Game: Arkham City
Released: Rocksteady Studios, October 17, 2011
System: Xbox 360
Game started: October 24, 2011
Amount completed: Beat the game, currently trying to get all the Riddler Trophies as Batman(Chip) and Catwoman(Laura).
Let’s just begin by saying if you like Batman (or well-made video games) you should play Arkham City. Hell, if you qualify for those first two statements, you should have played its predecessor, Arkham Asylum. But as I have found through conversations with my friends, not everyone did play Arkham Asylum. Not that they didn’t want to thwart super-criminals as the Dark Knight, they just never got around to it. So when I mention that they should play Arkham City, I often get this response: “But I need to play Arkham Asylum first, don’t I?” And here’s the thing, the more I think about it, you really don’t need to play the first game to enjoy the second. In fact, I have been advising people not to bother with Arkham Asylum at all.
For those of you who played Batman’s first journey into that dark night (HA!) of next-gen consoles, you may take issue with my advice, but hear me out. Arkham City has taken the formula for a great Batman game and improved it to near perfection. The boss battles are no longer just glorified quick-time events, there are even more villains to face, the story is much deeper, the combat is even more fluid. Overall, it is a better game. And why shouldn’t it be? This is the sequel after all. But as a sequel, one would think you need to play the original game to catch up to the current storyline. But we live in a world of Wikipedia, where spoilers are just a click away! Besides, Arkham City catches you up just fine without making you feel like a toddler who needs their hand held while crossing the street.
Think of it like this: you come up with a new recipe for an old favorite, let’s say a homemade pizza (because similar to Batman, who doesn’t love pizza?). You love your old recipe, it’s a family favorite, but you decide to tweak it a little. You add some spices to the dough, which makes the crust even tastier (new gadgets and enemies). You use a better grade of mozzarella, which produces less grease, and adds to the presentation of the pie (smoother graphics and improved resolution). To the sauce, you change very little, save for adding some fresh basil, which makes it slightly sweeter and a bolder flavor(some interesting twists and turns to the plot). Now you have a new pizza, and people love it even more (TA-DA, Arkham City)! Now, would you make your old recipe again? It is still a solid recipe, and I am sure some people would love to try it for comparison with the new one, but overall, it is not ground that needs to be retread.
But maybe I am looking at this the wrong way, and you should play Arkham Asylum as well. I have read so many Batman comics in my life, and even though they are all unique and interesting in their own ways, at the end of the comic, it is still Batman fighting his usual rogues gallery, and NO ONE is going to die. Batman doesn’t kill, and DC Comics are too scared to actually get rid of a figurehead hero in their comics. So even if there are newer and better comics coming out every year, why do I go back and re-read the old ones (at least once or twice a week)? Hmm, maybe this whole article is hypocritical. I mean, this thing reads like I am endorsing getting rid of one Batman for another, thus allowing for new and interesting storylines, only to chicken out at the end, just to bring back good ol’ Bats, because what would Batman be without Bruce Wayne?
Now all I need to do is throw Bruce Wayne through a time warp, bring him back to life, maybe make him a pirate/cave Batman, and I could work for DC Comics!
I love Batman with all my heart. In fact he is pretty much the only comic book hero I care for at all. But I am fooling no one into thinking I have any interest in this game to play as Batman. In fact I had no interest in playing the first game as Batman. This was partly because NONE of the villains interested me. I could write a thesis paper on the reasons I think the Joker is one of the lamest villains in comic book history, made especially lame by DC’s inexplicable reluctance to kill him. This is also because there was no Catwoman.
When they announced that Catwoman would be in Arkham City, I knew I would play it for her, then probably quit and pretend the other villians didn’t exist. When it was announced that she was an actual playable character, I knew for certain the wonderful folks at Rocksteady were making an honest effort to reach the small but important demographic of “me”.
I’m quite terrible with Batman. I don’t even like playing as Batman all that much actually. I prefer the method of blindly throwing myself against a wall and then scampering up to trying to find something to grapple to. I don’t understand the appeal of Detective Vision. It’s useful occasionally, but many people would keep it on the entire game if they could. I generally use it only to find what I immediately need. Otherwise I have the constant feeling that someone is going to sneak up behind me because I’m staring at his friend through a wall. I suppose it’s useful though.
So poor Batman never gets to play when it’s my turn.
The only thing that could have made it better for me is a Batman/Catwoman co-op campaign. Where Chip could be the Dark Knight and I could be his lovely lady interest. Unfortunately, that logistical nightmare, we are told, will simply never come to pass. And I understand. I do. But that won’t stop me from wanting a co-op Batman/Catwoman game in the same childishly optimistic way that I want dragon as a house pet.