|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Rocksteady Studios|
|Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive / Eidos Interactive|
|Release: Q3 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Lindsey Weedston
Batman: Arkham Asylum surprised many gamers last year by being very, very good, proving to us all that even a Batman game can achieve greatness. It received high scores from critics and a long list of awards, including a spot in the Guinness World Records as the Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game.
As expected, Arkham Asylum is back, and bigger than ever. In Batman: Arkham City, Gotham has become so full of criminals that the prison and asylum can't hold them all. The new mayor, former asylum warden Quincy Sharp, therefore decides to wall off part of the city and set the deviants loose inside to fight among themselves for control. Sounds like a bad idea? Of course it does. To top it off, Sharp puts obvious villain Hugo Strange in charge, giving him control of the military guards who keep the inmates from escaping Arkham City. In the latest trailer, Strange interrogates one of these guards about their doomed fight with Batman. After the caped crusader is shown giving them a thorough beat down, Strange ominously reveals that he knows everything about Batman, including his true name.
The first thing I noticed about the new Arkham City trailer, besides the improved graphics, was Batman's face. Maybe it's the fact that the graphics allow me to see every pore or that his eyes seem way too clear through those tiny eye holes or that it looks like his nose is way too far away from his mouth, but there's something alien about it. I'm not sure what's going on with his voice, either, but Arkham City's Batman will again be voiced by Kevin Conroy, so I trust that it will be fine in the actual game. As strange as Batman looks in the new trailer, there's no denying that it's a well-made cinematic. The atmosphere, lighting, and somewhat gruesome imagery sets up a game that, according to Conroy, will be "really, really dark."
The trailer released during the 2009 Video Game Awards gave us a glimpse of Arkham City itself, which is of course in total chaos, as the camera pans around to the sound of the Joker's laughter. The Joker is shown weak and wounded, being nursed back to health by Harley Quinn. It's not yet clear what role the Joker will play in Arkham City, but he may not get much face time considering how many other villains the game is promising. The list of confirmed characters includes Two-Face, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, The Riddler, Talia al Ghul, Victor Zsasz, and Calendar Man. The game begins when Two-Face decides to impress his fellow inmates by publicly executing Catwoman, thus prompting Batman to swoop in to the rescue.
If that doesn't get you excited, Rocksteady has announced improvements and fixes to Arkham Asylum's flaws. Art director David Hego said that the detective mode, which allowed players x-ray vision of sorts that highlighted important objects and armed enemies, would be toned down in the new game, so that players can't go through the whole game with it on, rendering Hego's hard work pointless. Arkham City's Batman will have smoke bombs and a broadcast tracer device, in addition to his gadgets from the first game. Combat will involve twice as many moves, a multi-enemy counter feature, and the ability to use all of Batman's gadgets during a fight.Completing the Riddler's puzzles may be a bit more challenging, as players will have to locate them through methods that include the interrogation (i.e. face-punching) of the Riddler's cronies. Rumors are circulating that there will be some form of multiplayer, but no details about this have yet been released. Unfortunately, players will not be able to ride in the Batmobile, or any other bat-related vehicles, even though Arkham City is four or five times larger than the asylum.
Arkham City's bigness will likely be one of its most interesting features. Not only will there be more to explore, but having such a large area will allow for mass independent NPC action such as territory battles between rival gangs. Batman will have to deal with navigating these different territories and the unique qualities of the criminals within. However, game director Sefton Hill promises that quality will not be sacrificed for quantity. "Rocksteady remains absolutely committed to making the best game possible and so our design decisions are driven by this simple goal. Batman: Arkham City is a significantly larger game world, but it is still rammed with an incredible level of detail." Arkham City will also contain sub-plots for each of the many classic Batman villains featured, deepening the game's overall narrative.
With such a huge game to be crammed with so much substance, it seems likely that Batman: Arkham City has the potential to be as good as or even better than its predecessor. A promise of a game that's bigger, better, and darker than the best reviewed superhero game of all time is sure to make the Batfans impatient for the Q3 2011 release.
CCC Freelance Writer