Arkham City takes Batman to the next level after Arkham Asylum left fans wanting more. Not only does it work as a great sequel, it improves nearly every aspect of the game. While Asylum helped us see Batman as the force of nature Bob Kane designed, in City we see what it’s like to be the bat in a city gone mad.
Gameplay was one aspect that Asylum was widely praised for and City manages to bring it to a new level. Playing becomes much more instinctive as the Batman’s actions become truly limitless. New features include the ability to swoop down, sliding across and under things, quick action commands for all gadgets, the ability to dive through glass and wood panels — the game offers many ways to achieve objectives. Combat has also been improved with a greater role of gadgets and combos.
The plot is one area where City far exceeds its predecessor. While Asylum had a relatively simple plot, City brings in a complex net of motivations, shifting allegiances and conspiracies within conspiracies. Thematically, the game is based largely on the famous Batman story arc “No man’s land” with villains taking over various areas and warring both with each other and Batman. Nearly every villain from the Batman mythos appears, from the infamous Mr. Freeze to the sinister Ra’s al Ghul. The one flaw in Arkham City is the shortness of the main game, taking 15- odd hours to complete.
The environment of the game is another star. Every part of the city shows madness spilling over, from the magpie s nest to the frozen hell Freeze. Characters seem to exemplify the undercurrents of insanity, their design both demented and horrifying. The score follows the action perfectly, seamlessly flowing from cue to cue, changing for a three second battle before smoothly switching to a soft exploratory tune. As best scores, it often goes unnoticed as a distinct element, yet constantly reinforces the moment, allowing players to suspend their disbelief and become the dark knight.
The open world of Arkham City is amazing. The addition of characters like Catwoman, Robin (and later on Nightwing) also allow you to explore the city in many different ways, providing new objectives, and new tools to handle old and new problems alike.