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Monday, July 14, 2014

Game Review for Batman:Arkham City

Premise:Batman must find a way to stop his enemies and shut down the titular prison.

Cast:Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamil as the Joker, Corey Burton as Hugo Strange, Grey DeLisle as Catwoman, Vicki Vale, and Dr. Stacy Baker; Tara Strong as Harley Quinn, Troy Baker as Two-Face and Robin, Kimberly Brooks as Barbara Gordon/Oracle, Martin Jarvis as Alfred Pennyworth, Nolan North as Penguin, Maurice LaMarche as Mr. Freeze and Calendar Man, Dee Bradley Baker as Ra's al Ghul, Stana Katic as Talia al Ghul, Fred Tatasciore as Solomon Grundy, Bane, and Hammer; Steve Blum as Sickle

Available On:Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC

ESRB Rating:T for alcohol reference, blood, mild language, suggestive themes, use of tobacco, and violence.

Genres:Action-adventure, stealth, beat-em-up

Notes:Sequel to Batman:Arkham Asylum. I played the Game of the Year edition, which came with a lot of DLC. Images taken from Gamespot and IMDB.

Pros:Fun gameplay. Plenty of villains. Will last you a while and is worth playing more than once. Multiple characters to play as (with DLC). Great gadgets to play around with. Fairly good graphics. Lets you explore.

Cons:Often misogynist in its treatment of female characters. The augmented reality training and the annoying voice that comes with it. Collectibles are harder to get. Playing as certain characters requires you to buy DLC. Story occasionally suffers for gameplay reasons.

After the mass escape that destroyed Arkham Asylum eighteen months ago, a new plan was proposed. Arkham City, a walled-off section of Gotham where everyone with a criminal record was dumped. Supposedly, those who prove they are rehabilitated get to roam free once more. Yeah, don't tell me you actually buy that.

Now we all know Batman will wind up in there somehow. Can he stop Hugo Strange? What is Protocol 10? And then there are the rumors surrounding the Joker....

Many (myself included) considered the previous game one of the best superhero games ever. Here, there took the basic gameplay from the first and added more everything. More gadgets. More villains. More combat. More room to explore. More playable characters (at least in the DLC). More sex and violence (see below). More plot twists. More collectibles. More boss fights. It's a rewarding experience worth multiple plays.

Playing as Catwoman in Thief Mode
The story is more intense and twisted up this time around, even though it sometimes makes little sense for the sake of gameplay. (For example, Batman's allies make drop-offs in Arkham City even through all that security.) And without spoiling anything, I will say the writers made a pretty bold move. As I said, there are a lot more villains. In the main story alone, you'll fight Joker, Ra's al Ghul, Solomon Grundy, Mr. Freeze, and others. Several of the boss fights tend to be pretty simple, but it's an improvement over the last game's frustrating fights.

You can follow the main story or you can just explore for a while. I would recommend getting a little into the story so you can unlock certain areas. In addition, several side missions are offered. You can complete them as soon as they show up, or wait until later. You'll investigate crime scenes to catch a serial killer, save hostages from death traps, destroy super-drugs, and so forth. I can't pick a favorite, but the worst would be the augmented reality training. You basically glide through hoops and listen to an irritating computerized voice telling you it's online and your success level.

I feel I should warn you that it's pretty dark. I would even go as far to say that's it worse than The Dark Knight. Sure, the Joker was disturbing there, but we didn't listen to some guy talk about how much fun it was to torture someone every five minutes. In short, this is definitely not for kids or the easily disturbed.

This time, the collectibles are a lot harder to get, so getting them all is going to be difficult. There's a bigger side story to it than last time. Last time, the Riddler was arrested when you got them all. This time, you have to get a certain number to save hostages.

If you purchased DLC or got the Game of the Year edition, you'll get to play as Catwoman in the main game. In the challenge maps, you can also get Robin and Nightwing. It's pretty fun, though the fact that it's DLC only kind of sucks. It also comes with a story called Harley Quinn's Revenge which is set after the main game. It's nothing special, with the best thing about it being you get to play as Robin.

Overall, this one is definitely worth a play.

