Following the massive success of 2009’s Batman Arkham Asylum, it was inevitable that a sequel would be made.
Having received widespread, critical acclaim for its innovative gameplay, Rocksteady Studios were eager to pick up where they left off. So as soon as work on the first game was completed, developers wasted no time drawing up plans for a second instalment. Batman: Arkham City was announced as the title at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards.
Arkham City is set one year after the events of Arkham Asylum. The story goes that former prison warden Quincy Sharp has been elected as mayor of the city. After the previous game, he took all the credit for the defeat of The Joker and revelled in the aftermath of his success. To cope with the ever increasing number of criminals, he acquires a large section of rundown Gotham and turns it into an open prison. Gated and fenced off from the rest of Gotham, the prisoners are allowed free roam of the ‘city’ as long as they do not try to escape. A number of notorious villains from the Batman back catalogue will appear in the game, including The Joker, The Riddler, Mr Freeze, Hugo Strange, Harley Quinn and most importantly, Two-face. When the story begins we see Two-face drawing up plans to kill Batman’s former flame Catwoman. He believes in doing this, it will make him notorious with the inmates of Arkham city. So this is where the game will begin for the player. Batman is forced to enter the city to prevent Two-face and his accomplices from achieving their goal.
As you would imagine from the title, the game world is a lot larger this time around. In fact Arkham City is said to be five times bigger than the Asylum. This being said, there will be much more freedom of movement in this game. However, Rocksteady have purposely kept a linear quality to the game, in order to keep the player on track and focused on what they are doing.
Like the original, Arkham City will incorporate a variety of stealth tactics as well as featuring all of Batman’s favourite gadgets. Batman’s much loved Batarang will be the weapon of choice, while others including the grappling gun, explosive compound sprayer and the frequency scanner will appear. A standout out element of Arkham Asylum was the player’s ability to sneak around, taking down enemies without being seen or heard. And fans will be pleased to know that Arkham City is no different. A brand new combat system has been implemented to make defeating multiple foes at once even easier. Another great feature of the first game was the detective mode, where players could look for clues around the map in order to advance through the story. This again returns in the sequel.
One thing that players will notice has been carried on from the previous game is how dark the game is. Arkham Asylum was played in virtual pitch black lighting, with only a hint of light to brighten a room in certain sections. This kept the player on the edge of their seat constantly, throughout the game and Arkham City is shaping up to have a similar brooding and spine-chilling atmosphere.
Many of the voice actors from Arkham Asylum will reprise their roles, including:- Kevin Conroy (Batman), Mark Hammill (Joker) and Wally Wingert (Riddler). So players can be assured of a familiar soundtrack to the game.
At present Rocksteady have no intention of adding a multiplayer section to the game. This could be due to a variety of reasons, however it’s been cited that the developers want to put everything into creating the best single player game they can, without having to worry about adding another element to their work. Like the previous game, which also had no multiplayer, Arkham City will hopefully be an extremely intense and entertaining affair.
Gamers now have a long wait till release date on October 21st 2011, for this greatly anticipated game. For now we must content ourselves with tantalizing screenshots and teaser trailers. Can Rocksteady surpass the achievements of Batman: Arkham Asylum, ‘Game of the Year Edition? Will we once again be hooked by this classy, action adventure? Only time will tell, but at this moment in time, Batman: Arkham City is shaping up to be one of the stand-out titles of the year.