First off, some basic info: Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s Arkham Asylum by Rocksteady Games, which saw Batman trapped in a locked-down Arkham overnight and forced to fight his way through some of his fiercest foes to thwart the Joker’s latest scheme. Arkham City picks up a few months after the conclusion of Asylum, with Arkham Warden Quincy Sharp having become mayor of Gotham and essentially quarantined a section of the city as a high-security prison known as Arkham City. When Dr. Hugo Strange, in league with Sharp, calls for the incarceration of Bruce Wayne in this prison, it gives Batman the perfect way into Arkham City to stop Strange’s “Protocol Ten” and the Joker’s plot to poison Gotham.
City picks up on the innovative “freeflow” combat pioneered by Asylum, adding extra mechanics like beatdown, and new gadgets like Freeze Grenades and the Remote Electrical Charge Gun, among others. Also returning to the game are other series standards like stealth missions, challenge maps, and Riddler Trophies, though the riddle-solving mechanic from Asylum is scrapped in favor of side missions where Batman must rescue hostages from the Riddler’s traps.
On that note, Arkham City takes a distinct step forward from its predecessor with the addition of sidequests other than Riddler’s challenges. In City, the player can take a break from the story progression at any time to address a number of threats taking place around Arkham City, involving adversaries like Bane, the Mad Hatter, Hush, and Azrael (pictured above.)
The Game of the Year Edition also includes extra story-based levels featuring the ability to play as Catwoman, a new addition to the Arkhamverse. These levels add a nice background to the core story, but playing as the Cat comes at a price. As she is lighter and more agile than Batman, her combat tends to be faster-paced and more hectic, but also more reliant on proper timing of freeflow moves, as it’s much easier to get downed as Catwoman. Still, including extra playable characters was definitely a move in the right direction for the Arkham universe, and it’s nice to see that they took some of the character’s limitations into consideration when designing the play style.
While we’re on extra characters, the Game of the Year Edition also includes several extra skins for Batman, and two more characters that are available for play in the challenge maps: Robin (Tim Drake) and Nightwing. Robin’s staff and shield and Nightwing’s escrima sticks and wrist-mounted tranquilizer darts add a unique touch to the characters, and with the host of extra costumes and maps that accompanies the characters, there’s plenty to use these new gadgets on. Though Nightwing is unfortunately a bit underused (being the only character relegated to only the challenge maps), we at least get a little bit more familiar with Tim Drake as Robin during the story-based DLC Harley Quinn’s Revenge.
Revenge, which takes place after the story mode of the game, is an extra few hours of gameplay that shows us what Quinn’s been up to since City‘s conclusion, and it isn’t a pretty picture. With Batman missing, it’s up to Robin to try and locate the Caped Crusader and take down Quinn before a deadly fate befalls our hero. While a bit lacking in content as a $20 add-on, Harley Quinn’s Revenge is nonetheless a solid epilogue to Arkham City, and offers nothing much to complain about if you pick it up as part of the GOTY.
Arkham City is arguably the best game in the Arkham series, and it’s more than worth it to pick up the Game of the Year Edition, considering that you’d pay just as much (if not more) to gather up all the DLC alone. So if you haven’t already, I recommend that you make your way to Arkham City. We’ll be waiting…
Be sure to check out the rest of our “Video Games Week From the Batcave“ coverage, and don’t forget to come back later for our look at the Arkham City Collector’s Edition!