Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So, I Played Arkham City Last Night

I got to spend about two-and-a-half to three hours in a section of Gotham City converted into a giant prison. Herewith I offer my first impressions...

The game looks gorgeous. I was a little worried that the expanded playing area from Arkham Asylum (about 5 times bigger) would reduce the detail. Happily, this is not the case. The streets of Gotham are just a grimy and polluted as you'd expect.

Controls are very similar to the previous game, which is good. Using the controls felt like riding a bike, but with a few new gadgets to get used to. Meaning, the core components of moving, fighting, gliding all work as you remember, and allow you to start trying to integrate the new stuff. I did feel the controls were a little "looser" than in Arkham Asylum. Not quite as tight and responsive as I remember (maybe I was just used to it). I have to admit, I've not mastered all the new gadgets at Batman's disposal, or the new menu/hotkey system to use them, but I'm sure that's just a matter of practice and time.

The old standby from the first game, the Bat-grapple, is back, as is the glider cape, but the expanded play area has opened this up to really cool stuff. I think I actually giggled the first time I glided Batman off a rooftop, then grappled to a building, using the line to catapult the caped crusader back into the night sky. Again, the greatest thing Rocksteady has accomplished with this franchise is really making the player feel like Batman. Now, we can add swinging through the canyons of Gotham City to the list of Batman elements captured.

One of the elements new with Arkham City is a second playable character, Catwoman. I downloaded the expansion pack to include her right away. No, she's not automatically on the game, but a download with included one-use code. Yeah, this will be a pain for used game purchasers, but, y'know what? I don't seen any reason why Rocksteady shouldn't include somethign special for people who don't wait for after-market prices.

Anyway, Catwoman is executed just as well as the Dark Knight himself, with her whip standing in for the Bat-grapple, and an ability to actually scale walls and move about almost like Spider-Man. The character comes with a side plot that merges into the main game unobtrusively once downloaded.

Apparently, more downloadable characters are in the offing, Robin has been announced, and a Nightwing avatar has been seen around the the net. My understanding is that Robin, at least, won't interface with the main single-player game, but is useable in challenge modes, which will be familiar to players of Arkham Asylum. Although, I've found no way, so far, to access any challenge modes on the new game...

Already, within 3 hours, the roster of villains has increased. I've already encountered Two-Face (my happy to have him in the game), Bane, The Joker, and when I went to bed, I was on the trail of Mr. Freeze. I will confess some disappointment that Arleen Sorkin hasn't provided the voice for Harley Quinn for this game.

The hunt for Mr. Freeze also brings up a personal issue, mainly because I'm not the biggest fan of open-world games, which Arkham City embraces elements of far more than Arkham Asylum did. I did have some confusion, hunting radio signals (to find The Joker), and temperature (for Mr. Freeze) across the city. Again, I'm sure this is something I'll get used to, but I did find myself thinking "ok, what am I really looking for?" a couple of times.

Bottom line, this game is pretty much exactly what I wanted from a sequel to Arkham Asylum, Batman in Gotham City. I'm happy right now, at the first step of this game (supposed to be 40 hours of playing time), and while my opinion may change when I'm finished. I think it's gonna be fun getting there.

No comments:

Post a Comment