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Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition review


Whisper it: Nintendo didn't make the best Metroid game of the last five years. It didn't even make the second best Metroid. Both honours go to Rocksteady, a plucky British studio that took the design skeleton of Samus' classic adventures and dressed it up as a giant, clown-punching bat.

The first game, Arkham Asylum, wore the influence on its spandex-clad sleeve. Batman explored a labyrinthine prison complex, backtracking with new kit to eke out routes and secrets. Like the best Metroid games, it felt like one huge level to conquer, lending it a really cohesive sense of space. He even got a scan visor: a 'detective mode' that let him sniff out clues, peer through walls and measure goons' pulse rates as he scared the bejesus out of them.

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All of this returns in Arkham City, only Rocksteady has pushed the play pit to daring extremes. After the events of the first game - quick synopsis: Batman gets trapped in the madhouse, punches everyone - the Asylum has expanded into Gotham's slums. The rechristened Arkham City is a warren of streets and alleys. Criminal factions, each answering to a different supervillain, fight for supremacy under the watchful eye of prison helicopters in the skies.

Gotham's reckoning

It's not so much an open world in the GTA sense, as a complex hubworld leading to contained levels elsewhere. Key story missions make use of the city's scale - you might have to sprint across it, or eliminate scattered targets - but the meat of the game drives Batman inside. It's a nice trade-off, giving us tightly designed interiors to stalk through and a wide-open playground to grapple-hook around and let off some steam in.

At the heart of it all is the most accomplished digital superhero since GameCube's Spider-Man 2. He fills the screen with intimidating bulk, his physics-enabled cape wafting in the wind. Dive from a rooftop and the cloth extends into a glider as responsive as any Pilotwings vehicle.

Pressing the crouch button transforms him from brash dispenser of bat-justice to darting avenger. Enter the closely-guarded interior locations and focus shifts to silent takedowns and predatory scare tactics. Victory is earned by dominating rooms through canny use of air vents, floor panels and the rafters up above.

The utility belt helps run circles around the enemy. Sonic Batarangs can lure a goon away from the herd for a secret fist-on-face rendezvous. Fire a Remote Electrical Charge at an electromagnet and it'll pull the guns from nearby hands. Our favourite is the Explosive Gel. Up to three squirts can be administered and then detonated at will by prodding the respective symbol on the GamePad map. Timing explosions to drop rubble onto henchmen heads is brilliant.

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The utility belt is the big focus of this port. The GamePad enables you to equip items, but you're still limited to mapping them to three D-Pad directions, so it's not like you have easier access than was afforded to 360/PS3 players. GamePad controls are a mixed bag. Gyro aiming works well and the tap-to-explode gels are neat, but the finger-tracing computer hacking mini-game halts the pace, while piloting Remote Controlled Batarangs is best viewed on a bigger TV.

With Batman's aversion to lead, you'll need to get your head around the gadgets, sharpish. Get spotted and smoke pellets let him grapple-hook to safety during the confusion, but the alerted guards will prove harder to stalk. Some late game alterations, such as the guards' thermal goggles, ensure you can't rely on the same tricks again and again. Making you feel powerful, but not over-powered, is the game's smartest trick.

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14 comments so far...
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  1. chazrinelli Saturday 29th Dec 2012 at 09:30

    I think it deserved a gold award!! I love it and I got it for Ł20 :D

  2. monthehoops64 Saturday 29th Dec 2012 at 10:02

    This is the best game I have for the Wii U nothing else comes close to it and I already have 9 games for it !!!
    This definitely deserves a gold award so your readers know to pick this up as soon as possible :D

  3. TheNUKEnukeM Saturday 29th Dec 2012 at 11:19

    I got it for xbox, and it really is one of the best games, ever. ONM seemed to be judging the port rather than the game itself and the game itself could easily been given 95%. It had the highest metacritic score on PS3 last year. It is really really good.

  4. dave666 Saturday 29th Dec 2012 at 12:22

    I had this for the ps3 and got the wii u version on launch day

    and in my opinion the wii u version is better,purely because of the gamepad features. Everyone keeps moaning about the framerate,but I've hardly experienced any framerate issues at all.

    this is not a bad port

  5. Kirby8 Saturday 29th Dec 2012 at 20:38

    I think it deserved a gold award!! I love it and I got it for Ł20 :D

    Same here, for your whole comment! I got it from ShopTo, and used the points I earned from buying my WiiU to reduce the price to just under Ł20! Wii U + ShopTo = Gift that just keeps giving! The Wii U is buying games for me, haha!

  6. 08boatfg Sunday 30th Dec 2012 at 01:41

    I'll probably get this on the Wii U cos of the gamepad features, even though i'll miss out on trophies for the ps3 :'(
    Just kidding! But I do love trophies :3

  7. TheVelvetRoom Sunday 30th Dec 2012 at 08:01

    I really do encourage everyone to get this game on whatever platform suits you best. It's just such a joy to play, and the defining example of a modern triple-A title that just gets everything right.

  8. ultra_slb Sunday 30th Dec 2012 at 10:48

    I played this on PS3, if you haven't played it yet, do it. Buy it for whatever platform :) It's a blast! It's a must have

  9. ThePokekid78 Sunday 30th Dec 2012 at 15:44

    Did Warner Bros hire everyone in this comments section as salesmen for the game???

  10. m0i Sunday 30th Dec 2012 at 16:12

    Did Warner Bros hire everyone in this comments section as salesmen for the game???

    Wouldn't say that but I understand what you're saying, also got the game, wouldn't call it a bad game but to me it's no gold award either. It's okay but it definantly has it's flaws in my opinion.

  11. Mr Roboto Sunday 30th Dec 2012 at 19:16

    Did Warner Bros hire everyone in this comments section as salesmen for the game???


    It is a good game to be honest I've played both on PS3.

    After I played the first game which was amazing I emailed Rock Steady to say thanks for making a great game and told them all the things I liked and things I would like to see in future Batman games.

    I got a lovely email sent back plus they asked for my address and shipped me a load of goodies :wink:

    Would be awesome if Nintendo snap this company up for exclusives games.

  12. imbusydoctorwho Wednesday 2nd Jan 2013 at 22:11

    Definitely my favourite Wii U launch game.
    I haven't noticed now frame-rate issues at all,the only negative I have about the game is the B.A.T,a giant waste of time in my eyes.
    Still the game should've got 90% at least.

  13. KH81314 Friday 11th Jan 2013 at 14:40

    They shouldn't compare it to the other versions. The first game was great and I got this one when it first came it out.

  14. John Cayzer Monday 20th May 2013 at 20:02

    it is only worth getting if you haven't played it if you have played it and completed it there is no point

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