Batman: Arkham City First Impressions
It comes as no surprise that Rocksteady’s followup to the critically-acclaimed Batman: Arkham Asylum starts off on a great note. Here are my first impressions of the game having played about 5 to 6 hours of it. Hit the jump for the full story!
Starting out strong
I haven’t played Arkham Asylum in almost 2 years, so when Arkham City threw me in with nearly all the gear from the first game I was a little thrown off. As far as I can tell there’s little to no guidance on how to use many of the first game’s tools, which was both good and bad. The good was that the game didn’t waste any time getting into the juicy stuff and before I knew it I was gliding around solving riddler puzzles and finding side quests. The bad was that I pretty much forgot I even had a lot of the available tools, so things like the remote batarang, batclaw, explosive gel and the hacking tool were all but unused for the first few hours. I enjoy that the game assumes you can remember how to use everything since you played the last game, but a few more nudges about the fact that the tools were there would be nice.
I can fly!
Getting around the over-world was always a bit of a hassle in the last game. You could easily run into some thugs on the way and it wasn’t the best to glide since you lost altitude pretty fast. That’s all been changed with a thoughtful new addition to the grappling hook that allows you to double-tap the A button while swinging too a ledge which zips you in at twice the speed. When you reach the end, you’re hurled over the ledge and thrown right into glide mode. Combine that with the numerous tall buildings everywhere and you can basically fly from one side of the world to the other without ever touching the ground! Plus, its not boring, it plays out like a little minigame to see how well you can get from one point to the other. Several side quests require you to move around the map quickly, which makes this feature even more welcome.
One part of Arkham Asylum that was highly praised was the amount of collectibles scattered around. Chattering teeth, Riddler trophies, question marks, there was just a lot of stuff to find. I am a huge fan of collectibles in games, so I was not disappointed by this new game. Not only are there literally hundreds of Riddler trophies, but they are also hidden within ingenious puzzles to free them. Plus, the Riddler has now created several new large pocket areas that are reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie side-puzzles. Big collectible mini-games like this usually scratch an itch for me that other games just can’t.
Catwoman is surprisingly fun
I have been very surprised by how well the Catwoman stages have played out. Selena Kyle gets around just as easily as Bruce Wayne, but in a more stylish, Assassin’s Creed-like way. She uses her whip to get around instead of the grappling hook, and makes up for the extra distance with an incredible leap ability. She can also hang off of certain ceilings, which brings a new dynamic to the “lying in wait” combat that makes this game so much fun.
More of the good stuff
For what its worth, there aren’t actually a ton of new things in the game. It feels a lot like the first, just with new levels, new baddies, more gadgets and goodies. It could be said that this doesn’t feel fresh, since the gameplay is essentially the same, but why fix it if it ain’t broke? This is a perfect follow-up to a fantastic game and so far I can highly recommend it. Now let’s just hope there’s not another Joker end-boss….