Klavan On The Culture

Video Game Review: Batman - Arkham City

So this week here at Klavan on the Culture, we’ve discussed perfidious media perfidy and insidious racist racism, it’s time to move on to really important questions — like, “How’s the new Batman video game?” I’m glad you asked. Pretty darn good, actually. In fact, as vid-games based on cool superheroes go, I’d say this is pretty much as good as it gets. The first one in the series, Batman, Arkham Asylum, had originality going for it, which made it just that little bit better than the sequel in my originality-loving opinion. But really only just a little bit better. In both games, the controls are wonderfully direct and after a scene or two, you really get the feeling of what it’s like to dress up in a skin-tight bat suit and hang upside down from a gargoyle. I can vouch for this because I actually do this from time to time. But that’s another story and not really any of your business.

Arkham City is a bigger game than the first. The city of the title is vast. I’m not usually impressed by this sort of thing because it often means wandering around forever until you find the fun stuff. But the directional system here is better than that and you can move through the night streets quickly to your destination. As you progress through the story, the environment becomes more and more dangerous, which is very cool.  And by the end of it, when you’re outrunning helicopters, it’s a blast. There are also approximately a jazillion side missions placed throughout. I’m usually not much of a fan of side missions either because they generally just entail beating people up — a lot of button pushing which hurts my typing muscles. But some of these are pretty different and interesting — a big improvement over similarly structured games, like the Spider Man series.

Also, lifting this above all other similar titles, is Batman himself, who’s just, let’s face it, the best super hero ever. He’s not as powerful as Superman so he has to be smarter and tougher. Plus, while he’s dark and brooding, he’s not so dark as to be borderline psychopathic the way some of these new characters are. He’s fun to play, and as with Asylum, Arkham City really does allow you to inhabit the character. There are also free add-on Catwoman levels which seem to exist primarily for the purpose of allowing 12-year-old boys to manipulate a shapely cartoon woman for purposes of sexual excitement. As you can imagine, I enjoyed this immensely.

Anyway, nothing could be as good as the reviews said this game was, but it’s a lot of fun and definitely worthwhile. If you enjoyed Arkham Asylum, you won’t be disappointed. This is more of the same, and almost as good.

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