Batman: Arkham City - A Genuinely Frightening Video Game

Batman returns to the gaming world in Arkham City, a gritty and pulsating thriller that surpasses expectations by catering for the dark demand.
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Batman returns to the gaming world in Arkham City, a gritty and pulsating thriller that surpasses expectations by catering for the dark demand.

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Batman returns to the gaming world in Arkham City, a gritty and pulsating thriller that surpasses expectations by catering for the dark demand.

Fictional legends have a chequered history when it comes to video game spin-offs. James Bond peaked with the timeless Goldeneye but offered lacklustre yet lucrative assignments until 2008s Quantum of Solace. Spiderman has been equally prolific yet uninspiring whilst Batman’s beat ‘em up efforts have tended to reflect how commercially successful the film or TV series which spawned them was. The formula was ripped up after the mediocre Batman Begins when Batman: Arkham Asylum provided acerebral test for gamers to critical acclaim in 2009.

Complete with immersive graphics, perfect voice talent and innovative tasks, it was also genuinely frightening and the darkness is upped in the sequel-by-popular-demand Batman: Arkham City. Whereas the Joker was the main antagonist in Asylum, City poses a more cerebral challenge courtesy of Hugo Strange’s Protocol 10, albeit with new foes from the Dark Knight’s Rogues Gallery, including the returning Clown Prince of Crime.

What makes the scenario's gameplay so effective is that the lunatics are running loose in the asylum, or in this case, a criminalised city. As a Batman aficionado, irrespective of age, these games have the ability to make you fearless again as you come across a snarling Penguin or get to flirt with Catwoman in gorgeous high-definition on the PS3. The narrative, courtesy of seasoned Bat-nerd Paul Dini, is so expertly scripted that the gaming factor occasionally falls secondary to what is an impressive motion capture feature.

Arkham City is a more dangerous obstacle for exposing you to hundreds of special enemies who are peppered in to test your mettle.

That hasn’t meddled with the concentration of UK-based developers Rock Steady though, whose production design of an anarchic, dishevelled and impoverished suburb will tick the boxes of fans of the Christopher Nolan films. Crucially though, because of the shift the Caped Crusader has to put in, he is much more nimble and permitted to roam, slump and glide from all four corners like Spiderman whilst retaining his identity. Smoke pellets are a new weapon in the arsenal, which is a nostalgic nod to Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).

One of the few criticisms of Asylum was that it was so labyrinthine that it made Zelda appear like a Sat-Nav stroll. City benefits from evading the hermit-like missions of Asylum and is a more dangerous obstacle for exposing you to hundreds of special enemies who are peppered in to test your mettle. The tactics of hostage scenarios are more challenging to navigate too, re-affirming how the journey to face Batman’s foes trumps the ensuing battles.

As is the obligation with sequels, this is also a darker prospect. Two-Face is gruesomely schizophrenic and akin to Killer Croc stalking you in Gotham City’s Asylum sewers, this time the Penguin’s great white shark is ready to pounce if the ice breaks. Although that sounds like a ridiculous scenario, it is conveyed so deftly that like a horror film, you’re scrambling for the remote to hit mute to steady your nerves.

In an age where video games’ knack for realism is deemed a prerequisite, Arkham City is a cinematically seminal treat which has polished and ironed out the kinks of its illustrious predecessor. The empowerment and boy’s own factor doesn’t disappoint from the breakneck opening to plunging from 100 feet to dislocate a thug’s jaw. It feels like you’re fulfilling the solution to the London riots, and like Batman’s nocturnal vigilance it’s worth a night shift.

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