Earlier today (technically yesterday) I reviewed Batman: Arkham Asylum, and now here is the review of the sequel. Batman: Arkham City is regarded as one of the best games in the series, I'm not sure why.
Set a few months after the events of the first game and Arkham Asylum has been shut down. The new Governor of the Asylum (Hugo Strange) has convinced the Mayor to create a new facility using part of Gotham City itself as a prison. The slum area of the city has been fenced off and converted into a giant holding cell patrolled by a private security firm. The conditions in this new place are said to be horrendous, with stories of mistreatment and political prisoners. Bruce Wayne is one of the prisons biggest detractors, and it is at a public rally that he finds himself arrested and thrown into Arkham City. There Hugo Strange reveals he knows that Wayne is the Batman and that he will not be able to interfere with Hugo's plans whilst trapped in the prison city.
The game area is a lot bigger this time around, mostly being made up of slums. You start the game with all the gadgets and abilities gained in Asylum, and on top of these moves a whole new bunch are thrown at you. Much like the first game you go from plot point to plot point using a mixture of stealth and combat. Here's the mix though; I didn't actually think this game was much good, I thought it was very disappointing and a step backwards.
I kept likening this to The Suffering. In that game you had a fantastic survival horror set on a prison island, then The Suffering: Ties That Bind ruined it by having you run around a city aimless for the most part. The same happens here, being more open it looses its atmosphere, locations are too small and spread out to far apart, the city itself is boring to glide around. The riddles that were so fun in the first game are ruined here by the sheer amount of them, you can't move for Riddler puzzles that for the most part are no fun at all to solve.
Main bad guys this time around have changed up a bit. Principal villain (more so than the seldom seen Hugo Strange) is the Joker, but a Joker who is dying, he contacts you via radio throughout the game. Two-Face, Catwoman, the Penguin (a fantastic addition, and the cockney accent is perfect), Solomon Grundy, and even Ra's Al Ghul all appear while the many (and mostly fun side quests) see you going after lesser criminals like Zasz. Being set over one night again sees your suit gradually get more and more torn and beaten about, a cool touch though this is a bit over done here.
The story was ok, but the plot twist for the Strange story was so obvious that it left me saddened. The Joker story was a lot better leading to a subdued ending. The game is a solid follow up to Asylum, it is just a shame that the locations are less interesting. The less said about the terrible Catwoman sections the better. A real shame.
On a side note the DLC 'Harley Quinn's Revenge' is terrible and nowhere near worth the 800 Microsoft points being asked for due to how short it is, and how it just reuses old locations.