PAX Prime 2011: Batman: Arkham City
This isn’t a video game. You cannot convince me what happened at PAX was a video game. No, I was the goddamn Batman. I was being surrounded by goons and with a few swift, fluid moments, I had them all on the ground in agony. Then a shot my grapple up toward the roof of a building and glided across the hazy, eerily dark Gotham City skyline as I looked down for more crime to fight. I totally felt it, it was real. It had to be because I also stealthily broke into Two-Face’s hide out, eliminated his minions with some vicious kicks and cat-like acrobatics while rocking a skin-tight suit that hugged my thighs…Ok, that one doesn’t sound quite right. I wasn’t Catwoman, I was just playing a game as her. But I was Batman.
That’s how fantastic it feels to play Batman: Arkham City. You will feel like you’re actually the Dark Knight. Every last swoop from the rooftop, ground slamming landing, potent punch, and bat-a-rang toss makes you feel like a badass. You are the caped crusader in a city that has been overrun by madness, villainous behavior, and total anarchy.
You’ll play in the open world of Arkham, which was built by former Arkham Asylum warden and current mayor of Gotham Quincy Sharp, to detain criminals and inmates of both Arkham and Blackgate Prison. While it is being overseen by Hugo Strange, Batman and Robin both keep a sharp eye on it to keep things from getting out of hand. Things start to go awry when Two-Face decides he’ll execute a captured Catwoman publicly. Batman throws himself into Arkham to stop the execution, and the chaos only increases from there.
The demo felt amazing. The controls were fluid and never once did a combination of button pushing feel forced. There was no button mashing, just strategic taps of simple commands that pull off some of the coolest take down animations you’ll ever see. In the demo, I got a chance to play as both Catwoman and Batman, and they handle uniquely from one another. They feel just how you would want them to. Catwoman is nimble and uses moves of athleticism to avoid hits and swings her legs in a way that feels like you’re watching a ballet of asskickery. Batman feels heavier, stronger, and packs punches that make you cringe for the guy that got hit. He’s a brutal fighter and uses his strength and gadgets to take down his opponents.
You’ll notice plenty of gadget use throughout Batman: Arkham City, including the Cryptographic sequencer that will allow you to tap into almost anything, an improved line launcher that will send you grappling from building to building to navigate the city, and plenty more. They’ll especially come in handy in Detective mode, which has Batman deciphering puzzles to advance the story by doing tasks like tracing a sniper sound or examining a skeleton. There will also be plenty of traps from your old friend the Riddler that will require some Bat-related gear to topple.
Everything in your interaction with bad guys happens in a very freeflow style of play. You’ll combo from a counter to an attack to a launch of some bat-a-rangs in less than five button pushes. Nothing feels more rewarding than watching the combo meter continue to stack up higher than the piles of baddies that you’ve tossed in the corner. Batman: Arkham City makes you want to get into fights. In real life. That’s how strong you’ll feel playing it. Don’t do it though, you aren’t Batman, nor do you have any sort of fighting ability. Batman can take a punch to the face. You’re going to cry, and that’s not very Batman like.
There is nothing about Batman: Arkham City that shouldn’t make you extremely excited. There is a huge world that you’ll be exploring, an improved means of travel that will have you swinging from the city like you’re a Spider-Bat-Man, and a fighting system that still feels amazingly rewarding when you complete combo chains and take out a ton of enemies. Add to that all of the bonuses and pre-orders and never ending stream of content that Rocksteady will be dropping along with it and if this game isn’t on your “must buy” list, you should leave a comment with your name and address so I can send you a hand-written letter to let you know you’re an idiot. Get this game.