Batman: Arkham Asylum was something of a rarity in the world of video games: a game based on a revered superhero character that’s… good. Really good. Actually, not just ‘really good’; it was a masterpiece. Already, Arkham Asylum has become a classic, with quite rightfully so, rave reviews, huge sales and several wins of the “Game of the Year” accolade. It’s a bit of an understatement then that Arkham City has huge expectations to live up to, and Rocksteady are trying to pull off a task which most developers seem to struggle with: delivering a sequel worthy of the standard set by its predecessors. However, from what I’ve seen, Arkham City actually looks like that elusive, rare great sequel. Could Rocksteady be accomplishing another rare feat?
Perhaps, the smartest move Rocksteady has made so far is by changing the locale of the game. You will be revisiting the asylum, but you will be mostly in Arkham City. Like the first game that inspired it, Arkham City will include a seamless blend of stealth, combat and exploration. The stealth mechanics were probably my favourite part of Arkham Asylum, and Arkham City seems like it’s going to punch up the difficulty a few notches in this one. The henchmen this time will be equipped with much more powerful weapons such as a submachine gun, and a sharper detection system. You better have practised your stealth on Arkham Asylum, because Arkham City will definitely ask you to put your skills to the test. Another intelligent move by Rocksteady was to have all the gadgets that were in the first game, such as the Batclaw, are all unlocked right from the start. The weapons in Arkham Asylum were great, and actually handy for your progression in the game. That certainly doesn’t mean that’s all though; Rocksteady has promised more weapons including smoke bombs, which enables Batman to throw them at his enemies, and sneak away in the confusion, and a broadcast tracer which helps detect signals and trace them back to their original places.
Like Arkham Asylum, Arkham City will have a story just as dark, intense, gripping and unflinching as the best Batman storylines. Quincy Sharp, the former warden of Arkham Asylum, has taken credit for putting to the end of the Joker, and now, has a desire to recreate “Arkham City” as a better place. The prisoners are brought into the city, and are given free rein, as long as they don’t try to escape. To oversee the progress of the city, a physiatrist called Hugo Strange is called to help with the supervision of the city. Of course, our costumed, masked bat-like vigilante senses the situation might get out of hand, and asks to help with the supervision. The story will, like its brilliant predecessor, will include a large library of supervillians, with Two-Face and Catwoman being the main focus of villains. If anybody is well-tuned of the Batman comic book lore, then you’ll know Batman and Catwoman share history together… this going to make for some very interesting conflict, let me tell you.
There will be no major change to the otherwise near-perfect gameplay mechanics from Arkham Asylum. The game will still involve the player as Batman making his way round Arkham City. The player will be completing mission objectives in order to advance the story and unravel the mysteries, and the player can use a wide variety of tactics such as moving silently and taking enemies down in a subtle, undetecting manner. Rocksteady has said there will be some multiplayer features included, but right now, where the multiplayer is co-op based or competitive is unknown. A multiplayer sounds great, but hopefully, it won’t be distracting from the core adventure in Arkham City.
Does Arkham City have astronomical standards to live up to? Yes. Will it live up to them? Well, which such minimal information given, it’s hard to say, but Rocksteady seem just as focused and as compassionate about Batman as they did the first time. Arkham City at first glance, might look exactly like Arkham Asylum, but it’s clear Rocksteady are going to shake up the gameplay when you least expect it. As someone who adored Arkham Asylum, I for one am excited what they are going to do.