Saturday, 18 August 2012

Batman Arkham City Review

Gratification has become a scarce quality in most video games these days, while most so called "big time" corporate company developers are working hard on making their product mainstream they seem to overlook the fact that certain features of the game aren't quite necessary to be a hot seller, be it multi-player, DLCs or perhaps even the visuals; they even go to great lengths sometimes forgoing certain critical elements like re-playability and length/play time for the sake of something trivial. Arkham City has to be the most gratifying experience one can have in a video game while it doesn't seem endlessly long and feature rich as certain Bethesda games, it does the job of keeping the player entertained and engaged for hours together.
One of our very first moments in Arkham City

                                             Speaking in terms of the story, Batman and his adversaries have thoroughly made a lasting impression in the predecessor Arkham Asylum, Arkham City undeniably has the upper hand on story telling.As the name suggests Arkham City is an expansion of the devastated Asylum through out North Gotham, led by Hugo Strange a name familiar for those who've read the comics. The true intentions of Hugo Strange and his benefactors are unknown at the beginning and for obvious reasons Batman is keen on entering the highly secured facility so the game starts off with you playing as Bruce Wayne (who is not disguised as the Bat) while he is protesting along with many others against the establishment of AC(Arkham City). For various reasons Hugo Strange sees Bruce Wayne as a threat to all of Gotham and is brought forth in to the Asylum pretty soon. Once inside the facility, your role as Bruce Wayne concludes and you resume your quest to bringing the whole shindig to order but just when things seem to go according to plan, everything topples down as the game's main antagonist Joker as always manages throw Batman in to various tense and annoying predicaments forcing Batman in a tussle with almost every infamous inmate known while some of them have been missed, the ones present make sure your stay in AC will be well worth your time.

                                  Apart from the main quest, the game also features a series of side quests which are definitely worth checking out, some give a deeper insight into Batman's adversaries and do manage to leave a couple of surprises now and then. The PC version of the game lets players take up the role of *drumroll* Catwoman at certain instances of the game, though it seems short lived, it was a simple take on her side of the story. Overall, the story is definitely a lot more mature than its predecessor and the side quests add up to the play time simultaneously, none of them seem redundant at all; I really appreciate Rocksteady's job on this aspect of the game.
And this is just a part of the city.
                                And again AC boasts the best of what the Unreal Engine 3 can offer, however  DirectX11 aspect of the game was claimed to be buggy and erratic by many but the game ran with out a hitch on DX10 and 9. I played it in high settings at 1366 by 768(HD6670 and C2D) and though the FPS weren't exactly stable, it never got below 35 (with a maximum of 80) which is perfectly playable. The game being open world would  naturally house a huge number of buildings to shimmy and monkey around and it won't be long before your notice the attention to detail and the same applies to the character models. What really draws the line between AA and AC in terms of graphics is the environment and the scale of the city. The city is simply huge rendering our experience in seem AA miniscule and short lived. Loading screens on the other hand are very reasonable and provide ample opportunity to summarize the plot (on how far you've progressed i.e.). Voices are great and immaculate particularly Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamil (Joker), they manage to over shadow every other voice over work done in the game.
Gliding is probably most enjoyable in Arkham City
                                     The gameplay is analogous to AA however there have been some really sound improvements in terms of navigation or combat. Starting off with navigation, walking and running as usual are triggered by the space bar and the new slide button through the ctrl button helps you go through narrow spaces, this nifty little addition proves to be equally effective in combat as well. Gliding seamlessly through the air has become a far more effective maneuver thanks to the numerous buildings and structures, in combination with the new improved grappling tool (acquired once a certain side-quest is completed), walking/running feels like an abomination.
                                            The combat again is quite similar to its predecessor; orchestrating between attack,counter and sometimes even the stun button but in combination with the myriad of gadgets, it's a walk in the park. The gadgets have been given a prominent role in combat without which, fighting and stealth becomes a very daunting task, considering the various enemy types. You start off fighting simple thugs, some of them bearing armor/weapons; later on you find yourself fending off assassins and finally the professional tiger security guards; the difficulty increases exponentially requiring better stealth/combat tactics.  Boss battles on the other hand are quite extraordinary in every sense of the word, although they follow a sequence based battle, they are enjoyable nonetheless and in all honesty, far more entertaining than the previous game.
                                               Playing as Catwoman seems more like a fluid and a less aggressive version of Batman, she has her own unique methods of navigation and combat is in-fact quite swift, slightly easier than handling the caped crusader himself.  A worthy mention is the 440 riddler challenges worth taking up, I myself have finished about 435 of them, spent a considerable amount of time finishing them up; really gratifying I must say. These challenges may vary from simply taking a picture based on a riddle to performing some of the specified feats/tasks.
Batman's costume appears more and more tattered as you reach the end of the game
                                   So if I'd still seem unsatisfied with the power gliding, riddle solving, side-quests, gadgets, campaign mode, tight combat and in addition to Catwoman's campaign as a bonus, I should probably consider quitting videogames or at-least resume playing Skyrim. That said Arkham City has joined the league of the most admirable and best video games I've every played.

Pros - nicely detailed visuals || great story || fun boss battles || combination of gadgets and simple combat is incredibly fun || side-quests and catwoman's campaign || riddler challenges.
Cons - some of Batman's adversaries have been missed/weren't paid much attention || Dx11 issues || unstable frame rate.

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