So, in an effort to stop feeding bad habits, I’m no longer buying new games. Exceptions are being made of course (Mass Effect: Andromeda, I’m coming for you!), but on the whole, I’ve been good at sticking to my promise. See, I’ve fallen into a bad habit familiar to most gamers; despite multiple purchases made every steam sale, I’ve yet to finish half my library. In fact, a quick glance leaves me at 49/91 games unplayed. And that’s not even counting console games! It’s a problem I’m hereby vowing to fix, starting with Batman: Arkham City.
I picked this one up back at release, having bought into the hype. Here’s a game that lets you grapple over Gotham and kick the crap out of goons. What’s not to love? In fairness, this was a pretty good game. They refined things from the previous Arkham Asylum but somehow it just couldn’t quite match its predecessor. It’s unfortunate but it’s hardly something to be ashamed of; “You’ll never beat the original” is a classic saying for a reason. Arkham City had some pretty big shoes to fill.
For some reason, despite how fun it was, I ended up putting it down back in the day. Weirdly, I think I finished about 70% of the game before quitting. Maybe it was schoolwork. Maybe I’m a magpie who gets distracted by shiny things! Regardless I felt I’d done the game a disservice by not finishing it during my new crusade. Plus I’d been denying myself subsequent Arkham games for years in the name of finishing City.
So how does it stand up to newer games? Well, without having played later Arkham games I can’t really compare those. However, I can compare it to the next best thing from that time; Assassin’s Creed. I know, the games aren’t really alike. One is about a comic book vigilante, the other is about… Y’know I don’t think you can really summarise all the bullshit in that universe at this point. You stab people! Let’s leave it at that! However, strip it down to pure mechanics – no settings, no backstory, just gameplay – and what you end up with is a guy jumping around the city, fighting bad guys by pressing X to attack and Y to counter. And yes, there are gadgets, but let’s face it – not many of us use them more than once.
Whilst comparing it to Assassin’s Creed 2, it still holds up pretty well! There are times when Batman will latch onto the wrong building, or turn the wrong direction and I sincerely want to kill him. However, I remember doing the exact same thing to Ezio back in the day. When it comes to parkour, there are always going to be times when you question whether your character is brain-dead as they veer wildly off the path you had planned. Furthermore, the combat is still very fun. I got pretty into getting my combo multiplier as high as possible. However, I did actually scare my boyfriend by screaming expletives at the goon that broke it. Yeah, I might have gotten too into it. Big numbers make me happy!
I especially enjoyed playing as Catwoman in Arkham City. Her combat was so fluid and fun. Batman felt badass in a fight, but it felt more like brute force than finesse at times. The only thing I would fault the Catwoman sections on is guns. After a certain point, there are places that Catwoman literally cannot go because the enemies have guns. Batman has a multitude of ways to deal with guns, from the Batclaw to a smoke bomb. But all Catwoman has is a whip! What am I supposed to do, whip the bullets? The only option became stealth, which fell apart in certain areas without cover. So maybe more consideration could have been given to Catwoman, but I suppose she was never meant to be the star of the show here.
So yes, I enjoyed returning to and finally finishing Arkham City. However, there is one thing that needs to be mentioned. One thing I cannot forgive, and should never be forgotten lest it return. WB Games… What the hell was with those Riddler trophies?! Seriously! I’d say like half my playtime on this game was solving those stupid things! A couple of puzzles is fine, but when you add >400 in your game about beating up villains, you’re taking the piss! Please, never make me do a timed puzzle involving giant green buttons again, I am begging you!
Well, glad I got that off my chest! Now, onto the next game in the pile, shall we?