|System: Wii U|
|Dev: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Pub: Rocksteady Studios, WB Games Montreal|
|Release: November 18, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Alcohol Reference, Blood, Mild Language Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence|
by Sean Engemann
It's been over a year now since the original Batman: Arkham City released, so anybody who wanted the game should probably already have it shelved after spending dozens of hours with its fulfilling gameplay. With the Wii U freshly launched, and Nintendo trying to lure core players with more mature games, Rocksteady's latest Dark Knight adventure was a solid choice to bring over to the new console. As an extra incentive, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition has all the downloadable content previously released, as well as plenty of gameplay tweaks using the GamePad. The controller permutations are hit and miss, but altogether the Wii U provides the must-have version if you've never played it, and a bargain if you passed up the DLC and are craving the extra content.
Most gamers know the story already: With the fall of Arkham Asylum, a new location was required to keep Gotham's criminals separated from society. For reasons unknown, Dr. Strange successfully lobbied for the creation of Arkham City. Criminal bigwigs such as Joker, Penguin, and Two-Face have rallied the inmates and formed gangs within the compound, each carving out a section of Arkham City as their home turf. It is now up to Batman to infiltrate the cityscape prison, defeat (or possibly even cooperate with) his nemeses, and find a way to shut down Arkham City for good.
With Batman’s brains, brawn, and gadgetry all on the table, handling each situation is an experimental delight for the player. Whether you’re dancing between crowds of thugs and unleashing a flurry of attacks or bringing them down silently from the shadows, the controls in Arkham City are near flawless. Well-timed strikes, as well as counterattacks and quick-released gadgets, increase the combo multiplier and power of each attack and eventually grant special takedown moves. Encounters end in flourishes of cinematic display, and seeing the ground strewn with unconscious enemies is immensely satisfying. However, fail to counter an incoming attack and Batman will be thrown off his rhythm, with a health reduction to boot.
Armored Edition tries to alleviate some of the effort with a Batsuit upgrade. Along with metallic plating, the Wii U-exclusive suite sports what’s called the Battle Armored Tech Mode (B.A.T. Mode for short). With each successful attack, a meter of kinetic energy builds up. When full, this energy can be released for a short burst of charged attacks that do double damage. B.A.T. Mode also triggers a pseudo Detective Mode that highlights nearby enemies for easy execution of strikes. Ultimately, this feature makes combat easier but less satisfying.
One use of the GamePad that keeps the skill in your control is the ability to quickly switch between gadgets using the touchscreen. With well-placed icons for tools like the Batarang, Batclaw, and explosive gel, a quick tap is all that is needed to compliment your punches with tech toys. Other versions of Arkham City had the gadgets mapped to a control pad, which worked well enough, but the GamePad gives it a more visceral quality, allowing it all to flow much more smoothly with your mastery of button presses.
Outside of combat, the GamePad essentially becomes your Batcomputer. Everything can be accessed without having to pause in a menu screen. The local map will be on display the most, with objective indicators and nearby Riddler challenges indicated. You can switch to a radar screen that shows enemy locations, but it's relatively useless, and the constant pinging can get annoying.
Scanning for clues also makes use of the GamePad screen, which can accomplished with the control stick or by physically moving the GamePad around. Even small touches—like scanning your fingerprint to unlock the Batcomputer—may seem superficial, but they make you feel that much more like the Caped Crusader.
Another cool Wii U feature is that the game can be played entirely on the GamePad. The streamed visuals from the console are as pristine as the view on any high-definition television, and if your bedroom is within range, there's nothing like stalking the alleys and swinging between buildings while tucked comfortably in bed.
But with all this cool functionality, it's the sound exerted from the GamePad speakers that receives the top acclaim in my opinion. The Wii U GamePad has some of the cleanest, crispest audio I've heard from any console accessory or portable gaming system, but authenticity in the form of scratchy transmissions and analog signals is something only possible with the fusion of Wii U's dual platform.