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Xbox 360 Game Review

Batman: Arkham City


Format: Xbox 360
Rocksteady Studios
RRP: £49.99
5 051892 024532
Age Restrictions: 15+
Available 21 October 2011

Developed by Rocksteady Studios, Batman: Arkham City builds upon the intense, atmospheric foundation of Batman: Arkham Asylum, sending players soaring into Arkham City, the new maximum security "home" for all of Gotham City's thugs, gangsters and insane criminal masterminds. Set inside the heavily fortified walls of a sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City, this highly anticipated sequel introduces a brand-new story that draws together a new all-star cast of classic characters and murderous villains from the Batman universe, as well as a vast range of new and enhanced game play features to deliver the ultimate experience as the Dark Knight...

If you bought and loved Batman: Arkham Asylum then you'll be right at home with Arkham City. If you didn't play the earlier game... then boy will this be a treat for you.

The story follows on shortly after the last game. The Joker is dying from a deadly disease and to ensure Batman helps him find a cure he infects him too. The rest of the game sees you travelling over Gotham City in search of this cure by bringing down the major criminals.

The first thing to note about this game is just how incredibly beautiful it looks and feels. In the segments where you are travelling over the rooftops of Gotham, it's fun to explore your surroundings and experiment with using the grappling hook and gliding ability of your cape. Then swoop down on some of the minor criminals and practice your combat moves. You can follow the main story and at any time stop what you're doing and engage in some of the interesting side missions.

The main missions are pitched at just the right level and the cut sequences are well crafted. The voice acting is superb (this is Mark Hamill's last time voicing the Joker, a role he's played in various animated series and games for almost 20 years), the music incredibly atmospheric (exploring Gotham City in the early stages has a segment of music that pays homage to Danny Elfman's music for Tim Burton's Batman movies) and the story line keeps dragging you back for more.

You have an arsenal of weapons and gadgets that will help you get around any obstacle, in fact it's fathoming out what to use when you are confronted by a problem that's part of the fun of this game. You can tackle any of the criminals wandering the streets to get up to speed on your battle tactics. This also helps level you up, which in turn allows you to purchase weapon and armour upgrades.

Side missions see you doing things like helping innocents who are being mugged; travelling all over the city answering ringing phones; and scanning crime scenes to track down the criminals. In fact this scanning of your surroundings is an essential part of the game. In this mode you can see criminals through walls as well as any doors or areas you can swing to with your grappling hook. You can also see walls that are thin and will allow you to use plastic explosives to blast your way through.

I have a few minor issues with the game. Firstly there are a few areas (not that many though to be fair) where putting one foot wrong will result in instant death (the Penguin's shark is one instance). So if you accidentally press the wrong button, or move slightly into an area where you shouldn't, then it results in instant death. Thankfully though the save point will always be nearby and all it does is become a slight irritation.

Secondly, and this is something that seems to be happening more and more these days, is the necessity to pay more money to unlock parts of the game. In this instance you can purchase and play the game as Catwoman. To complete the game fully you'll need to, as the Riddler has hidden red question marks all over the map which can only be collected by Catwoman. Now I understand that you get this code when you buy the game, but this will be a problem in families with more than one child who share the game, but have their own Xbox account. Only one of them will be able to use Catwoman, It becomes a little annoying every time you boot up the game it reminds you that you can purchase Catwoman. Is this a modern example of pester power? Getting our kids to nag us to pay more for a game we've already purchased once?

And, once you've seen Catwoman in action you'll want to purchase her as her playing style is very different to Batman's - and she's incredibly sexy to boot!

But those slight moans aside, this is an engaging and very addictive game. While the main story mode won't take you too long to complete, the side missions and ability to roam around Gotham City looking for (and trying to fathom out how to free) the Riddler's collectables will have you come back to this time and time again.


Darren Rea

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