Batman: Arkham City Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PCWii U

Batman: Arkham Asylum's success hinged on the fact it would have been an outstanding game even without the undeniable force of its iconic source material. Instead of wheeling out the Dark Knight to distract from ropey construction and weary mechanics, as is so often the case, developer Rocksteady used the character to enhance and intensify the core experience.

For follow-up sequel Batman: Arkham City, however, tactful and intelligent use of the stoic hero is now expectation rather than pleasant surprise. But Rocksteady manages to unexpectedly delight once again by using a wider sample of the Batman universe and adding layers to its swelling chunk of Gotham city. If that's not enough to put a Joker-size grin on your face, it also lets you punch hapless goons really hard.

The sturdy foundations laid by the excellent Arkham Asylum haven't been reinvented, but every corner of the game somehow finds itself broadened and yet more focused, ensuring it can bear the weight of a loftier and more developed structure. Batman is now swifter and more dangerous, the villains more noteworthy and numerous, and the intricate world is more playful, varied and detailed.

Arkham City's first hour re-introduces the environment Rocksteady has both created and inherited, yet its familiar core now feels like a whole new world; the gothic interiors of the asylum have found themselves inverted into a neon sprawl of gaudy lights, dilapidated buildings, and steel fencing. Arkham City develops and juggles open space as beautifully as it does crevices and corridors, creating a lengthy single-player campaign that manages, after delivering a striking and unexpected opening, to toy with your expectations throughout.

Unafraid of employing some classic dramatic techniques, the oversized penitentiary is introduced by (almost literally) pulling up the stage curtain in a stunning vignette. Arkham City is a state-sanctioned prison, run by little-known villain Hugo Strange, which incarcerates political refugee and thug alike. Built on the decaying foundations of an unwanted chunk of Gotham city, it's a boxed-in no man's land peppered with a good chunk of Batman's most notable foes - including Two-Face, the Riddler and the Joker, the latter's psychotic coos and giggles still voiced pitch-perfectly by Mark Hamill.

It's a joy in motion. The major change is one of scale, and while the city's scope is tiny compared to some of its contemporaries it manages to remain a lean and taut adventure throughout. Traversal is divine, requiring you to mix gliding and grappling while weaving across the air for extra momentum - though you do look a teeny-tiny bit like you're hang gliding while smashed. The potential for physics-defying movements is quickly established, but it's not for a couple of hours of practice that the extent of your airborne freedom is actually realised.

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User Comments

pblive's Avatar

pblive

I thought you were joke(r)ing about the quality, but it seems to be no riddle(r) after you put pen(guin) to paper to give us your review without robin us of your (Hugo) strange two-face(d) humour.
Posted 14:49 on 14 October 2011
altaranga's Avatar

altaranga@ guyderman

When it comes to handing out 10s, he's tighter than a camel's arse in a sandstorm.
Posted 14:33 on 14 October 2011
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

Guess I'll get Batman for my MotM game. Will read the review later when I'm not at work and stuff. As if I'm working anyway lollll\z

Batman is still lame, though.
Posted 14:30 on 14 October 2011
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

\0/ Knew this was gonna be immense - can't wait! \0/

Nice review and we all know that a Martin isn't very forthcoming with them 10's!
Posted 14:30 on 14 October 2011
Jamin's Avatar

Jamin

Wayne to go Martin! Great review!
Posted 14:28 on 14 October 2011
dazzadavie's Avatar

dazzadavie

Fantastic review Martin really enjoyed it.
Now can I get away with starving just the cats to get this, or will I have to starve the entire family? umm
Posted 14:22 on 14 October 2011
Wido's Avatar

Wido

No matter what. This game is getting purchased!
Posted 14:13 on 14 October 2011
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

A 10?
Oh wow.
That review as well. Stunning.
Argh, loved just reading your opinions, so I'm probably going to die of happiness when I play the game.
Posted 14:11 on 14 October 2011
TomPearson's Avatar

TomPearson

haha jokes, this game is awesome
Posted 14:10 on 14 October 2011
TomPearson's Avatar

TomPearson

fanboy
Posted 14:10 on 14 October 2011
altaranga's Avatar

altaranga

Bugger. That was a thoroughly good read and in the space of about 10 minutes just doubled my level of interest in this game. I loved Batman AA. Looke like I'm gonna have to find £40 from somewhere so I can love this one too. Good work Gaston.
Posted 14:09 on 14 October 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Sweeeeeeeeet!
Posted 14:08 on 14 October 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Batman: Arkham City
10
Out of 10
Batman: Arkham City
  • Batman!!
  • Stealth
  • Batman!
  • Combat
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 21/10/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC , Wii U
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Genre: Action
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 415 3
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