Swear to me (or, Arkham City first impressions)

Happy Bat-Day everyone!

Arkham City came out today, as if you hadn’t noticed. The entire Internet seems to have exploded with conversation about it, though we did get a press release from Warner Bros reminding us that it was now available. I know this is SOP, but it always makes me laugh when a company reminds us that a huge game dominating the conversation comes out. We got it, WB! Thanks!

I’m probably an hour or two deep so far, and I’m really impressed. Combat in Arkham Asylum was never my strong suit, but even I can see that they’ve made some smart and subtle improvements here. It all just seems to flow much easier than before, and for a battle system as creamy-smooth as Arkham Asylum was to begin with, that’s saying something.

I was more of a Predator Challenge kind of person, and those have gotten their own improvements too. For one thing, the thugs aren’t brick-dumb anymore. They seem to follow your movements a lot better, so just swinging away won’t do it anymore. You need to break the line of sight before you grapple away, which is what makes Smoke Bombs useful.

It’s also legitimately funny. They play a lot with references to criminals being rightly terrified of the Bat. One early scene that sets up teaching you Predator stuff has a great line that I won’t spoil, but it made me laugh.

Catwoman is a fun diversion, but so far her chapters are pretty short. I suppose I should expect that for mini-chapters, but she plays really differently from Batman, so I’d like more of that. I guess that’s what the Challenge rooms are for. I’m hoping Nightwing and Robin are differentiated as well.

It’s a little overwhelming how much stuff there is to do. I was actually a bit wary at first that they might have overloaded the villains, but on reflection, I think that’s for its favor. It expresses the same idea that the plot does. Even in the midst of a mass breakout, Arkham Asylum was contained and compartmentalized. Arkham City is supposed to be a giant, chaotic melting pot of warring factions, and throwing in so many villains helps illustrate that feel.

If it’s not clear yet, this is a really, really great game. Portal 2 is in the danger zone for losing my GOTY spot.

  • Speaking of Arkham City, Batman Beyond suit looks cool and all, but I think I’ll wait for them to be bundled together as DLC. Easier and cheaper than chasing down all the baubles.
  • I understand the lack of a leftie mode in Skyward Sword, and it doesn’t impact me personally, but I have to wonder how hard it would be to implement. Other than mirroring the character model and animations, what would have to be done?
  • I have to say, as rumors go, Ezio in Soul Calibur passes the smell test. His visual and fighting style just fits so well into that world, it’s hard to imagine a better video game cameo.

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