Sex:The female villains show cleavage and midriff, and wear tight pants that show off their butts. Their attractiveness is (crudely) discussed by the mostly male inmates. You're also told that female prisoners are few and that some of the prisoners haven't seen a woman in years. They argue over who gets the few women their do find.
A neon sign advertises nude women, though there probably aren't there anymore. A lackey mentions a rumor that Harley Quinn is transgender. Catwoman sometimes kisses her enemies during fights, while they make leering threats. Her clothes and behavior are rather sultry. Quinn makes a remark about the Joker masturbating.
Two of Batman's love interests flirt with him. One refers to a night they spent together in Metropolis. A couple of Calendar Man's crimes involve stalking and restraining orders. It's implied a woman is pregnant. After Batman saves Catwoman from a sniper, she asks if he's expecting a kiss. Poison Ivy (still wearing just a open jacket and a thong) seduces various thugs, prompting Catwoman to remark "If you want a boyfriend, try the dating route." She comments as she leaves "No kiss? I'm disappointed." Joker leaves flirtatious voice messages for Batman. He also tells our hero to "get your cute a** over to [location]."

Violence:Many villains express sadistic tendencies and desires. Inmates talk about people they hate and want dead. They also laugh about their bosses killing people. They make threats during fights. Batman and other characters interrogates enemies, threatening them with serious injury if they don't talk. Several people are run through with swords. One guy impales his body on a fence post. Lots of people get badly beaten up, many by your characters. Enemies attack with guns, swords, knives, hammers, and tasers. Buildings explode.
A serial killer cuts off his victims' faces (which are then wrapped in bandages). A different murderer laughs as he discusses how he plans to end his victims. A woman's head is nearly smashed with a hammer. Two-Face has raw flesh on his scarred side. A man holds a knife to a woman's throat. Someone tells a story about his mom killing her class. Another guy killed his mother with a poisoned birthday cake.
As you progress, dead bodies pile up (some literally). A helicopter is shot down, with its surviving passenger targeted by snipers. Calendar Man talks about using his father's body parts as fish bait. Offscreen, Penguin freezes a man's hand and whacks it with a hammer. In an Arkham City story, Joker melts a woman's face with acid. A man coughs up blood. Two different characters dangle over a vat of acid.
A doctor is dragged off to be tortured by Joker's men (Batman saves her before they cause any serious damage). A henchman says they're running out of room for all the bodies of Joker's victims. Two-Face reportedly had one of his henchmen sliced in half. The guys who had to clean it up talk about the mess it made.
In one area, I failed a mission and was greeted with the sight of Hugo Strange holding a scalpel and informing me he would enjoy dissecting my brain. Riddler sticks hostages in death traps. In one of them, the victim is burned alive if you mess it up. Snipers attempt murder (and succeed a few times). A woman bashes her way out of a glass container, cutting herself and unwittingly leaving a blood trail for Batman to follow.

Language:"G*d", "b**ch", "h*ll", "d**n", "bas**rd", "freaking", "a**", and "crap" are used a lot. You'll also catch "w*nker", "arse", "douche bag", "idi*t", and "bloody". Depending on the chatter you listen to, you might even catch one "G*dd**n".

Creepy Villains:Pretty much every bad guy in the game except Catwoman and Talia al Ghul (who are more of anti-heroes, anyway) is at least a little disturbing in behavior or appearance. As I said, many are sadistic and lack any regard for human life. You can hear henchmen laughing about their tortured victims.

Drugs/Alcohol:Some pretty strong drugs and steroids can be found (complete with dangerous side effects). A few prisoners look for a buzz. Penguin smokes a cigar and offers free drinks to his lackeys. One villain uses his specially-designed drug on his victims, causing them to hallucinate. Mention is made of a woman who got drunk and killed her class on prom night.

Spiritual:Two villains are referred to as immortal. One is said to never truly die. We see them using their methods of resurrection, though these have more in common with old monster movies than with the occult. Besides, one of them doesn't seem to truly immortal, just rather long-lived. At one point in the game, it appears that you've entered a spiritual realm; however, you soon find that is not the case.
One of the buildings you visit is a church. And in spite of the fact that it's attacked twice (and the steeple is blown up), it becomes a haven for the people you save. One thug remarks the people inside are a bunch of do-gooders and hopes a hostage Joker took from there is hurt badly. In an Arkham City story, a villain prays and finds peace (as well as a non-supernatural cure for her ailment) through a priest.
Catwoman calls Poison Ivy's hypnotism "voodoo crap." A woman calls Batman a blasphemer. Talia al Ghul twice says "May the spirits be kind," or an equivalent. There are allusions to the Bible and mentions of things like fate.

So what were your thoughts?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

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