Sealed within the walls of Arkham City, the Dark Knight’s latest adventure retains the high standards of its predecessor but fails to push the envelope much further.
Set one year after the events of Arkham Asylum, the criminals of Gotham have been sealed within Arkham City, an internment camp built in the heart of Gotham City. Surrounded by fortifications and under the ever present eye of the prison administrator Dr Hugo Strange, The Joker and other criminal masterminds have carved up the city for their own ends.
The transition to a larger open-world environment has removed the structure that the first game utilised effectively. Arkham Asylum’s story pulled you through the smaller open world areas of the island facility, while navigating Arkham City’s sprawling streets and rooftops hampers the flow of story.
Simply getting from Point A to Point B can often be time consuming, especially given the plethora of side missions and distractions the game has on offer. Despite this, the story is compelling and while the delivery may stutter, it is certainly worth experiencing.
With the increase in the physical scale of the game comes the obligatory expansion of the character roster. Almost every recognisable villain and sidekick from the Batman universe makes an appearance, from Penguin to Robin, as well as some more obscure entries such as Solomon Grundy.
Unfortunately, the inclusion of more characters means less screen time for each and we are never allowed to interact with any one character to the same extent as we would have back in the Asylum. You are often forced to fall back on in-game text logs and a personal knowledge of the franchise if you wish to understand the characters place in the overarching tale.
Arkham City feels like a sequel to the 2009 hit. The free flow combat, which was praised at the time, returns with a couple of welcome improvements. In addition to the combat, the arsenal of gadgets and weapons available to the player from the start mirrors those from the end of the last game and dramatically expands as you progress deeper into the city. Hours of joy can be gleaned simply from grappling onto a nearby water tower only to slowly glide down to surprise an unwitting henchman.
Also returning from the first game are the Riddler trophies and puzzles; a series of platforming and knowledge based puzzles which are littered throughout the environment. Numbering over 400, those striving for 100 per cent completion could be forgiven for thinking the Riddler is the game’s main villain, his presence felt more consistently in the world than that of any other character.
Everything which made Arkham Asylum great is present in Arkham City in one form or another. However, the advantages provided by going open-world have impacted the story-telling.
It is a worthy successor but you cannot be blamed for feeling as if you have played it before.