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Review

Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition Review

  • Game release: November 18, 2012
  • Reviewed:
  • WIIU

The Wii U-specific additions put a few chinks in the Caped Crusader's costume, but Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition is still a great action adventure game.

In last year's Batman: Arkham City, the Caped Crusader faced one of the greatest adventures yet in his legendary career. Now, that game has made its way onto the Wii U as Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition. The new touches added here don't contribute much to the experience, and occasionally risk interfering with it, so there's no reason to buy this version if you have access to others. However, the Wii U version is still an excellent game, one that's absolutely worth playing if you haven't yet stepped into the batsuit and explored the open-air superprison of Arkham City.

Faced with a criminal housing crisis in the wake of the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the city of Gotham has fallen on dark times. Certain unscrupulous characters took advantage of the crisis by acquiring the run-down neighborhood of North Gotham, walling it off from the rest of the city, and tossing criminals in there to fend for themselves. It's an inhumane and immoral operation; food and warmth are scarce, and some inmates are people whose only crime was voicing a negative opinion of Arkham City and those who run it.

But their misfortune is your gain. The area of several city blocks that makes up the superprison isn't especially vast as open worlds go, but what it lacks in scale, it more than makes up for in atmospheric detail. Arkham City is home to an old courthouse, a former police headquarters, a musty museum, a disused subway terminal, and other fascinating places. These structures, with their faded portraits, old billboards, and plentiful other features, convey a sense of history, and the art direction that makes this vision of Gotham so fantastic is in full effect on the Wii U.

Batman has no choice but to explore the alleyways and underground tunnels of North Gotham. Within the prison's walls, Joker is dying, and the villain's schemes force the Dark Knight to help him find a cure. That quest brings Batman into contact with the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and numerous other members of Batman's rogues' gallery. Each character is represented terrifically, with plenty of nods to their histories as established in the comics, and part of the fun of progressing through the story lies in seeing what character might make an appearance next. The excellent Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Batman and the Joker, heading up an ensemble of voice actors who never miss a beat.

Locations like this ornate, disused subway station give Arkham City a wonderful sense of history.

Naturally, Batman's errand brings him into constant conflict with the many thugs and lowlifes lurking in the shadows of Arkham City. The game's combat is outstanding; there's a rhythm to chaining together your strikes and counters, and successfully keeping a chain going for a while is immensely satisfying. Your attacks are accompanied by terrific animations that look simultaneously graceful and brutal, and the increasingly varied configurations of enemies you encounter as the game progresses require you to frequently alter your tactics.

Of course, thugs with shields, blades, and body armor are one thing; enemies with guns are something else entirely. Batman is tough, but far from invulnerable, and when faced with such firepower, it's time for him to rely on stealth. Batman has an assortment of sneaky techniques at his disposal, all of which are great fun to use. Crawl up to an enemy from behind, and you can take him down silently. By hanging from a gargoyle, you can ensnare an unsuspecting enemy below with an inverted takedown. The excellent sound design adds tension to these stealthy standoffs, with bad guys becoming increasingly frightened as you pick off their buddies one by one.

One addition to the Wii U version of Arkham City does take some of the bite out of combat, though. Batman's suit now comes equipped with what's called Battle Armored Tech mode, or B.A.T. As you fight enemies, your suit stores up kinetic energy, and once you have a full charge, you can trigger B.A.T., which makes your blows do twice as much damage and activates a visual filter that highlights enemy positions. Part of what made the combat in Arkham City so involving was that every strike mattered and that Batman was fragile enough that missing a counter could be a costly mistake. Being able to do more damage at set times means you can worry about precision a little less, and this eliminates the exciting balance that combat previously maintained. Of course, you're free to just ignore B.A.T. and not use it, but you can't turn it off entirely.

Lingering above, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. It's good to be the Batman.

Another silly addition to Armored Edition is sonar, which lets you see indications of nearby enemy positions, as well as the locations of nearby collectible Riddler trophies, on the GamePad screen. Batman's detective vision, which lets you see through walls and easily spot any enemies in the area, is much more useful than glancing between the GamePad and the television to plan your next move, and manually spotting and tagging those Riddler trophies you don't know how to snag just yet is far more involving than letting the sonar do it for you.

