The original Batman: Arkham Asylum was released to critical acclaim and was widely regarded as one of the best superhero games of all time. It captivated long-time fans of the Dark Knight and introduced new fans to a darker, grittier version of the caped crusader similar to the films released around that time.
Before development wrapped on that game, however, the ideas and concepts for the sequel were already being conceived, and the overwhelming success that Arkham Asylum brought sent production into full swing. Two years later, Rocksteady delivered another smash hit with the sequel Batman: Arkham City.
Thanks to an incredible marketing campaign that even saw the release of a full music album, Arkham City made a huge splash and easily sold more than the original ever could with a new map, new gadgets, and new moves to help carry out justice the way only Batman can.
So, nearly ten years after its original release, is it still as good as it was back then? The “Return to Arkham” collection gave both games a crisp remaster for the 8th generation and, with the current Xbox sale happening, there’s never been a better time to get in on the action and see if Batman: Arkham City is still good in 2021.
BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY
So, What’s It All About?
Batman: Arkham City follows on directly from the events of Arkham Asylum after Batman foils the Joker evil scheme and restores the island to a relatively normal state. Many of the villains and henchmen have been relocated to a sectioned-off corner of Gotham that has been turned into a high-security super-prison known as Arkham City.
Bruce Wayne is set to make a press conference to oppose this prison because he feels like it’s an even bigger threat to the people of Gotham. Before his speech can commence, TYGER guards from Arkham City arrest Bruce Wayne and carry him into the very same prison. Hugo Strange then reveals himself as the warden/creator of Arkham City and that he knows Bruce is Batman.
After taking him through processing, Hugo releases Bruce into the prison and leaves him at the mercy of the prisoners. After a tussle with the Penguin himself, Bruce manages to make contact with Alfred to recover his suit. Once the Dark Knight gears up, it’s up to Batman to stop Dr. Strange and put an end to Arkham City once and for all.
— Stevius Maximus (@SteviusM) July 28, 2021
Combat & Gadgets
The Freeflow combat system that dazzled the world in Arkham Asylum is back and better than ever thanks to a number of changes that opened up more variety by adding various new combos, moves, and strategies. There are new enemies and weapons as well that can completely change up combat at a moment’s notice.
This extends to Catwoman as well since you’ll be playing as her for a select few missions as her subplot plays out parallel to the original story. All of Batman’s gadgets from Arkham make their return and most are available from the start this time instead of needing to be unlocked and can now be activated during combat as well for a bit more of an edge.
The streets of Arkham City are a chaotic wasteland filled with thugs fighting in support of one of Gotham’s most infamous criminals. You’ll come across them fighting for turf or simply on patrol, chatting about their current situation and what they think of their current employer whether that be Two-Face or even The Joker.
Traversing through the city is made exceptionally easy with the new flight mechanics that Batman has at his disposal and they take a fairly short time to get used to. From a gentle glide to a dive bomb that lets you drop down on unsuspecting enemies or swoop down to gain momentum and extend your flight.
There is an abundance of Riddler puzzles to solve this time with most trophies being locked in puzzles that can be quite tricky to solve instead of just being hidden in obscure places. And when you’re not chasing down trophies, Batman also now has side missions that will pop up around the city that aren’t necessary to complete the main campaign.
Then, What’s Good About It?
Once again, it’s the combat stealing the show in this Arkham Game as well. I was a big fan of it during my Arkham Asylum playthrough and getting to experience it all again with all the new enhancements was great. With henchmen being able to attack 2 or 3 at a time and the newer enemies that carry body armor and shields, I felt far more engaged and on my toes during these encounters.
I’m glad to see the Titans returning as well since they provided a unique challenge in the first game and riding on their backs to take out multiple enemies never gets old. The one-armed brutes were a great addition as well and gave a good mid-level between the Titans and the regular enemies
The city itself is beautifully crafted as each supervillain’s territory feels unique and distinct without being an over-the-top declaration of who is in control. Every enemy encounter feels free yet controlled in how you’re able to approach these random scenarios while traversing through the city.
And as far as stories go, this has to be one of my favorite Batman stories to date. No character feels like their inclusion was forced and the mystery surrounding the Joker kept me guessing right up until the big reveal at the end. Even though Hugo Strange was poised as the main antagonist and the ruler of Arkham City, my eyes were firmly on the Joker to see how his plans would.
— Stevius Maximus (@SteviusM) August 6, 2021
And, What’s Bad About It?
Much like the first game, there’s not much to complain about when it comes to Arkham City. It felt like every gadget had multiple scenarios where they were the only device that could be used which is great since a lot of the gadgets in the first game like nothing more than optional extras that I never felt the need to use in-game.
Like the Remote controlled Batarang from the first game. It seemed very useful but I just didn’t come across a situation where I felt like it was the best tool for the job and it went unused for the entire game. Maybe it’s my lack of imagination but I’m glad there were more direct opportunities to use it.
Should I Play It?
Absolutely, especially with the intense amount of bad superhero games that are out there right now. This is the definitive experience when it comes to stepping in the shes of the Dark Knight and, with the new game plus unlocked for me, I’ll sure I’ll happily be doing it all again very soon. Batman: Arkham City is 100% still good in 2021.
Have you played Batman: Arkham City? What do you think of the city and the experience of being Batman? let me know in the comments section below.