Batman: Arkham City
I guess I’ve already covered, that I’d love Batman: Arkham Whatever more than my life if I didn’t need it to PLAY Batman: Arkham Whatever, so I can probably (indeed I can) jump right into babbling about whacky details I can remember!
Lucky for me, they didn’t descend into the madness of considering any significant changes to an already almost perfect gameplay & handling. Sometimes developers think they need to change an already great concept for the sequel and that’s when everything goes down the drain. BAC kept most aspects that were good and enhanced many of them/built upon those. I missed only one thing in BAA and that was a bigger world – so with BAC I got exactly what I hoped for (the free gliding is quite addictive).
Of course a bigger game world can mean that the (main-) story isn’t as tightly paced as it could be in a smaller environment, where nothing else is going on anyway, but that was no downside for me. In great games I never rush to the finish line as fast as possible. Besides, even in Arkham City, players could just run from one main-mission to the next. Hotspots are even marked with the bat signal shining above them in the sky. :) Another design decision paying tribute to the bigger size of AC is a relatively huge crowd of different characters. Couple folks seem to perceive this as some sort of an overload. But given the choice of having tons of the villains (they addressed this nicely btw, because Batman doesn’t fight the same guys again [except for Joker, because he’s… Joker]; Poison Ivy might be in the game, but only Catwoman has to deal with her this time) in one place at the same time (and having to accept that this is maybe a little bit unrealistic), or lacking many interesting ones, I will still have to choose the former. The mere thought of a big, _empty_ game-world is demotivating to me. By the way, they struck a next to perfect balance. I deem the size of a game-world near perfect, if it’s neither so small, that there can be no exploration at all and there’s basically only one path to everything, nor so big, that traversing it is often uneventful and feels dead and barren (and everything looks alike). I’d vote details over unnecessary size any day. BAC is really the prime example I’d use to describe this near perfect balance.
What I didn’t like was only very little and hardly of the nature that would have a negative impact on my enjoyment. Another of the greatest parts of BAC was Catwoman. She wasn’t just some gimmick or minor selling point, her handling, animations – everything was as good as playing Batman himself (Batman of course has more moves and gadgets and…, but that’s beside the point). Given how flawless she was implemented, it was quite sad, that her mini-campaign was so short. I get it, it’s a Batman game after all, but still… I’d buy a Catwoman spin-off immediately.
The real downsides happened outside the game. The PC version was delayed a month (naturally many people assumed this was to give the title some additional polish) and when it came out, even the developer recommended not playing the game using the DirectX 11 mode (the launcher had it disabled from the start, even on machines that should have been able to run it – just so fewer people would play using DX11 – they totally knew from the start). The funny part is, that this game was used to advertise Nvidia graphics cards (BAC codes were given away with Nvidia card purchases) and then this selling point, of all things, was bugged.
I wasn’t really bummed out about it, because DX9 looked like a dream come true already (all screenshots are DX9!) and the differences wouldn’t have been that big – the real problem was, that there was only little communication about the issues and it was easy to think, that Rocksteady didn’t care at all about the PC version. After a patch came out in December, it took another month (!) just for them to officially offer a standalone download for the first patch… It’s really only such a minor, little thing, but they didn’t bother. Although it has been suggested, that there will be another patch, there is basically no information on what this second one might contain, or what the status is. The game itself is so fantastic and brilliant in all the glory of its content, but I’ve seen small indie developers with 5-10 dudes do a better job at supporting a game after it shipped, than what happened here. It sold pretty damn well AFAIK (4,6 million units shipped in the first week alone! one of the fastest selling games ever…), so it doesn’t make sense to treat it like that. It seems as if supporting a title after it has shipped really isn’t their strong suit. They manage to craft such an awesome masterpiece and then it’s like they all just go home and forget about it. The first installment received only one patch too (although I have to admit that I don’t remember any problems with BAA).
I’m planning on playing the “new game plus”-mode next, but I will certainly wait for the patch to appear (since they are taking their time I’m getting a vibe this might also be the last one), because otherwise I will regret having played it again without enjoying possible improvements. Seeing the DX11 effects for the first time might be another nice motivation.
The final Riddler segment is triggered after “only” 400 collected secrets, because people without Catwoman DLC (comes with 40 extra secrets) must be able to complete it too (only DLC on consoles, PC has it integrated generally). So after gathering all 440 riddles/secrets, nothing happens anymore. :(
Why the hell did he carry out *beep* at the end of the game, when he could have carried out *beep*? Weird choice Bats, weird choice!
I was delighted that the game started with Bruce Wayne as a playable character. A truly wonderful idea. Making your way towards your gear was quite engaging.
I never learned how to do the blade takedown (or however it was called) properly (just jumped above them and punched them from behind or used a combo takedown – quite lazy, I know), while I mastered all other moves (it was a great decision to include most moves in the riddler challenges)… Maybe next playthrough?