Other implementations of the Wii U's GamePad to perform certain functions are more sensible, but don't appreciably improve the experience. When Batman investigates a crime scene, for instance, you can now move the GamePad around to search for clues; it's a nice option, but hardly a meaningful addition. Similarly, you can tap the GamePad to detonate explosive gel if you prefer that to the button command. Armored Edition's best use of the GamePad is not in the gameplay at all, but in the sound design. Now, radio transmissions, and all the enemy chatter that Batman intercepts, come through the GamePad's speaker, giving them a distinct, crackly sound.

These transmissions are a frequent accompaniment to your travels. One of the greatest joys of Arkham City is the act of moving around its open world. Thanks to your grapnel gun, Arkham City is a veritable playground for you, with all of its buildings for you to grapple onto and soar off of. Once you get the hang of generating momentum with your dive-bomb move, you can soar through the city, diving and climbing like a roller coaster. It's an exhilarating way to travel. And if, as you're flying high above the streets, you spot a group of thugs and fancy a fight, it's easy to plummet straight down and plant your boot in a goon's face.

Arkham City also acknowledges that Batman's brains are at least on par with his brawn. Occasional clever environmental puzzles, such as a situation involving a pool of water covered in thin ice, frozen cops who need to be saved, and a giant, deadly shark, require you to make smart use of your gadgets. More significantly, the Riddler is in town with nothing to do but torment Batman. As previously mentioned, Riddler trophies have been placed throughout Arkham City. Some of these collectibles have been hidden in the city's nooks and crannies, and if you locate them, you can simply pick them up.

However, in many cases, the trick is not locating them, but figuring out how to get them. There are Riddler trophies in plain view all over Arkham City, but they're enclosed in cages, and to retrieve one of these, you must figure out how the mechanism for that particular cage works. There might be a series of switches on a nearby wall that need to be triggered in a particular order. Or it may be a test of agility, with a switch that opens a gate some distance away that you have only a short time to reach before it closes. Some of these puzzles are surprisingly tricky, but there's always a discernible logic that makes working out the solutions rewarding.

In addition to his trophies, the Riddler has a new set of environmental riddles for you to solve. Some of these take the form of questions or statements, such as "Do you have Strange thoughts? Maybe you should seek help?" and "I am an actor who can transform a film with the final cut. Who am I?" Answering these requires you to locate the sign, storefront, or other environmental detail that contains the answer. The richness of the world already makes exploring it a pleasure; tracking down these solutions makes doing so even more engaging. Each of these that you solve unlocks an Arkham City story, which offers some textual background on the people associated with that particular riddle, deepening the neighborhood's sense of history.

All of the content from other releases is here, including this awesome Dark Knight Returns skin for use on challenge maps.

Solving these conundrums doesn't just reward you with a bit of text, though. The Riddler has also kidnapped hostages and placed them in riddle rooms throughout Arkham City, and the only way to get the locations of these rooms is by completing enough of the Riddler's challenges. And foiling the Riddler's plot is just one of the numerous side quests you have the option of pursuing or ignoring during your time in Arkham City. You'll almost certainly want to complete many of these, though. These engrossing quests often make great use of villains from the Batman comics who don't play a role in the main quest, and they have their own story arcs that are worth seeing through. They're also fun to play. There are strings of murders to investigate that have you analyzing crime scenes, following bullet trajectories and trails of blood. There's a madman who forces you to race across town to answer ringing pay phones before time runs out and he kills a hostage. There are innocent political prisoners who need your help. And much more.

All of the downloadable content that was available for earlier releases of Arkham City is included in Armored Edition. This means that the Catwoman chapters, which were accessed with a code sold with other console versions of the game, are automatically incorporated into the story here. Playing as Catwoman is enjoyable; she has just enough abilities that are unique to her to make her feel distinct from Batman, while controlling similarly enough to feel immediately familiar. She can cling to certain ceilings and use her claws to scale walls, and her caltrops and bolas can be used in combat to trip and immobilize enemies. And although Batman's Armored Edition suit makes him look a bit more like a chintzy action figure than he did previously, Catwoman's new outfit here is far more practical than her original Arkham City getup.

