Batman: Arkham City – Worth The Wait?

In light of the upcoming PC release date for Batman: Arkham City (confirmed by WB to be November 22 for the US and various other dates for the rest of the world) – joker gamimg probably as good a time as any to remind the PC folks that yes – it is worth the wait if you don’t have a 360 or PS3.

Like any other self-respecting geek, I preordered the 360 version from Best Buy, which netted me the Robin skin for challenge mode only. Bit disappointing, that – I remember pre-ordering Metroid Prime: Echoes back in the Gamecube days and getting a pretty sweet T-shirt out of the deal. Or at least it was pretty sweet until it shrank in the wash…and at this point, I see the director motioning for me to STFU and get to the point. Very well.

Naturally, I got the game on October 18th and spent about 3 weeks on-and-off playing through it (unlike some people who are much more dedicated to crimefighting, apparently). If you’re familiar with the original Batman game (Arkham Asylum) – and if you’re not, shame on you – you may be expecting more of the same. Not exactly.

The open world approach to Arkham City’s gameplay (as opposed to the fairly linear style of Arkham Asylum) works really well – I never got tired of gliding or grappling from one building to another and swooping down to deliver some justice on random goons while headed to some objective or another. The downside is that like most open world games, you spend a lot of time wandering around trying to get to one objective or another and it’s not clear how to get some side missions to open up so you can play them.

Additionally, Catwoman was apparently over-hyped as a playable character. She does indeed get some playtime, but not nearly as much as one would be led to believe. However – I will say that she is very fun to play – very different MO from Batman and has her own gadgets to knock bad guys around with – the caltrops in particular are extremely useful when dealing with certain attackers later in the game.

There are a few other minor sticking points that I thought could have been done better (especially a few of the fights late in the story mode where you have to use specific moves to defeat some attackers), but that’s about it. Rocksteady definitely focused on the same “fun to play” and not “requires the reflexes of a tweaked-out cat” style that AA had.

But on to the great stuff and believe me, there is plenty of it:

The already butter-smooth combat in AA has been improved even more in AC – making it even more fun to beat the living daylights out of a huge group of guys at once. Most fights now pit you against 10+ attackers at once, you now have the ability to counter two attackers at once – and best of all in my opinion, Batman now has a hilariously over-the-top “Beat Down” move he can perform – stun an attacker with his cape and beat them into a fine paste with a rapid-fire series of punches.

You can still get by with button mashing, but AC does actually reward a little finesse in your combat style. The new gadgets including the smoke pellets and the like make this even more fun – I got way too much pleasure out of swooping in on a group of armed attackers, dropping a smoke pellet and taking out everyone in the confusion.

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