Batman: Arkham City Reflection

***Spoiler Free***

I’ve had Batman: AC collecting dust on my shelf since Christmas. I’ve had lots of opportunities to start playing the game, but never got around to it. To preface my reflections: I’ve played Arkham Asylum as well as seen Chris Nolan’s recent trilogy of movies, but I have not read any of the comics or really remember the older movies or TV show(s).

As I am currently between school and work, I’ve had a fair bit of time for video games, but in 12 days I managed to spend only ~4 hours playing Batman: AC. I had even moved on to playing Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, before resolving that I really should give Batman a fair shake. Call me a sucker for a good story, but I was completely lost and underwhelmed by the events of this game. Besides the fact that I was often confused by the sequence of events, I don’t think the game did a sufficiently good job of setting up the foundation story. Maybe the fact that I’m not really familiar with the large supporting cast of bad guys didn’t help.

Before I continue with the negativity, there are a lot of things this game has going for it:

  • The cut-scenes are really well-done, and I especially like the load screen that reminds you of what is currently going on.
  • Voice acting is superb.
  • Character models and animations are top-notch.
  • Gameplay, especially fighting groups of bad guys, is extremely tight and satisfying.
  • There is lots to do around Arkham City (side missions, collectibles, etc.).

I know Batman is ‘The Dark Knight’ and all, but does the entirety of his games have to be so dark? Perhaps a redundant question, but I would love to see what this game engine could look like in a well-lit area.

Also, I would love for the inevitable sequel to move out into Gotham City itself. I can’t help but feel that Arkham City feels empty without cars or people going about their business. I am picturing something like Liberty City (okay, it doesn’t have to be that big). Perhaps a reasonable compromise would be to have an area the size of Arkham City, but load it with people in an absolute panic. I would appreciate the motivation in knowing that I am helping and positively affecting the general population. Staying spoiler-free, I am disappointed with the motivations and the decisions that are forced onto the player in Batman: AC.

In conclusion, I can understand how Batman: Arkham City is one of the highest critically-rated games of this generation, but I do not share the same feelings. A truly outstanding game should provide an experience that is unrivaled in any other form of media. Did I feel like Batman as I swooped from gargoyle to gargoyle stalking my prey? Absolutely. Did I have a good understanding of why I was doing it or any real sense of urgency? Not so much. Did I care about the final outcome? Meh.

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