Once you complete the main story, you unlock the new game plus option, which lets you carry over your upgrades but also makes your life more difficult; you have to do without the helpful lines that appear in combat informing you that an enemy is about to strike. But once you've spent that much time with the game, you'll likely be ready for this challenge. And there are a host of challenge rooms that test your skills both in all-out combat and in stealth situations. Some challenges take the form of small campaigns that alternate between combat and stealth scenarios.

If you haven't already visited Arkham City, you should absolutely do so.

Each campaign assigns you an assortment of modifiers and requires you to use each of them once. One modifier might benefit you, perhaps giving you regenerating health, while another might benefit your enemies, perhaps giving one a protective aura that prevents him from taking damage. These modifiers, and the tactical process of applying the detrimental ones to the easier scenarios and the beneficial ones to those scenarios you might have a tougher time with, make these campaigns feel distinctly different from the encounters you have during the story.

But more than anything else, it's your adventures and explorations in the city of Arkham itself that make this game extraordinary. The B.A.T. option added for this edition of the game only interferes with the tense and rewarding combat, but that doesn't need to come between you and one of the best action adventure games of recent years. From the speedy exhilaration of soaring high above the streets to the atmospheric thrill of discovering long-forgotten secrets in the tunnels below Gotham, this is an unforgettable adventure that will keep you coming back to the cape and cowl long after you've seen the credits roll.

The Good
Atmospheric, fascinating world rich with details and secrets
Satisfying, varied, hard-hitting combat
Grappling and soaring around the city is thrilling
Great assortment of involving side quests
Includes all the downloadable content from earlier releases
The Bad
B.A.T. combat mode makes fights less exciting
8.5
Great
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6 comments
danpando
danpando

this is a great game. i did not notice much framerate drops, that means it plays great, looks great, the gamepad touch screen is great..i have it on my xbox 360 too and i prefer the wii u version. also black ops 2 on wii u looks and plays better than the other consoles,,,thats the truth so VIVA Wii U!!!!!!!!!!

zracxes
zracxes

 I Will never given up my new nintendo gamepad. the bad in this review is that the : bad is not the bad, maybe 2 out of 20 is bad. no no no , by this on wii u if u did not allready play it on pcor ps or what ever . the wii u is the best. nothing to talk abot. the wii u i actually virituel reality without the helmet. som wii u effects are in VR. so thump up for futures consoles 2 . this pulls us close to VR whats nxt? i hope helmet to see true and a gun to shoot with... it should be possible to fix this add ons accessory. sorry my english Sux. :))

Imperiusmax
Imperiusmax

I already played the original on the ps3 and loved it but dont think i will be getting this.

Skaaar
Skaaar

WiiU Graphs for this game are way better than the version of PS3

ne0man
ne0man

Though it's an year old it still is one of the best games of this generation, obligatory purchase for Wii U owners. 

InsipidGameHate
InsipidGameHate

Doesn't this version of the game still have the same plot holes, cringe worthy script, 5 hour campaign, illegitimate blue caped Batman, prevalent broken mechanics, corrupt save files, persistent glitches, random game crashes? Yeah... So why bother?

russelloh
russelloh

I really wanted to get this on Wii U, but then Steam had it for $5. I'm sure I can wait and get it for $40 on Wii U, maybe even $20 next Black Friday, but.... $5? Humph. Same thing with Assassin's Creed 3. $26 on PS3, or $60 on Wii U... 

Karjah
Karjah

It's a pity that the wii u console features seem to only take away from the experience rather then add to it.  Just like console ports for the wii.

 

I hate to say it but this is sadly likely going to be nintendos last console generation if the wii u keeps up the traditions of the wii in terms of 3rd party support and crappy ports of last gen games put out as launch titles. 

 

I so badly want to see Nintendo in it's SNES and NES glory days once again but frankly it feels as though the company has lost it's way in a large degree ever since the gamecube.

