Well the first thing to say about this game is that it is very similar to the other two Arkham games in what is now a trilogy despite it being written by a different games company and as such I enjoyed it.
As I have said before, I am not an OCD gamer and so flitting about the map trying to collect every single collectible is not my bag. My fascination with collecting Gamerscore has dwindled. Thankfully there’s lots of other stuff to be doing and the main storyline is simply great. However because it’s a sequel to the first game you kind of know that Batman isn’t going to kill off any of the enemies you come across in the first game. It’s a bit like watching ‘Titanic’ – it’s not so much about what happens but how it happens – so it’s not great spoiler to say that Batman encounters The Joker for the first time, tangles with Bane and the Penguin and has to fart around with Enigma (a.k.a. the Riddler) again.
The combat system takes a while to get used to as it is unlike any other game apart from perhaps Assassins Creed. Once you get the Electrocutioner’s gloves and a few other upgrades life becomes a lot easier and it wasn’t long before I saw the 50x multiplayer achievement pop up during a fight. Most boss fights are exercises in button crunching, reacting to on-screen prompts in time and just having enough patience to see the fights through to the inevitable cut-scene end – this is especially so with the Firefly fight which could be completed by a trained chimp and the disappointing Bane final fight which I did while talking to Siggy about what she wanted to have for tea. In actual fact the most difficult fight Batman has in the whole game is versus Deathstroke which is the first boss fight in the game – talk about an unbalanced progression!
The AI of the criminal gang members is still rather deaf, stupid and short-sighted but not as bad as many other sneak-‘em-ups and there’s a good mixture of enemies in terms of how you have to tackle them in a fight (before you get the all-defeating electric gloves that is, or while you’re waiting for them to power up).
I think the key to why enjoyed this game is the mixture of side missions, story missions and more of a feeling of open play despite the storyline being rigidly linear. The voice acting talent and design/artwork on the characters is brilliant and there are lots of background information items to help you suspend reality while you’re swooping about pretending to be a big ol’ scary bat.
I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t unlock all the assassin characters and come up against them, but by then my attention had wandered towards getting hold of the grand-daddy of all sneak-‘em-ups in the form of Thief. Thief is quite possibly my all-time favourite game franchise revered by me above all games including COD or Halo and without it I doubt Splinter Cell or Assassin’s Creed ever would have been created. It will of course be the subject of another post in a few weeks. I’m not going to rush it.