Batman: Arkham Asylum could well be one of the best games I have ever played, so the sequel had a lot to live up to, here is what I thought now I’ve finished it…..

The sequel takes place in Arkham City, an area closed off to be used as a prison for all of the criminal scum you could imagine. As with the original game you encounter all kinds of super villains and a few heroes too. The Joker still features as the primary nemesis and as usual “Luke” (Mark Hamil) voices him perfectly. The voice cast is excellent and the musical score adds to the dark tone of the city, reminiscent of the Christopher Nolan, Batman movies.

Because a large portion of the game world is a respawning, sandbox of exploration, the game does lose a little atmosphere but it manages to compensate for this with some impressive indoor locations for each of the main villains. The indoor locations are used several times each but this isn’t really any different to the first game and there is usually some visual update to the location such as a pile of old enemies the bad guys were clearing up after your last visit.

I also had control of Catwoman for portions of the game which was a wonderful addition, her attitude, demeanor and sassy comments made me smile and while her abilities were not as fleshed out as the Batman, she did move about and fight convincingly as the feline felon. You can also try out both Catwoman and Batman in combat trials and set piece challenge missions outside the main game, with Nightwing and Robin character DLC also available. These are welcome for a quick punch up and you can set yourself various challenges to customise the difficulty too.

Batman has a wide array of gadgets which was fun but I did find the quick fire method on PC to be somewhat cumbersome, having to double tap 1-5 keys to fire a quick gadget was tricky in the middle of actually fighting and several of the boss encounters require liberal use of this feature much to my frustration. Luckily I have some extra mouse buttons so could equip the claw, grapple and batarang to my mouse thumb which helped.

The city is packed full of Riddler trophies, challenges and secrets to uncover, which should keep completionists happy. However, where as in Arkham Asylum, I felt there were a perfect amount of secrets to uncover, in Arkham City I got truly bored going back and forth trying to collect 400 of them and eventually gave up bothering. Equally the advanced gliding training was a lesson in frustration as the game attempted to teach you how to glide between obstacles without hitting anything and forcing you to restart the task. I tried but failed at all of the advanced gliding, again finding them a little too irritating and not much fun after repeating it over and over. Watching YouTube videos it appears it may be easier on console but I can’t say for sure, maybe I just sucked at it!

I will warn you, if you buy it for PC you have to put up with a ridiculous “network” of Games For Windows Live AND Steamworks updating every achievement during gameplay. Games For Windows Live really is a dog’s dinner and forcing me to log into it was unwanted and annoying. The sooner Rocksteady dump that agreement the better.

Also of note, the Direct X 11 graphical features were unpolished and slow on my system, which was more than capable of running it at maximum detail so they could have done a better job there I feel. Some improvements were made according to patch notes but I was running it just fine in Direct X 9 so never bothered to try them out.

Overall, Batman: Arkham City is a great sequel and worth every penny, I don’t think it was quite as good as the original game  but it was another strong effort by Rocksteady Studios and firmly cemented their position as a quality developer that can produce some fantastic gameplay.

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