IHeartBungie
IHeartBungie

Man I don't understand that if JOKER dies in BAC how can he be in the new coming BAW DC you piece of shit you always give me a brain pain

StarkJJ
StarkJJ

 This "enchanced" version includes all the DLC and is still rated LOWER than the 360/PS3 versions?  Seems like Wii U hate from Gamespot...

ABetancourt
ABetancourt

So, it is the same great game, plus some new feats and it has all the DLC free of charge... LETS GIVE IT A LOWER RATING JUST FOR FUN...

thom_maytees
thom_maytees

It is good that ports in the most part are getting good scores. Still, there is room for improvements.

berebd
berebd

Why do people see these dam numbers as holy figures that make something good or bad. WAKE UP and stop freaking seeing these numbers so serious.

amaneuvering
amaneuvering

Hmmmm,

 

An 8.5 doesn't seem to reflect the claim that it's "one of the very best action adventure of recent years".

Zaledo
Zaledo

@Karjah The Wii U just game out man, it's doing WAY better port-wise then either the PS3 or the 360 did at their launch. This is new hardware, you can't just expect the developers to instantly click with it and push it to its fullest potential.

You really have to give it more then just a few months. Just slight FPS issues is actually really good for a port to a just-born console.

JanCarl0
JanCarl0

 @IHeartBungie Arkham World? Who even confirmed that? There's going to be a prequel, not sequel. And if he is alive, it wouldn't surprise because I payed pretty close attention to the ending

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

 @gamefreak215jd It's the same evolution that every iteration of Batman goes through.  First, he looks pretty damn cool.  Then he armors up and goes ice skating down the tail of a dinosaur with 3 Batkids in tow.

Rickystickyman
Rickystickyman

 @StarkJJ You obviously didn't even read the review, also just because you get DLC content doesn't make it automatically better. The main problem (why it got a lower score) is because of the awkward and weird controls.

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

 @StarkJJ "Seems like Wii U hate from Gamespot..."

 

...Or more likely irrational paranoia by Nintendo zealots.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

 @ABetancourt The DLC is not "free of charge".  The GotY editions for 360 and PS3, which include all the DLC, are a full $20 cheaper.

 

You're actually paying extra for it.

 

The DLC itself was all pretty lame to begin with, so I'm confused about why you think including it would increase the score at all.

Rickystickyman
Rickystickyman

 @ABetancourt The controls weren't as good and that took away from the combat and the overall experience. Did you even read the review?

mastertien123
mastertien123

 @ABetancourt Stop bitching about the stupid score already . I mean it does have a weakness in this version after all . And it's the combat mode that make game less exciting (according to the reviewer anyway) . Plus, those free of charge DLCs already exists in the GOTY edition .   

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

 @amaneuvering The game is over a year old, so that seems to make sense.

 

Had this come out the same time it did for 360 and PS3 the score would probably be higher.

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @amaneuvering This is Gamespot. Any game that deserves somewhere between and 8 and a 9.5 just gets rounded to 8.5. It's their favourite score.

InsipidGameHate
InsipidGameHate

 @Savior4Life No you didn't. Unlike you I'm not oblivious and  irrationally infatuated with this perversion of a cultural icon. You're complacent with a shitty game, simple as that.

Karjah
Karjah

@Zaledo @Karjah  Sorry but go read the review again if you fail to understand how utterly disappointing the wii u features are here.

This launch has had more in common with the wii then ever before after a few months and yes I can fully expect some devs to grab hold of the hardware out of the gate.  Some of the best DS and ps2 titles came out shortly after their systems launch. 


jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Kravyn81  @StarkJJ Nothing irrational about it. The fact is that this game contains more than the original release, and yet somehow scores lower than the original release.

rarson
rarson

@InsipidGameHate

I like how you start out with "Objectively speaking," and then finish the sentence by describing something that is completely subjective.

naf456
naf456

@InsipidGameHate Why are you so angry about this game? On all the games you mentioned there have been bugs and glitches and bad plots, I don't see how batman is any worst? What I think is more criminal is how this game is rated down purely for being a Wii U title. Can't we just look past the platform stereotypism at rate what we play? "oh it's the wii, it's bound to be terrible...'

