Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to the surprisingly great Batman: Arkham Asylum, the debut game from London-based Rocksteady Studios. Arkham Asylum proved that it is possible to make a genuinely great superhero game with its fantastic combat system, great design, memorable boss battles and cohesive storytelling.
Arkham City doesn’t deviate from the formula too much and the end result is an overly familiar experience. Arkham City simply focused on adding more things into the mix. The visually-appealing freeflow combat system now offers a wider range of moves and combos, Batman now has more gadgets at his disposal and he will face more types of enemies and supervillains. And yet all this just doesn’t make it a better game. It just doesn’t feel fresh or new anymore. Not only that, but the feeling of familiarity is present at all times.
Arkham City tried to add something new by offering an open world construct. And yet the open world doesn’t really bring much to the table, it’s just there for the sake of it. It too follows the “add more stuff” philosophy. There are a ton more Riddler trophies to collect and more side missions. But they all boil down to simple tasks such as racing through Arkham City in a given amount of time, scanning a crime scene or just beating up a big group of thugs. None of it feels particularly engaging.
The design and pacing definitely took a hit when compared to Arkham Asylum. The boss fights are not anywhere near as unique and memorable. The story is also not nearly as strong and sometimes struggles with juggling so many characters to the point that certain segments just come off as silly or completely redundant.
All that said, Arkham City still provides a great deal of enjoyment. The combat system is still great, the controls are tight, the design is good and the production values are great. It’s a very enjoyable, but overly familiar, safe and simply inferior sequel.