylum (my previous best game of all time...) and opens everything up, from the world itself to Batman's arsenal.
I've never been any good at stealth games, but Arkham Asylum introduced mechanics that even a ham-fisted stealther like me could get to grips with.
Similarly, Asylum brought in a completely new and innovative combat system called "freeflow", which I just couldn't get enough of.
Well, just when I thought the first game couldn't be topped, Arkham City came along and made all these things even better.
There is more of an open world concept this time round, but with enough cramped interior spaces to keep you interested.
You can be gliding from one side of the city to the other one minute, then seamlessly drop in on some thugs to knock seven bells out of them the next.
Then you might follow that up by walking nonchalantly around the corner and doing a bit of detective work at a nearby crime scene.
The story in Arkham Asylum was hard to beat, but City somehow manages to top it.
In fact, you encounter so many different faces from the Batman universe that it is surprising it manages to stay coherent - and it does so to the extent that the ending will both shock and move you.
There are plenty of opportunities for stealth, combat and detective work, sometimes all three in one go.
In short, as I have said elsewhere, Batman Arkham City is a bona fide Batman simulator.
I've never come across another game which so completely put me in the shoes of the main character in the way that this one does.
Let Battle Commence
The one thing I love above all else in Batman AC is the combat.
I like the other elements, sure, but there's something about the way the freeflow combat mechanic just works and feels so right for Batman.
If you've not played it or its predecessor before, the idea is simple.
Instead of having to learn complicated combinations of button presses to get Batman's moves on (like many 'traditional' games), you have 3 buttons:
One button attacks, one button defends and the other button uses Batman's cape to stun opponents.
Oh, and you can use another button to jump over the heads of your enemies and attack them from behind.
Sorry, that's 4 buttons.
Well, actually there are one or two others, to do with gadgets and so on, but you get the idea.
This may sound strange or boring but it's sheer genius and a lot deeper than it sounds.
Did I mention that this is the best game ever?
Batman Speeds Up
Batman will start off slow and gradually speed up, the more hits or counters that you manage to string together (in what the game calls a "combo count").
As the combo meter builds, he'll eventually be able to jump easily from one thug to another on different sides of the screen, with joyful abandonment.
The animations change up accordingly.
Starting with a few simple punches, Batman slowly warms up, gradually moving on up to kicks, locks, throws, and bone crunching manoeuvres, which would make your eyes water if you had any time to think about it.
As you flow from one move to the next, you can also work Batman's famous gadgets into the fight.
You could throw a baterang (his well-known bat shaped throwing "stars"), grab a thug from a distance and pull them over with a grappling rope.
Maybe you'd like to pop some explosive gel into the middle of a crowd, or numerous other options?
After a reaching certain numbers in the combo count, you can even pull off special moves such as a one-hit knockout or disabling an enemy's weapon.
Keep The Flow
As long as you keep the flow going, you're good.
All the while, more bad guys are jumping into the fray and sometimes you'll face enemies with special abilities who can only be dealt with by a specific method.
If Batman is interrupted by getting hit, or missing a move, then the count starts again and it's back to the drawing board.
Since the amount of experience you get (or points, if you are playing one of the many extra "challenge levels") is tied to how high a combo you achieve, it gives you a real incentive for playing it just like Batman would.
There's lots to keep your eye on, but when they call it "freeflow", they mean it - it really does flow.
This moves things away from older games where the challenge was often just to stay alive, and into a situation where you try to defeat as many thugs as possible, as stylishly as you can.
And there are a lot of them. Thugs, I mean.
Batman is often surrounded by more enemies than a very over the top action movie.
However, the first time you manage to clear a whole room of them without taking a single hit, I guarantee you will be smiling all over your face!
So there you have it.
Arkham City is officially the best game ever (in my, ever so humble, opinion).
Or at least, it will be until the next one comes out...?
Of course, you can now get Batman Arkham Origins too, a prequel set in Batman's second year.
I'm several hours into Origins now - and loving it.
Correction: I have finished the game ...and am starting a new one.
You can read my review below.
It's also available for PS3 and PC.
Batman Arkham Origins Review
- Batman Arkham Origins Review
Can The Best Get Better? Anyone who has read my previous review of Batman Arkham City will know that it is my favourite game of all time. It has the best combination of story, combat, sneakiness and all round gameplay of any game I have...
The last entry in the series will sadly (for me) only be available on Next Gen consoles, such as the Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Correction: originally scheduled to be released in October, it has been pushed back to 2015.
That is fine by me, as I'm sure Rocksteady will be careful to fine tune all the new goodies.
It looks like I may have to upgrade my 360 before then...
What do you think about Batman Arkham City?
© 2013 Tim Bader