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Batman Arkham City

 

 

SCORE: 59

 

Batman Arkham CityBatman Arkham CityBatman Arkham City 

 

I’m Batman!”

It’s a familiar quote uttered by the Dark Knight in many of his movies and in various DC comics over the years. If you’ve ever been a fan of superheroes, you probably remember the Cowled One uttering this line at some point.

In Batman: Arkham City, you may just find yourself saying “I’m Batman” out loud. That, after all, is the draw to this game. It’s what made Arkham City’s precursor, Arkham Asylum, such a popular buy. For a life-long Batman fan, there’s simply nothing quite like the feeling of BEING Batman and being able to do the things that have always made Batman so cool. The first time that you grapple up to the peak of the tallest building around, perch for a moment and look around the city, then dive into the air and swoop down upon the bad guys-that’s what set the Arkham Assylum game apart from other superhero games. The folks at Rocksteady Studios have built upon that part of the first game, making this follow-up into a more expanded world to explore with more challenges to discover and side missions to embark upon while following the main storyline, which includes a lot of familiar villains.

One can spend a very long time just exploring the city without even moving forward in the actual story. It’s a very impressively-realized environment, recalling much of the Batman mythology that we already know, but putting its own touches on the design. The world of Batman has always been dark and dirty and that’s realized here in striking detail. There were a few problems with textures sticking out occasionally, and but overall the graphics are great.

Another way that the game makes you feel like Batman is the puzzles and challenges, like the interviewing of witnesses and the surveying of the crime scenes. Using the “Detective Mode” to look for clues or examine evidence, gather information from a witness - all of this adds to what could otherwise have just been a game about beating up bad guys. The fighting is a tedious piece of this game for me. There are only so many times you can punch a nameless bad guy before it all becomes a bit repetitive. Certainly, this is one drawback to the game. There is a LOT of brawling with henchmen, in back alleys, in buildings, on top of buildings. Everywhere you go, you get into Batman vs. henchmen street fights. This is a fairly violent video game and certainly not for young children. There isn’t much blood or gore, just mostly brawling, and players are never encouraged to kill the bad guys, but it’s still fairly violent and some scenes may be disturbing to younger players.

Besides the obvious violence that one probably expects in a game like this, there is also the glaring issue of how the female characters are portrayed and presented. Catwoman is a large part of the game, if you add in the downloadable content portion of the story that is all about her is broken up into 4 sections. Cool as it might be to have extra content, I cannot recommend downloading it for family play. The Catwoman character has always been a bit more sexily portrayed than she needed to be, even as far back as the mild Batman TV show. But here, the costume and the character’s dialogue is taken to a new level of overt sexual undertones in all of her movements and speech. Her costume is not only the usual black leather skin-tight outfit, but also has a zipper in front that is unzipped way further than would ever be practical for anyone but a fake character in a video game. All of the female characters (Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy also feature in the game) are similarly dressed and the camera often pans in to accentuate the skimpy outfits. Simply unnecessary and very disappointing.

Another big drawback to the game is the language. For instance and for no good reason, (in one early scene), where you are playing at Catwoman, the henchman that you fight against repeatedly yell the 'B' word at her over and over. It almost seemed like the creators of the game felt they had to force as many of the same word into that scene as possible. It’s actually just lazy dialogue writing. It seemed forced and took me completely out of the scene. And it’s that way every time any of the female characters are referred to or spoken to. And this certainly is not the only bad language to be found as you work your way through the game.

With Arkham City, the developers have kept what made the first game a Game of the Year Candidate for many worldly game reviewers, and built upon that. The graphics are top-notch, the puzzles and detective work are a lot of fun, and soaring through the air like Batman is simply unparalleled in video games to date. If you are a fan of The Bat, you’ll enjoy that part of the game. But, due to the problems I’ve outlined above, I have to recommend that this game is not for those who are looking for family-friendly fare.

- Matt

 

Graphics: 51%
Sound: 55%
Replay/Extras: 80%
Gameplay: 80%
Family Friendly Factor: 30%
System: PC/PS3/Xbox 360
Publisher: Warner Bros
R
ating: ‘T’ - Teen
{Alcohol Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence}

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