Barring a few exceptions every now and then, I’m always perpetually late on keeping up with the latest game releases. Part of the reason why is due to my out of control and steadily growing backlog. The other reason is that when I play, I prefer to go at a relatively slow pace and take my time; getting the most out of one major game (probably retail) while having a couple of minor ones (smaller downloadables or indies) to play on the side. It is therefore rare that I spend more than 2-3 hours a day on the same game. Based on this routine, I’m going to hopefully make this the start of the LTTP (Late to the Party) series of posts with my thoughts about select games, months or years later when consumer hype for them has died down considerably.
“Batman: Arkham City” was released in October of last year and I stared it in mid/late December, so I’m only a couple of months behind this time. If you played the prequel: “Batman: Arkham Asylum”, it’s unsurprisingly along the same lines, bigger and better and all that, which is not a bad thing at all. As with the prequel, the presentation is fantastic and you really get the feeling that this is the best possible Batman simulator you could ever play, especially if you grew up watching “Batman: The Animated Series” like I did. Without spoiling anything, the game ends at a point that can be conclusive to the series, and that’s fine since after beating it, I felt like I wouldn’t say no to a follow up, but I would be okay if they decided to stop here since the story had good closure and a follow up may seem redundant.
I’m surprised by how enjoyable the combat can be in “Batman: AC” (and in “Batman: Arkham Asylum” too I guess), because it seems so pedestrian compared to something like “Ninja Gaiden” or “Bayonetta”. However, even though you’re only pressing one or two buttons at a time, the fighting is seamless and engaging. It’s simple to perform attacks, but you have to pay attention to what your enemies are doing or holding to determine what techniques to use, and the timing between combos tight enough to where the game doesn’t autoplay itself. You are rewarded for variation, so the game encourages you to mix it up instead of mashing the punch button all the time. Another thing I like is the impact of the hits, as they managed to capture Batman’s rough and blunt fighting style and combine it with audible booms as he slams into people, so it feels like your really hurting these random thugs coming after you in a badass way. I would sometimes get into random fights on purpose just because it’s so satisfying.
My only real complaint is the abundance of Riddler puzzles and trophies and whatnot scattered throughout the game. I don’t remember them being this numerous in the prequel, but they’ve seem to have gone nuts with these for Arkham City. Granted, it is optional to hunt for all this stuff, so it’s not a big determent, but I feel like they could have cut the amount of Riddler Trophies in half and it would have been fine. As is, I found myself still scavenging long after I had completed every other objective or side quest in the game, and it became very tedious since a lot of the trophies require you to do whatever iteration of the same technique, be it stepping on/gliding off panels, hacking terminals, throwing freeze grenades at steam pipes/water spots, etc.
The Gist: I enjoyed it. Good combat, but ease up on the collectibles.