InsipidGameHate
InsipidGameHate

 @Bgrngod  Corrupt save filies, in game freezes, audio glitches, and wonky quickfire gadgets don't exist on anyone else's copy? Yeah right. You are truly pathetic defending a game that should be condemned and labeled as what it is. A deplorable rushed cash grab.

 

I am right in this case. I'm comprehensive in forming my opinion. Objectively speaking, Arkham City has a horribly pretentious story. I only still have the game because of the kickass challenge mode and refinements to the core combat and stealth gameplay. The story is an incoherent clusterf*ck plagued with a plethora of plot holes, perversions of characters(Even Batman), clumsy unintentional reveals, and gameplay scenarios/villains shoehorned in just for the sake of it. That's why Arkham Asylum is still easily the greatest comic book based/licensed game of all time.

 

So what insipid repugnant bullsh*t will you respond with next? I'm eager to see how you further degrade your already baseless stance.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

 @InsipidGameHate Salt and peppering your words doesn't make you sound any less stupid.  The mountain of technical issues you claim to exist in the game do not exist.  That is factual.  Not opinion.

 

"An opinion isn't purely subjective, it needs some semblance of rationality."

 

Exactly, so why are you ignoring yourself on this point?

InsipidGameHate
InsipidGameHate

 @Bgrngod Is it even possible that you could convey yourself as more feeble minded then you already seem? An opinion isn't purely subjective, it needs some semblance of rationality.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

 @InsipidGameHate You just keep on trucking through life telling yourself that facts and your opinion  are the same thing.  You'll get along just fine.. no really.

 

All those glitches and bugs you mention are factually, bullshit.  It's one thing not to like the game as your opinion, it's another to trash on it for factually inaccurate claims.

koospetoors
koospetoors

@InsipidGameHate

Well you heard the man, Arkham City is the worst game ever created because the protagonist's cape is supposedly blue.

 

Such a tragedy!

 

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

 @InsipidGameHate  

Yup, just curse at people who don't agree with you.  That'll prove you right...

InsipidGameHate
InsipidGameHate

 @ansabalirai  @Savior4Life Of this console gen? Bioshock, Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, Uncharted series, GTA4, Little Big Planet games, Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire, Infamous 2, and Batman Arkham Asylum.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

 @jellyman68 

 

Including all the mediocre DLC does does not warrant a score bump by any stretch of the imagination.  Especially considering the GotY editions for 360/PS3 are both $40 right now any they include all of it.

 

The game is also already a year old.

 

The GS score is perfectly reasonable.

Rickystickyman
Rickystickyman

 @jellyman68  @Kravyn81  @StarkJJ It's controls were worse than on the other consoles and it made the gameplay less fun. If AC is more fun to play on another console then that console will get a higher score. Every reviewer (that I've checked) has agreed that the controls for the Wii U version are worse and take away from the experience.

 

DEAL WITH IT!

Nophoria88
Nophoria88

 @GoldenEye2010  @jellyman68  @amaneuvering (This is to whoever it applies to.)

 

What the hell? 8.5 is a great score. Do you HONESTLY expect EVERY game to come out that YOU are interested in to get a 9+ in score? 8.5 means, go out and buy it if you're interested because it's a GREAT game. 9+ means it went above and BEYOND(!) to deserve that score. 'One' of the very best action adventure of recent years, not THE best.

 

How much fun you will have with ANY game REGARDLESS of score depends on your own personal taste. There are plenty of 9+ games I haven't played because I'm not into their style and plenty under a 9 that I adore.

 

What is up with people depreciating higher scores, is it because it's not the perfect score to a game you hold so near and dear? Any game can be a 9 to you if YOU think it is, jeez.

Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition More Info

  • Released
    • Wii U
    Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition is the enhanced version of the award-winning blockbuster videogame created by Rocksteady Studios.
    8.2
    Average User RatingOut of 101 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition
    Developed by:
    Rocksteady Studios, WB Games Montreal
    Published by:
    Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
    Genres:
    Open-World, Adventure, Action, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Alcohol Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence