Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition Review

Genre: Third-person Action Adventure

Platform: Wii U

Developer: Rocksteady

Publisher: Warner Bros Games

Released: November 18th 2012

Batman Arkham City was released a little more than a year ago. The game is the sequel of the acclaimed Batman: Arkham Asylum, a game that showed how tie-in games should be done, with a good written plot, tons of content, fast paced combat and stealth sequences that never made the game feel repetitive. Batman Arkham City expands all the concepts behind the first game, introducing multiple playable characters, an open world structure and an even more intricate plot.
Our hero makes a comeback on the Wii U, with an updated version of the game dubbed Armored Edition, featuring all the DLC content released for the game and more controls options, thanks to Wii U Gamepad. Do the new features warrant a double-dip from players who already own the game or is this port only aimed for players who didn’t get the game before? Let’s find it out together


The Dark Knight

A year after the events in Arkham Asylum, where the Joker was stopped by Batman, Quincy Sharp, former warden of Arkham Prison, taking all the credit for this feat, manages to become the Mayor of Gotham City, creating a sort of “quarantine” zone for the criminals inside the city itself. At the head of the project is Doctor Hugo Strange who claims has found a way to cure all the mad criminals of the town. Obviously Bruce Wayne can’t stand to watch all this and start investigating the matter himself, leading to the events of the game. I won’t spoil further for players who never played the game: from beginning to end, the game stays interesting and engaging. If you’re wondering if a villain of Gotham City is in, the answer is probably yes: you’ll meet Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Bane, Ra’s al Ghul, Victor Sasz, the Riddler, Mister Freeze, Poison Ivy and others, together with Catwoman, Nightwing, Robin, Gordon and most of the friends of our hero. From this point of view I found Arkham Asylum a little tighter: there are too many villains who don’t get enough time in the spotlight. Most of the times you’ll meet them for a few cutscenes and they’ll be backĀ in the background: if players don’t know about a certain villain they’ll probably think they’re all one dimensional by playing the game and in most cases it’s not really like that; because of so many characters most of the plot points aren’t developed deeply, making the whole narrative feel superficial. It’s not bad at all but, as I already said, Arkham Asylum is slightly better in this regard.


The streets of Gotham are not like they used to be

Gameplay wise, Arkham City is better than its prequel in every possible way: the game sports more freedom in tackling main missions and sub quests. It’s almost like a Zelda game where Arkham City streets are the overworld and the buildings are dungeons. When inside the buildings, the game plays pretty much like Arkham Asylum, alternating exploration and investigation phases where Batman has to collect clues using his many gadgets to reach his objectives with stealth phases where Batman has to get rid of armed inmates without being seen and combat phases. While on the streets bands of goons will attack Batman at any chance they have so players must keep their attention up at all times. Subquests will be unlocked after the story reaches certain points and you’ll be able to complete them whenever you want: all of them involve more Gotham City villains who aren’t part of the main story. There’s a great variety in these missions, like going after psychopath Victor Sasz by answering to public phones, completing riddles created by the Riddler himself, go into an item hunt together with Bane and so on. There’s a lot to do in Arkham City and you surely won’t feel bored.


Options in the Free Flow Combat System have been vastly increased, with new technniques available, making combat incredibly fast paced, fun and strategic: button mashing won’t get you anywhere since you’ll have to attack enemies, counter-attack them if they’re about to strike and dodge unblockable attacks. It’s all about using the right move at the right them, it’s really rewarding and great to watch. The Wii U version adds a Battle Armored Tech mode where a special armored suit can be activated once an energy bar is full: once unleashed by tapping the touch screen, Batman’s power and performance will increase. Unfortunately this addition makes button mashing a viable strategy since enemies are literally overpowered when the armor is activated.

Look at my new BatPad

Other than the Armored Suit, the Wii U version features a number of ways to use the Gamepad and to be honest they all seem tacked on, just for the sake of using the GamePad in some ways. You can manage your inventory through the touch screen but it’s kinda frustrating since all the icons are so small; you can also control the remote controlled batrangs by moving the GamePad but it’s really uncomfortable and most players will just use the analog sticks. Other additions are almost useless: Detective Mode is now shown on the Gamepad screen but these sequences are so small that there’s no real advantage in using the Gamepad to move around and collect evidence. There’s a sonar too which works just like Predator View mode, rendering it useless. Some of the additions are also very frustrating like the hacking sequences which are simply bad done.


A Hero Must Look Good At All Times

Graphically, the game is not too different from the other versions: textures are slightly less detailed but the drawing distance has been increased and the City looks overall better detailed. Unfortunately the Wii U version has a less stable framerate and slightly longer load times, anything game breaking but if you played other versions before you’ll notice the difference immediately.
A really nice touch comes from how Rocksteady decided to handle in-game communications between Batman and his comrades: radio communications will be played from the GamePad speakers, making it look sound like a real radio communication. This is probably the best thing that came from implementing the GamePad.

Final Thoughts

Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition is a hard game to judge: the basic game is still as good as it was last year, and the inclusion of all DLC makes the game last even longer. However the Wii U version doesn’t bring anything outstanding to make players who already have enjoys the original game buy it again: the additions range from useless to downright frustrating, with the Armored Suit breaking an otherwise perfect balance during combat. If you have never played the game and don’t have any other way to play it, the Wii U version will be fine: everyone else won’t be missing anything noteworthy

[xrr rating=8.0/10]

8.0 out of 10 for the main game, 5.0 out of 10 for the Wii U exclusive content.

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