Batman: Arkham Asylum was a blockbuster hit when it released on consoles in 2009. Rocksteady Studios nailed the perfect balance of combat and detective work to create a game that finally did justice to the Batman license. While first game was filled to the brim with a number of Batman’s most memorable villains, there were many left out of Arkham Asylum that would fit perfectly in a sequel. As fall 2011 draws near, the Dark Knight will have his hands full in the wild prison known as Arkham City.
Batman: Arkham City is set five years after the events of Arkham Asylum. Two Face, Joker, Catwoman, and hordes of other villains are at war within the walls of Arkham City. The new prison is five times the size of Arkham Asylum and the entire city is available to the player from the start. My hands on demo began with Batman prowling the rooftops searching for Catwoman. Using a long-range listening device, I was able to lock on to a radio signal a few blocks away. Catwoman had been captured by Two Face while trying to break into his private vault. Now dangling headfirst over a vat of acid, Catwoman needed my help.
Movement abilities can now be combined dynamically, so alternating use of Batman’s cape to glide and his grappling hook to gain altitude brought me to the doorstep of Two Face’s cathedral hideout very quickly. Opting for a stealthy approach, I entered the hideout through an upstairs window and watched as Two Face rallied his goons around the captured Catwoman. I used a few remote-controlled batarangs take care of the heavily armed thugs near the back of the group and leapt into the crowd to neutralize the rest of the group.
The free flow combat of the first game has returned for the sequel and gadgets can now be used in combat. I used batarangs to stun enemies and my grappling hook to wrap up enemies who were unwilling to get into the fray. I didn’t think it was possible, but the free flow combat is even more fluid than before. My well-timed dodges and counters were rewarded with brutal cinematic takedowns. After the melee finally ended, I was treated to a panoramic view of the dozen or so goons lying broken and battered on the floor of the cathedral. Two Face was not impressed with my combat prowess and pointed his handgun at Catwoman. My battle with Two Face’s goons was so drawn out, Catwoman had an opportunity to free her hands and subdue Two Face before I could play the hero. A short cutscene between Batman and Catwoman played before my demo came to a close.
Gamers can expect about a fifteen hour campaign and another 30 hours of exploration and Riddler side missions. Batman: Arkham City releases this October on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.